Evidence of Past Deceptive Practices from Mailergate Profs Uncovered

Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that one of the three “researchers” involved in mailergate has a history of shady, deceptive, and unethical “research” practices.  The article noted:

…a previous study co-authored by Mr. Dropp, who is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth, in which more than 1,000 email requests were sent to Texas legislators in 2010. The emails appeared to come from Texas citizens, but were actually sent by the researchers to measure the legislators’ response rates.

“It crosses an ethical line to create fictitious people and use government resources for people who don’t exist,” Mr. Krosnick said. “There’s a habit here of lying to people.”

You can read the whole article here.  I’ve downloaded the PDF on Dropp’s fake email experiment here in case he takes it down: dropp_peskowitz_jop

Of course, we still don’t have answers on whether the “research” from this debacle is for Stanford and Dartmouth – or for CrowdPAC – or both.  Stanford isn’t saying.   Instead, as Mike Dennison reported, a Stanford spokesperson would say only that,” Any connection between CrowdPac and the project that produced the Montana mailer is part of the school’s internal investigation of the project.”

We also still don’t know if Stanford is a shareholder or holds any position in CrowdPAC, which raises additional ethics questions the school has yet to address.  I’ve previously outlined the ethical questions raised by the silicon valley start-up’s connection to mailergate here. 

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said yesterday “she believes this is the first time in Montana history that a campaign mailer has been retracted,” MTPR reported. 

Two city councilors from Montana’s capital city, Andres Haladay and Katherine Haque-Hausrath last night sent a letter to Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon condemning the fake voter guides:

Montanans take the non-partisan nature of our judicial elections very seriously.  In fact, Commissioner Haladay recently defended a portion of Montana’s Judicial Code of Ethics that prohibits candidates from seeking, accepting and using partisan endorsements.  The Federal District Court of Montana, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court all recognized that allowing such partisan identifiers in the midst of an ongoing election would be disruptive to the entire process.

We believe these fliers clearly violate the spirit of Montana’s election laws, and likely violate the substance of our laws.



23 Comments on "Evidence of Past Deceptive Practices from Mailergate Profs Uncovered"

  1. I love self-effacing humor, but not far behind it is un-self-aware humor, in which Everyone is in on a joke except the person telling it. The matters reported on here are no more than standard operating procedure for both of our corrupt political parties. That you attached a “gate” to the end of it is tawdry, cheap, and lazy.

    If by chance, Cowgirl, you are self-aware, then your reporting in this matter is not humorous, but rather just dishonest.

    • After reading through this site I was amassed at how brain wash america has become being 51yrs old ive seen alot of changes and they all are to strip us of our rights and freedoms. The comment about the schools is absolutely right I watch an environmental movement started by shoving it down our kids throats and I lost my job cause of it. Maybe instead of trying not to work and be responsible for your own lives ya outta get of the couch put down the ipad and drag your lazy behind to work and be happy you got a job. A few days without will change your mind fast and if it doesnt stop thats where we all are headed.

  2. politicalEconomist | October 29, 2014 10:40 AM at 10:40 AM |

    “Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that one of the three “researchers” involved in mailergate has a history of shady, deceptive, and unethical “research” practices.”

    Deception is allowed in experiments. IRBs approve it all the time.

    Specifically those in political office are not subject to the same strict protections that govern experiments on regular citizens.

    Why do you need this to be a conspiracy? You sound like a right winger going after climate scientists. Every mistake is not evidence of a massive partisan conspiracy.

    135,000 of these were sent out in California with the state seal and not a single complaint was made. Looks like they were conducting the experiment in many states. They may have broken MT law when they used the seal but they were trying to run a legitimate experiment and made a mistake.


    I hope once the investigations are done that Stanford will grow a spine and stand up for their researchers and scientists who may be doing unpopular research on important topics.

    • Just because some PhD has a brain fart and wishes to spend tax dollars or “private” dollars on “unpopular research into supposedly important topics” is no excuse for interfering in Montana politics. The voters are fed up with bullshit advertizing, big money and outside interests messing around with how Montanans view their political structure. If you do not live in this state, working at a job in this state, paying taxes in this state, then stay the fu*k out of our business! I remember the “Don’t Californicate Montana ” bumper stickers from years past, so don’t claim that there were 135,000 that did not complain is their state. Most Montanans believe in that if you make a mistake you own up to it instead of hiding behind your academic credentials.
      I suppose that if a couple of researchers from a prestigious university wanted to take a crap on your dinner table to judge the reaction of you, the homeowner, that it would fall under your “legitimate experiment idea”?

