The accusation is about as inflammatory as one can get. For professional pollsters, a reputation for fairness and accuracy is everything.
The damage to Research 2000 will be substantial, if not deadly.
Moulitsas could have simply filed suit, and the media could have run with the story based on what was in the court filing. Since court filings are absolutely privileged, Moulitsas could have put his accusations into the public domain without putting himself at legal risk for defamation and other torts. Instead, Moulitsas has issued multiple press statements even before filing suit.
Moulitsas better be right in his accusations, or he can kiss his personal fortune and Daily Kos goodbye.
Let the lawsuits begin.
Update 6-30-2010: The attorney for Research 2000 and its owner, Del Ali, is threatening legal action too:
Two pieces of good news in this story. First, a lawsuit will bring out the truth not only as to whether Research 2000 committed fraud, but the interaction between Markos and the polling firm. Was Markos pushing the polling firm for certain results, what was he telling them privately, etc. The e-mails between Markos and Research 2000 may be more interesting than the JournoList.
Ali's attorney, Richard Beckler of Howrey LLP in Washington, told TPMmuckraker in an interview, "This guy [Markos] is completely all wet. This allegation of fraud is absurd." He added, "These guys are basically ruining Mr. Ali's business."
Beckler promised to take "some kind of action soon against all of them" -- referring to Kos and the three authors of the analysis calling R2K's data into question.
Second, the more money Markos spends fighting Research 2000, the less money he has to fight conservatives. I would not be surprised to see Markos set up a legal fund to fight this battle seeking donations from the base. Donate away, as far as I am concerned. Every dollar donated to Markos' lawsuit is a dollar drained from some Democratic candidate somewhere.
Research 2000's polling has been questioned as to accuracy for a long time. On the eve of the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley election, Research 2000 showed a dead heat, which Markos trumpeted, while other pollsters showed Brown with a significant lead. Research 2000 was wrong, but were they fraudulent?
Markos accused Rasmussen of being nothing more than a Republican puppet, and trying to set an anti-Democratic Party narrative, Rasmussen's (dishonest) game. While the allegations against Rasmussen clearly were political gripes, the allegations against Research 2000 are much more serious.
Markos made his fortune shooting his mouth off. Now he may lose that fortune the same way.
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