Commentary: CALLED OUT: Jim Wrye, Lobbyist for State Affiliate of the National Education Assocation, ‘Dropped a Whopper of a Lie’


We all remember learning the Presidents’ Day lessons in school: the virtuous stories, the inspiring anecdotes, and the values of character. These are the traits all our elected officials should exemplify.

But the sad truth is, such virtue is a high standard for any elected official to keep. So much so that nowadays, we celebrate the rare instance when a politician takes an unpopular position because he believes it to be right. Far too many seek power before they seek what’s right.

So what happens when a particular position you hold is both wrong AND unpopular. Well, if you’re Jim Wrye, lobbyist for the state affiliate of the National Education Association, the answer is easy: Just lie about it being unpopular.

Last month, in an effort to take advantage of desperation of politicians, Jim Wrye dropped a whopper of a lie.

In a press release befitting a world of “fake news,” Jim publicly declared that he had polled 6,510 Tennesseans and that 59.5 percent of them agreed that children should be given no option other than their government-assigned school. . . That is not a typo. He said SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND TEN. You can read his exact words here:

Tennesseans strongly reject private school vouchers, according to the largest and most comprehensive polling data on the subject. TEA [Tennessee Education Association, the state affiliate of the National Education Association] extensively surveyed rural, urban and suburban voters in all three Grand Divisions of the state, with an oversample of highly-likely Republican primary voters. The polls were conducted May through October of 2016.

Of the 6,510 respondents, 59.5 percent rejected private school vouchers, 29 percent approved. The two-to-one negative opinion was consistent across geographic and demographic groups. The polling margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

“I’ve rarely seen such a strong negative opinion. It is clear Tennesseans do not like or want school vouchers,” said Jim Wrye, TEA Government Relations manager. “We are a conservative state that values our local traditions and institutions. Vouchers are a radical idea that attack and weaken the foundation of our communities — our public schools.”

For those of you who worked in politics or even spent a few minutes on FiveThirtyEight or RealClearPolitics during the Presidential Election, that number probably jumps out at you immediately.  It jumps out because you have never seen a real poll that with a sample anywhere near 6,510. Few ever top 1,000. And the reason you would never see a poll with a sample size of 6,510 is because any pollster worth his salt would charge close to $250,000 to get it right.

There’s another even more blatantly obvious problem with this phony poll’s methodology.

Note that TEA claims the poll was conducted over a five month period, from May to October.

No legitimate polling firm would ever conduct a single poll over a five month period.

Polls are designed to take a snap shot of public opinion at a certain period of time. Almost every public opinion poll released by a legitimate polling firm is conducted over a three day period — maximum.

So why inflate your numbers, Jim? Was it for the same reason most men inflate their numbers? Did you just want to be loved? Or did you think if you showed legislators a big fancy number that they’d all thank you and declare that they will support your effort to join hands against President Trump and a major plank of the Republican Party Platform?

Of course, this far too obvious lie was exposed quickly by … about everyone in Tennessee.

In less than 24 hours, the story around the legislature wasn’t that public opinion has CHANGED! It was the overall sense of pity, mockery, and a general dismay at Jim’s rollout of his bogus, sad little poll. And it wasn’t that hard to figure out either. For one, the pollster he used was not a reliable one. It was the same hack robo-pollster who took the House Caucus’ money last year, while at the very same time working AGAINST the very same members of the House Caucus they were paid to help. And this wasn’t just your typical primary shenanigans. They did this in the GENERAL election.

And, as apparent to anyone who has taken a high school statistics class, the poll itself was riddled with basic errors. So outlandish that even the NRSC’s director Ward Baker took time away from the joyous project crushing Elizabeth Warren’s dreams to call it out.

Poor old Jim.

It seems his history of stretching the truth has finally caught up with him. After Jim was caught lying to a state House legislative committee (he said, “No dues money goes to political purposes for the NEA,” while at the very same time, the NEA was funneling millions of their members’ hard-earned dues money right into a Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton. )

We were not sure that Jim could sink any lower. But like any exciting historical figure, Jim continues to defy expectations.


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