    • California has not complained because it is ranked 38 as one of the LEAST politically engaged states. In stark contrast, Montana is ranked 9 as one of the MOST politically engaged states.
      Source: http://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-politically-engaged-states/7782/

    • PE,
      Actually, it is a crime in Cal., just like MT. to use the State seal without permission. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/california-stanford-dartmouth-voter-mailer-investigation

      The mailer was only sent to 3 states, NH, MT and CA, but in CA it went to only 2 congressional districts. Is there a conspiracy, or just 3 professors in government or political science at esteemed universities who are too stupid to look into laws regarding appropriation of state seals prior to conducting their “careful scholarly research”? I don’t know, but I do know that they have spent a ton of time developing their DIME data, so I really have a hard time believing that they are naive or stupid.

      Of course, right now it is impossible to come to any conclusion (like you have) because the Universities have clammed up, the researchers themselves have essentially taken the 5th, and none of us have ever seen the actual research proposal supposedly submitted to the Dartmouth Board. Was that proposal the same as what was actually done? I don’t know and neither do you.

      Of course, I have no idea who you are PE, but you seem to be in quite a rush to exonerate these professors who are either, as you say, incredibly negligent and stupid, or, as some suspect, very smart and fraudulent.

      And why would the Universities “show a spine and stand up” for their employees who commit crimes in the course of their employment?

      • When you exist in an ivory tower for most of your adult life, it is easy to understand just how stupid people in these institutions really are. You have to get out into the real world to see how it actually works. Every one of these people involved in this should lose their jobs.

  3. politicalEconomist | October 29, 2014 10:49 AM at 10:49 AM |

    You will notice that of all the journalists and academics left-right-and center who are reporting and commenting on this NONE are suggesting this was an attempt to swing the election. They are all saying these guys were trying to do a scientific experiment.

    More from TPM

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 29, 2014 12:26 PM at 12:26 PM |

      Um, you don’t LIVE here, lil’ fella. This is none of your business. Get lost. We’ll take care of it. Don’t you have a blog where you live?? Geez. What a schmuck!

  4. As promised, Zinke released his military fitness reports including the 1999 report that John Lewis and a few on this site have been rabidly demanding.

    Here are the highlights from a few of Montana’s newspapers.

    From the Billings Gazette
    “……his June 1999 fitness report comments includes such descriptions of Zinke’s performance such as “(d)ynamic decisive and intelligent. Excels at the most complex taskings and assignments.”

    It says he provided “outstanding operational and fiduciary oversight for over 200 command high-risk training events while managing an annual O&M (operations and maintenance) budget in excel of $10 (million).”

    It said Zinke was singled out for “a nothing short of spectacular performance.”

    Zinke was recommended for early promotion in the fitness report. It also recommended that he attend the Navy War College.”

    “…..after the June 1999 fitness report, he later was promoted to be an executive officer and later a commander, selected to be a mission commander in Kosovo, selected to be a deputy and acting commander over special forces in Iraq, and later was officer in charge of SEAL advanced training and then chose to retire. He received two Bronze Stars and four Meritorious Service medals.”


    From the Missoulian
    “It was filled with praise for Zinke that included: “(h)igh-energy, results oriented officer.” It was written by a different superior officer who said he had had four executive officers in two command torus and Zinke is moving to the top of the list.”

    It concluded by calling Zinke “a savvy, experienced war-fighter proving equally adept in management.” The report said Lt. Cmdr. Zinke “has my complete trust and confidence.” It recommended promoting Zinke to commander as soon as possible and sending him to War College.


    “In a fitness report on Zinke in late July 2001, his superior officer said: “My number one CDR (commander) and ranks among the finest officers that I have served with during my 36 years of active duty. A superstar who has earned my complete trust and strongest personal recommendations for an immediate CO (commanding officer) assignment. … If you screen just one officer for command, screen CDR (Commander) Zinke. He is that good!”

    “A July 2004 fitness report called Zinke a “brilliant” chief staff officer “who excels at leading the largest command in Naval Special Warfare. In my 28 years of active duty, nobody does it better or with more enthusiasm, integrity and courageous leadership. … A superstar.”

    “His fitness reports both before the June 1999 report and after it until he retired were filled with similar praise.”


    While Zinke picked up a fortune in free earned media attention rebutting his critics and highlighting his accomplishments, the Lewis camp has gone noticeable quiet.

