The Club for Growth will now require candidates take a personality survey before it will interview them and consider them for an endorsement, according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.
“Starting immediately, all candidates who want to be interviewed will be asked to complete the Culture Index Survey before we schedule the meeting,” Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs, emailed staff Tuesday.
The Club is a conservative group that, through its political arm, Club for Growth Action, endorses and provides significant financial support to Republican candidates who meet its criteria. The group has backed a number of high-profile conservatives — including Sens. Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey, a former president of the Club — and has been one of the more successful outside actors in influencing Republican primaries. On policy positions and in campaigns, the organization is often allied with the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
The goal of the survey, Roth said in his email, is to help the Club identify potential “rock stars,” in conjunction with the rest of the Club’s vetting process.
The email does not provide any information on what the survey entails or any specific personal characteristics the group is hoping to avoid or is searching for. But the company Culture Index describes its method as being comprised of a “quick survey” that gathers information on “seven work-related traits.”
“There is no passing or failing,” and “There are no correct or incorrect answers,” according to the website.
Roth, in a phone call with BuzzFeed News Thursday, described it as not dissimilar to the kind of “assessment” one might take “when you apply for a job at a company.”
The results of a candidate’s survey, Roth wrote in his email, will remain confidential, and the survey itself will eventually be added to the Club’s website so that candidates, and potential candidates, can easily access it.
“I’m confident that this survey will not be a litmus test for us,” Roth wrote in the email. “It won’t replace the candidate interview or our research. It will just be one more data point for us to consider when we deliberate on a race.”
The Club for Growth has a rigorous vetting process for candidates, including, Roth told BuzzFeed News, interviews, polling, and opposition research.
But, he said, “sometimes it’s difficult to decide if what they’re telling us is true. So we ask them questions about policy, we ask them questions about their campaign. So the Culture Index Survey is one more data point that kind of gives an idea of what they are like and what their campaign is like.”
The group will use survey results from Freedom Caucus members as a baseline to help them figure out what to look for.
“Our hope is that several of our Freedom Caucus allies on the Hill will take the survey so that we’ll know the rough profile of a hardcore, rock star member of Congress,” Roth wrote in the email. “We can then compare that profile to the candidate results. I can think of several candidates this cycle whom leave us guessing whether or not they will be rock stars (Caryn Tyson, Mike Braun, Ryan Mackenzie, etc). The survey will hopefully remove those doubts. We shall see.”
“Good work,” wrote David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, in a response later that day. “Let's quickly get some of our elected Members and Senators to take this ASAP, so we see if any real pattern emerges.”
Roth told BuzzFeed News they were hoping to “have as many people as possible take it — whether it’s candidates or lawmakers or anybody — just so we can better understand.”
In his email, Roth wrote that he anticipates some candidates will balk at taking the test. “We’ll have to deal with it when that happens, but my hope is that we are as close to ‘zero exceptions’ as possible,” he wrote.
The email announcing the use of the Culture Index Survey was sent Tuesday. BuzzFeed News obtained the email Thursday, as Republicans were reeling from allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, after a woman told the Washington Post she had a sexual relationship with Moore when he was 32 and she was 14. The Club met with Moore, but ultimately chose not to make an endorsement.
Asked if the goal of this survey was to prevent disclosures like the allegations against Moore from coming out about candidates, Roth said it was not.
“I wouldn’t think that hard about it,” he replied.
Alexis Levinson is a reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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