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Political Analysis: The Ethics Of Fundraising Surveys

Audio

Aired 9/30/09

Mailers from political parties asking for your opinion are often just thinly disguised attempts at fundraising. But some recent "surveys" may have gone over the line in partisan political distortion. KPBS Political correspondent Gloria Penner talks with a real pollster to find out more about these fundraising techniques.

Maureen Cavanaugh: "Elected representatives in Washington urgently need to know your opinion on a variety of topics, so be sure to return this survey now."

That kind of language is contained in so-called surveys sent out by both the Republican and Democratic parties. And if you didn't feel partisan before you saw the slanted questions in the copy, you sure will after. The real goal, of course, is to ruffle your political feathers enough that you'll open your wallet and send some financial support. But when the questions are not just slanted but actually false, we've entered into a realm of political advertising that is questionable to say the least.

One thing is certain about these urgent partisan surveys sent out in mass mailings: they should have thought twice before sending one to KPBS Political correspondent Gloria Penner. She's here now to tell us about the letter she received from the Republican National Committee and what she's found out about this form of political solicitation.

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