Regular NC Policy Watch readers will no doubt recall some of our previous stories on the rather curious Raleigh-based group co-founded by Lt. Gov Dan Forest shortly before his run for state office — a group called the Faith Driven Consumer. As we reported back in 2012 shortly after the election, Forest co-founded the organization (a group that, among other things, recommends boycotting Sears because its catalogs feature lingerie models) with a guy named Christopher Stone:
Basically, the group purports to provide seals of approval for companies that it decides comport with “Christian” and “Biblical” values (note that for the group’s purposes “Christian” and “Biblical” mean conservative, fundamentalist Christianity). It then promotes the companies to the supposed tens of millions of Americans whom it claims will be swayed by such information.
It’s not clear from the website how the company reviews occur, who does the work or whether the companies ever pay for the ratings they receive.
In another interesting twist, however, Forest’s partner in the nonprofit, Christopher Stone, runs a for-profit consulting/advertising agency (he calls it a “branding consultancy”) out of the same offices that purports to do essentially the same thing. Indeed, the website for The Stone Agency (the “t” in Stone looks like a cross) shares many of the same words and sentences that one finds on FaithDrivenConsumer.org….
To make things even a little stranger, Stone and Forest also registered yet another nonprofit last March with a similar objective called True Trust Brands. That nonprofit, which also has a website, also claims the same address as its home base and the same basic mission.
Finally, to complete (apparently anyway) the rather complex corporate picture, Stone also runs a for-profit real estate business out of the same location. (When I called the Stone Agency yesterday to see if I could ask a few questions about these enterprises and the connections to Forest, I was told that Stone’s wife Michele was “in the office” and that she would call me back. She has yet to do so.)
Forest resigned from the Faith Driven Consumer a while back but from all indications remains a faith-driven politician. Now it appears that his old partner Christopher Stone has added another institution to his network of conservative interests. Raleigh’s News & Observer reports that Stone has helped launch a conservative polling firm that aspires to be taken seriously like Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling — a progressive-leaning firm that has one of the nation’s best track records. The fact that the new group refuses to release its “crosstabs” like PPP and other legitimate firms, however, raises real questions about how successful the effort will be.
Still, with Stone’s (and Forest’s) connections, it’s hard to imagine that the group won’t grab some attention for a while. It’s already claiming – surprise! –that Gov. McCrory is more popular than reported elsewhere. One can only imagine how a poll on Forest would turn out.
And if the political polling isn’t taken seriously, who knows? Maybe the firm can generate some attention by sampling public attitudes toward lingerie catalogs.