Now, I’m no fan of straw polls. It is one thing if the voting universe is small. But it is not at many, and straw polls are usually arbitrary fundraising adventures for the hosts. And for the winners, they are a way of buying headlines. The Romney campaign has been touting their successes with the recent South Carolina straw polls. Just like they touted their successes after buying the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and CPAC(two articles).
Salon has the run-down on this:
At some point on Friday night, Esther Wagner, the county GOP treasurer, spotted a Romney aide across the hall, and accused him of paying delegate fees to pump up Romney’s poll numbers. Wagner’s suspicions had been aroused earlier in the month, when she received a stack of last-minute registrations from about 15 to 20 people. Most of the fees had been paid in cash. "That is unusual," said Wagner, who has done work on the side for another candidate, John Cox, a minor rival to Romney. "Most people pay [by] check." Then she got a call from a Romney supporter named Jeff Lynch, who mentioned in passing that someone had paid his fee.
"Chris Slick, who is Romney’s grass-roots field coordinator, was emphatically denying it," says Betty Poe, the president of the Greenville County Republican Women’s Club. According to three separate accounts of the incident, Slick maintained that neither the Romney campaign, nor any campaign staff, had paid delegate fees. "But he said an individual paid for someone," Poe remembers.
"We were delegates of Mitt Romney, so we didn’t have to pay," Lynch said. Like thousands of South Carolinians, Lynch and his wife, Melissa, have been bombarded with direct mail from the presidential candidates. He sent back a card from Romney, saying he would like to help. Sometime later, he said, Slick, the Romney aide, showed up at his door, and told him not to worry about the money. "He came over and we signed papers to be delegates, so we wouldn’t have to pay the $15 fee," Lynch said. "Is there a problem?"
Perhaps the problem is that the Romney campaign is struggling to find a way to be honest. Again…
Buying straw polls is fine. Touting winning straw polls that you bought is fine. (although a little weird) Lying about buying straw polls is not. Touting victories in straw polls that you are lying about buying is dumb. Especially when you get caught.