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Portland pollster accused of push-polling in New Hampshire

Possible violation of state law could land Moore Information in hot water

Oregon's leading Republican pollster has become enmeshed in a dispute among Republican presidential candidates in the New Hampshire primary.

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte is alleging that Portland's Moore Information engaged in 'push-polling' in violation of New Hampshire law.

Push-polling typically involves anonymous telephone callers who raise negative information about a political candidate in the guise of conducting a neutral poll. New Hampshire law requires the callers to identify which candidate they are representing.

Voters in New Hampshire reported receiving calls about former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney that some viewed as containing anti-Mormon information. Romney is attempting to become the nation's first Mormon president.

According to a news release issued Thursday, Jan. 3, by Ayotte, the firm that conducted the actual telephone poll was Western Wats, of Orem, Utah. But, Ayotte's release said, Moore Information hired Western Wats to conduct the poll, and "was involved in developing the content of the transcript for the poll, and set the dates for the poll to be conducted in New Hampshire."

The New Hampshire attorney general has issued a subpoena to Moore, demanding to know which candidate the firm is representing. A show-cause hearing was set Jan. 16 to determine whether Moore must comply.

Ayotte on Thursday issued a public plea for citizens to come forward and identify which candidate Moore represents.

Bob Moore, principal of Moore Information, was out of his office on business and did not return phone calls Thursday. However, he issued a written statement denying that his company engages in any push polling. The statement did not address whether Moore might have hired another firm to do polling in New Hampshire, however.

Moore's statement also said that, 'in accordance with standard industry practices, confidentiality agreements prohibit comment on specific surveys.'

Moore is considered the go-to pollster among Oregon Republicans, and has long represented Sen. Gordon Smith, the state's top GOP elected official and a prominent Mormon.