New Poll That Shows Bill Lee Leading in Governor’s Race Has Direct Ties to Bill Lee Consultants

Bill Lee

The blockbuster poll released on Monday that shows Williamson County businessman Bill Lee leading the Republican gubernatorial primary for the first time was conducted by a firm that has ties to consultants to the Lee campaign, new documents reveal.

When Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee announced his candidacy in April, 2017 he indicated that Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke would be serving as general consultants for his campaign. The Tennessee Star has learned that Lee’s campaign team, and vendors, have direct ties to JMC Analytics and Polling, the polling firm that claims Bill Lee is leading in the Governor’s race. The Lee campaign did not disclose their connections to the polling firm as they have promoted the results of the supposedly independent poll, which calls into question the accuracy of the polling data.

“JMC Analytics and Polling independently conducted this poll for the Tennessee Republican primary for Governor,” the polling firm asserted in a statement on Monday when it released the poll showing Bill Lee leading the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary, just one week and three days before the August 2 primary election.

Lee faces Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06), and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) in that GOP gubernatorial primary election.

Blake Harris’ LinkedIn profile notes that he is a partner at company called Vertical Strategies. Lee’s other General Consultant, Jordan Gehrke, has a LinkedIn profile that notes he is a partner at Victory Phones.

The Detroit News reported in August 2017 that Vertical Strategies and Victory Phones are part of the political consulting empire built by Michigan based political mega-consultant, John Yob. Advictory is also listed as a company connected to Yob.

Vertical Strategies, Advictory, and Victory Phones all share the same 190 Monroe Avenue NW address in Grand Rapids, Michigan, based upon the contact information listed on their websites.

Bill Lee’s campaign has used Victory Phones and Advictory, two John Yob companies that are related to Vertical Strategies. In 2018 alone, the Lee campaign has spent $85,000 with Victory Phones and $245,990.30 with Advictory, according to filings with the Tennessee Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. (see image below)

The poll released on July 23 showing Bill Lee leading the Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary race with 26 percent  support was conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling. JMC Analytics frequently uses Victory Phones as its auto-dialer when conducting its polls. JMC did not reveal the full crosstabs for the poll–in particular the crosstabs showing the different results for respondents who said they were certain to vote in the August 2 primary compared to those who said they were uncertain they would vote in the August 2 primary. Nor did JMC Analytics and Polling reveal the vendor that conducted the auto-dialing for this particular poll. Nevertheless, the previous connections to the Bill Lee campaign consultants raises serious questions as to the independence of this poll.

A filing with the Nebraska Public Service Commission shows that Victory Phones was the auto-dialer for a survey conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling in March 2018. You can see an image from that filing below:

The Tennessee Star has also been advised that at least one contract proposal for polling services by JMC indicated that it “works with and recommends Victory Phones” as a phone vendor for its clients.

JMC’s use of Victory Phones in the past, and possibly in connection with the Tennessee polling research, shows that JMC has a shared vendor with the Bill Lee campaign – a vendor in which one of the general consultants, Jordan Gehrke, is a partner.

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said that the business connections between Lee’s campaign consultants and the polling firm that produced the “Bill Lee Leads Governor’s Race” headlines this week should make media and voters skeptical of the results.

“More importantly, the Lee campaign needs to provide substantive proof immediately as to whether or not the vendors owned by the campaigns consultants were involved in any way in this particular poll. If so, the poll that has already produces skepticism should be treated as a campaign stunt and Lee should consider whether he should retain the consultants who cooked up this illegitimate ‘independent’ poll or terminate them, particularly if they didn’t disclose their connections to him before they got caught,” Gill added.

The Tennessee Star contacted the Lee campaign late Monday night, and asked for answers to the following seven questions:

1. Did three vendors (Vertical Strategies, Advictory, and Victory Phones) that are tied to the Lee campaign consultants Blake Harris and Jordan Gehrke have any role in the JMC poll? (Records indicate Victory Phones frequently autodials for JMC polls)

2. Who handled the autodailing for this particular poll?

3. Was Bill Lee himself aware of the ties that his campaign consultants have with the polling company?

4. If their company was involved in this particular poll, was Bill Lee informed?

5. When Bill Lee was telling voters over the weekend that he is winning, was it because he had access to this poll before its release?

