Online Poll Contains Falsehoods About Endorsements of Oakland Candidate Peggy Moore

“Push” poll falsely states that Barbara Lee and Tony Thurmond support Libby Schaaf’s former aide for city council.



Peggy Moore.

A new online poll being sent to Oakland residents contains falsehoods about two prominent East Bay politicians endorsing city council candidate Peggy Moore, who is running for the At-Large seat. The survey claims that U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and state Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, both have endorsed Moore for Oakland City Council, but representatives of both Lee and Thurmond say the claim is false and that neither has endorsed anyone yet in the race. Moore, a former top staffer to Mayor Libby Schaaf, is running to unseat longtime Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

“They’re testing lies,” said Kaplan in an interview, referring to the online poll and the false endorsements.

In an interview, Moore admitted that her campaign paid for the poll, but said that the wording of the supposed endorsements was a mistake. “It was a misrepresentation on our end,” she said.

The poll states, “Peggy Moore is supported by East Bay Stonewall Democrats, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.”

Moore contended that the poll was supposed to present a hypothetical, asking voters if they were more likely to vote for Moore if she were to receive the endorsements of Lee and Thurmond.

The survey in question is also known in political circles as a “push poll,” because it contains information favorable to Moore and unfavorable to Kaplan. And it may have crossed the line into political advocacy, because the survey appears to be more of an advertisement for Moore and against Kaplan than an actual poll.

The poll is being emailed to Oakland voters, and starts out by stating, “you are going to read from statements from supporters of Peggy Moore for Oakland City Council.”

In addition to the false endorsement claims, the survey states, “It is time to bring a fresh voice and new leadership to the Oakland City Council. Peggy Moore has the right combination of leadership experience, community involvement, and collaborative spirit to bring together Oakland’s diverse interests and communities and make sure everyone benefits from Oakland’s successes.”

The survey then states, “While current councilmember Rebecca Kaplan likes to talk about change, she has few real accomplishments from her 15 years as a politician.”

Falsely claiming an endorsement by a prominent politician or group is considered to be a significant mistake in political circles—and one that candidates wish to avoid. Moore acknowledged as much. Representatives of EMC Research, an Oakland-based polling firm that is conducting the online poll, did not return two phone calls seeking comment.

State campaign ethics laws concerning push polls are also a bit murky. If the online poll in question is determined to be an advertisement, then state law “recommends” that candidates disclose that they paid for the online ad, but does not require disclosure, according to the state Fair Political Practices Commission. 

Published on Aug. 29, 2016 at 5:47 p.m.

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