Clinton Sugar Daddy Buys CNN's Presidential Polling Firm
by horizonr, Tue May 29, 2007 at 01:56:15 PM EDT
When one reads a critical piece of investigative reporting, one has always to consider
the source. Never is this more true than in the case of Hillary Clinton. One can hardly
imagine a Democratic politician against whom right-wing opposition research is more
vigorous right now.
But what if the influence peddling suggested by the research turns out to be "right,"
so to speak? What if the simplest explanation is correct? What if the dots really do
Two Sundays ago, the New York times ran an investigative article on infoUSA, an
Omaha, Nebraska-based company that, among other things, sells and licenses lists
of consumer data to telemarketers. Several years ago, an investigation found that
infoUSA had sold this data to "telemarketing criminals who used it to steal money
from elderly Americans."
Last Thursday, the New York Post followed up with a piece -- co-authored by legendary
Clinton adviser Dick Morris -- highlighting the lucrative relationship between the Clintons
and infoUSA's founder, chairman and CEO, Vinod Gupta.
relationship to Gupta, revealing that Gupta is now the target of a shareholder lawsuit
that accuses him of financial mismanagement of the company.
Among the things Gupta used the company's money for, according to the Times
and the New York Post:
$147,000 for a private jet flight for Hillary and Bill Clinton,
Gupta, and others (vacation to Acapulco) in January 2002
$2.1 million in consulting fees to Bill Clinton from April 2002
to April 2005 ("confidential advice and counsel to the chairman
and CEO of the company for the purpose of strategic growth and
business development," plus 1-2 company events per year)
$1.2 million for new 3-year consulting contract with Bill Clinton,
starting October 2005 (plus open-ended option to buy 100,000 shares
of infoUSA stock)
$900,000 (total) in private jet flights for Bill Clinton
(presidential foundation) and Hillary Clinton (campaigns)
2006 Clinton Global Initiative sponsor
Board membership for Terry McAuliffe at subsidiary firm,
According to Times and New York Post articles, Gupta also personally gave:
$2 million to Hillary Clinton's millenium celebration
$1 million to Bill Clinton's presidential library
$1 million to Bill Clinton's presidential foundation
$20,000 (total) to Hillary Clinton's presidential and
2006 senate campaigns, including $5000 to her PAC
in December 2006, as she was preparing to launch
her presidential bid
The Washington Post ran its own article on Saturday, which reported that Gupta also gave:
More than $220,000 to the Democratic Party during
Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate race
And The New York Sun reported that Gupta gave
$100,000 to Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate bid
and that Gupta
Raised an additional $100,000 for Clinton's
2000 bid at a fund-raiser he held at his home.
Yes, Gupta was a member of the Lincoln Bedroom Club. And no, Hillary Clinton has not yet
detailed on any presidential or Senate financial disclosure form exactly what Bill Clinton is
doing for his $3.3 million in consulting fees plus stock options.
The question is whether Hillary Clinton stands to gain more from Vin Gupta's deep pockets
than a padded bank account and deeply discounted plane tickets.
WHICH IS WHERE CNN COMES INTO THE MIX...
Newsbusters is a conservative Web site with the tagline, "Exposing and Combating (sic)
Liberal Media Bias." On Saturday, Newsbusters featured Tom Blumer's review of the Times
and New York Post coverage of the Gupta story.
Toward the end of the review, which he crossposted at his own site, Blumer digs a little
deeper to find that, in December 2006 -- the same month that Gupta wrote Hillary Clinton's
PAC a check for $5000 -- Gupta's company bought Opinion Research Corporation, a 70-year-
old polling firm which, as it happens, had been doing polling for CNN since April 2006.
A few weeks later, in January 2007, CNN announced that "Opinion Research Corporation
will become CNN's new polling partner as the network moves toward the 2008 elections.
Beginning in 2007, polls released by the network will be identified as CNN/Opinion Research
CNN political director Sam Feist said in the press release: "As the network gears up to offer
the most in-depth and expansive coverage of the 2008 election, Opinion Research Corporation
will be a key part of giving viewers the accurate and relevant information they demand."
Neither in December 2006, when infoUSA completed its purchase of Opinion Research, nor in
August 2006, when Gupta's company announced its plans, did it mention "CNN" or "polling,"
even though Opinion Research had been polling for CNN since the previous April. Gupta was
quoted in the earlier press release as saying that the acquisition would be "a significant
step in infoUSA's plan to become a diversified marketing services provider to the
corporate and public sectors."
What's interesting to note is that, two weeks after the sale was completed, infoUSA
announced that it had reorganized Opinion Research into two groups -- corporate marketing
research and government research -- and that the head of each group would report directly
to Vin Gupta.
More curious, though, is that, although infoUSA mentions Opinion Research and the CNN
polling connection in its 2006 Annual Report, there appears to be no reference to Opinion
Research anywhere on the infoUSA Web site, apart from four buried press releases.
One would think Opinion Research might feature more prominently on the site, when --
according the Annual Report -- Opinion Research cost infoUSA $132 million -- more than
30% of infoUSA's net sales of $435 million for 2006.
Blumer finds it "curious indeed that the Times could spend over 1,600 words covering the
Clintons and infoUSA without ever getting around to the possibility that Clinton-friendly CNN
and its new partner appear to have the opportunity, and motivation, for manipulating its polling
topics and results."
- Why did Vin Gupta buy Opinion Research at this particular time?
- Did CNN help to broker and/or demand to approve the sale?
- Did Bill Clinton help to broker and/or advise Gupta on the sale?
- Should we now expect CNN's polls to skew in Hillary Clinton's favor?
- How can we trust presidential polls that are bankrolled by Gupta,
when he is also, at this very moment, bankrolling both Clintons
to the tune of millions?
- Is any other polling organization essentially owned by one person
who has been -- and currently is -- so excessively "beneficent"
toward a single candidate?
What does Hillary Clinton's silence in all this say about her respect for democracy
and her worthiness for the White House?
As a update to his original post, Blumer links to CNN: Biased Reporting and Polling?, a short, DIY
documentary in which another conservative critic of Hillary Clinton places Vin Gupta's Clinton love
in the context of what he perceives as CNN's pro-Clinton bias.
theory, or is Tom Blumer just following the money trail where it leads?
Indeed, the real question, given CNN's enormous influence in shaping public opinion about presidential
elections, is: If there is any chance that Blumer's suspicions could turn out to be true, can progressives
and the country really afford to ignore them?
This is worth investigating.