Campaign Finance Reform Experts Criticize New Poll

The Washington Free Beacon

Lachlan Markay “

July 25, 2013

Campaign finance experts criticized a new survey from a group that advocates corporate disclosure of political spending, saying it uses unscientific polling techniques to falsely tout corporate support for disclosure.

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) released the survey on Wednesday that claimed 90 percent of corporate executives surveyed want the federal government to require companies to disclose all of their political spending.

Critics of the survey say its methodology is flawed, and while it can provide some interesting insight, it should not be used to support changes to federal election policy.

“It is not, and I don’t think the authors purport it to be, a scientific, statistically valid survey,” said Bobby Burchfield, a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP, at a Wednesday event unveiling the poll.

Burchfield, who argued a key 2003 campaign finance case before the Supreme Court on behalf of the Republican National Committee, noted numerous methodological shortcomings that he said cast doubt on the validity of the survey’s findings.

“It would be a mistake to assume that there’s much predictive value, or that public policy should be made on the basis of a non-random, self-selected, Internet survey of 302 people,” he said.

While the poll said it surveyed “business leaders,” Burchfield noted that respondents included not just those who would normally be thought of as “executives,” but also officials with job titles that included “administrator” and “director.”

The universe of 7.4 million businesses is too large for a survey of 302 employees to have much to say in terms of the business community’s overall attitudes, he said.

The survey included numerous other questions on the state of the campaign finance system. Respondents overwhelmingly said that the American campaign finance system needs to be reformed and that campaign contributors have too much influence over politicians.