    FYI, the Gravis Poll just came out – Zinke 53% – Lewis 41%

  5. Did the commenters above miss the fact that in Montana this mailing inserted politics into a nonpartisan state Supreme Court election, in violation of at least four state laws? Use of the state seal was the least of the violations. This has nothing to do with “unpopular research on important topics.” It was a criminal act, a misdemeanor under Montana law. Go ahead and defend that as academic freedom, if you will.

  6. Some of the Above Republican and idiot comments prove without a doubt how the Republicans will go to any length to smooth over lies, deceptive Practices, and an Immoral Up-bringing to make a point,

    They Gloss over the stealing of funds of Zinke to buy tickets for himself and the blockheads he took with him to Montana in Vacations. He stole funds from the US Government. JUst like the GOP congress has stolen funds from Social security. Stealing is stealing. Thats what they knocked Walsh with for Plagiarism; the stealing of words. But apparently it is not the same when its there guy, Walsh’s career was stellar also until he went to war college after his tours and he had to step down. But the Gop see nothing wrong with , Stealing, Leaving your wives who have cancer to die alone, or fly to another country to screw another woman behind their wives Bank using state Funds. All someone has to do is evoke the name of a certain religion’s God. and all’s better.

    This is the twisted version of American Exceptionalism the GOP want to portray!

    Than the Mailers. Proof positive that there was Deceptive Practices behind it. By people we know, have been paid in the past by Conservative think Tanks. buts thats okay this time, because the GOP/heritage goons not scientists basically used Liberal money to pull off the crime…. they see using Liberal money against liberals as a plus?

    Whats the old adage to speak here. Two wrongs don’t make a right!

    Two kinds of theft here Outright in Zinkes case, and deceptive as in using Money for the wrong purposes for science.

    This is what the GOP have proved they will do to our government, or land and our people?

    As usual you can count me out!

    • And how about Zinke’s ‘SuperPac’ of ‘super warriors’, attacking the White House and all of a sudden right
      before Zinke’s campaign a year later, and Zinke says no connection!!?? What a load of hooey!

  7. It sounds to me, from these comments, that the eggheads are scared.

  8. politicalEconomist | October 29, 2014 3:33 PM at 3:33 PM |

    “You can read the whole article here. I’ve downloaded the PDF on Dropp’s fake email experiment here in case he takes it down: dropp_peskowitz_jop”

    Why would he take it down?

    It was heavily peer reviewed and published in one of the top 3 journals in his field. You can find it on Google Scholar or the Journal’s website:


    There are hundreds and hundreds of experiments like this published on journals. Except for using the seal these experiments were not out of the ordinary.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 29, 2014 3:45 PM at 3:45 PM |

      Go away, Ivy. You don’t live here, moron. We’ll take it from here, little inbred Kokch implant! It’s none of your concern. We don’t like meddlers! Take care of the inbreds that mail garbage to YOUR state, whatever that might be.

  9. politicalEconomist | October 29, 2014 3:52 PM at 3:52 PM |

    Not sure who Ivy is but your proposal sounds fair Larry. I do have a question thats been eating me up.

    Who are the Environmental Rangers? Are they like the Power Rangers? If so which color do you wear and what are your powers?

    Thanks P.E.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 29, 2014 6:08 PM at 6:08 PM |

      Oh sorry. I maybe confused you with that dink who claims to have an Ivy league degree. Sorry. But for the record, where are you from? Do you live here in Montana? I think we deserve to know. For Montana is a different kinda place than the rest of the country.

      • Back on your meds, Larry :-/

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | October 29, 2014 8:02 PM at 8:02 PM |

          Back in OUR state, dink? Don’t you have any issues where YOU live, Ivy?? Again, it’ our issue to deal with. You’re nuthin’ but a Kockh implant. And that’s lower than a rattle snake belly here in Montana! For your anus is always draggin’ on the ground!

          • Been here for years, and family goes back to the 1890s; how ’bout you, you exposed lying delusional?

            Koch implant? Never been a fan. You’ve been b**tch slapped down yet again. Don’t you ever get tired of it?

            And you had the gall to say you’ve got nothing against Christianity on the other page, after all your “Jaysus” and “inbred” snipings and “farm animal love” posts?

            Hilarious. But I get tired of handing you your @$$ back. Either get back on the meds like I told you, or stop insulting people in violation of site policy and crawl back under your rock.

  10. Excellent reporting Cowgirl! There is a yet-to-be-discovered back story here. Stay on it!

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