6. Did the Lee campaign directly or indirectly pay for the poll?

7. IF Bill Lee was not informed of the relationship between his consultants and the polling company, will he terminate them?

The Lee campaign has not yet responded.

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10 Thoughts to “New Poll That Shows Bill Lee Leading in Governor’s Race Has Direct Ties to Bill Lee Consultants”

  1. Jay

    What specifically was wrong with the polling methodology used in this poll? These “ties” between the polling group and consultants don’t automatically discredit the results of the poll.

    1. Rick

      That’s the first thing that I thought, too. This is probably much ado about nothing. The bigger question is, why do Boyd and Black feel reluctant to answer questions in a debate forum?

  2. Stuart I. Anderson

    Then again, it could just be that this “insider” /”outsider” dichotomy is simply a bunch of campaign nonsense that for some reason appeals to some people. What is most important in a candidate to me as a conservative is the candidate’s political ideology because that will give me the most insight as to how he/she will govern. Ideology can be discerned by a candidates political history, not what he says on the campaign trail. Bill Lee’s problem is the fact that he’s shown little interest in politics before, and absolutely no interest in conservative politics. Having no experience or interest in a job in a sane world is not a qualification for any job, let alone the top job in any field.

    I might not like it, you may not like it, but the most reliably conservative candidate running in this race with a good chance to win is Diane Black. I might end up voting for Lee, but only if the rest of you make me by making him most likely to beat Boyd as per the polls on August 2nd because the goal remains ANYBODY BUT BOYD.

  3. Silence Dogood

    Bill Lee may be an “outsider” but his money sure buys him lots of “insiders” advice and help. Blasting out the results of a fake poll to the MSM was misleading the public. But who ever considered a 500 person poll to be scientific when the total pool of Republican voters in the 2016 election was 1.6 million? For math challenged folks that is 3/100’s of 1% (.0003) of the total voters. At that level you might have found some of those folks believe the Earth is flat. Or that HRC should be our new governor. Hope Bill did not waste too much money on that worthless poll. Defending this poll must be painful for Bill Lee’s true believers. So sad.

    1. Raggedy Anne 77

      I don’t think you understand how statistics works.

      1. Silence Dogood

        Yes, I kinda do. You are mistaking this poll for genuine unbiased statistical polling. This is a swamp standard shake n’ bake poll designed to reinforce a point of view or create controversy. A closely affiliated problem with the shake n’ bake poll is the “echo chamber” problem for campaigns. The results are what Bill Lee and his staff feel is true and want to believe. Easy money for the pollster. After 2016 there are plenty of articles and video’s on the failures of polling you can research. But we all believe what we want to so lets find out how close these folks are on election day. And I remember that we are on the same side, as long as La Raza Randy and Karl Dean lose. MAGA!

  4. David James

    The hypocrisy of the Lee campaign is stunning – the “non-politician outsider” is running a campaign just like the career politician insiders. The “I’m for term limits” governor wannabe endorsed by politician careerist Mae Beavers who has run for and held elected office at a variety of levels and failing to make any credible progress in the gubernatorial race, decided to run for mayor. Then of course there’s another failed political careerist Joe Carr who also has held office, tried to go to DC so he could have a full time job with benefits, failed at that, tried to get back into the state legislature twice and didn’t make it. Bill Lee is playing the political game like anyone else who has run for office before. Failing to HONESTLY disclose the ties behind the favorable polling reflects the worst of career politician tactics. Don’t bee fooled – Lee knows full well the game playing – he just has no substance to back up the real job.

  5. Daniel lindsey

    All candidates use and ay for polls —- for campaign planning purposes—- they are usually more accurate than outside polls for gu8ding the campaign—-nothing sneaky or dushonest sbout this at all.

  6. […] wait! It turns out there may be a few problems with that poll, as The Tennessee Star just reported early this […]