Flawed Testimony and Unreliable Results Render Kellyanne Conway’s Work Useless to Whole Foods
Kellyanne Conway began her career as a professional pollster in 1988, interning for Ronald Regan’s pollster, Dick Wirthlin. Later in 1995, she founded her own company, The Polling Company/WomenTrend. She is now known to most Americans as Counselor to President Donald Trump.
In 2007, Whole Foods was preparing for a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against them and their proposed purchase of the organic grocery store, Wild Oats. Whole Foods hired Conway to create a survey which would “support the testimony of David Scheffman, a former FTC official with experience testifying on behalf of companies in antitrust suits”. Scheffman’s position was that consumers who frequented both Wild Oats and Whole Foods, also shopped at other grocery stores and those secondary stores “competed for the business of the crossover customers”. Conway’s task was to come up with a survey that supported these theories.
However, once the survey, designed by Conway was brought before the DC District Court, it was thrown out and the court would not lend “any weight or consideration” to the survey because of its flawed methodology. Specifically, the FTC’s expert, Kent Van Liere, stated in his testimony that his “overall opinion in this matter is that Ms. Conway’s survey methodology and procedures are fundamentally flawed and render her data and results unreliable”. And, unfortunately for Conway and Whole Foods, the court agreed, excluding her testimony.
In her current position, Conway find herself in the media spotlight on a regular basis. And based on the first few months as Counselor to President Trump, she has already brought her toes to the line, and in some cases, crossed it on several occasions. If her job continues to put her in such positions, and she continues to play the part of master spin-doctor, she may very well find herself in front of a judge again soon. Cases like this highlight the importance of studying Daubert challenge results prior to retaining and cross-examining your next expert witness.