Pollster Pleads Guilty to Making Up Poll Results

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Tracy Costin, owner of DataUSA Inc. (now ViewPoint USA) pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. DataUSA Inc. has conducted polls for George W. Bush and Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

Costin was indicted for telling employees to alter poll data. An employee estimates that 50% of the data sent to Bush’s campaign was falsified. An assistant U.S. Attorney says that “Sometimes, the respondent’s gender or political affiliation were changed to meet a quota, other times all survey answers were fabricated.” These fabrications came about when the polling company was working under the pressure of a deadline.

Costin faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She has agreed to pay almost $83,000 in restitution to clients.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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