As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

March of the Robocalls

I've done about 7 hours of legitimate phone calling into Democratic households this weekend. Apparently there have been just as many, if not more, man-hours spent on flooding Democratic voters with robocalls designed to sound like they're coming from the Democratic candidate when in fact they're being paid for by the NRCC. It's gotten to the point where I feel like I have to apologize to people for calling to break the ice with them. This is a really dirty trick.

Here's how it works. Automated calls are placed into Democratic households 10 times a day, at all hours including the middle of the night. They say things like "I want to tell you about (Democratic candidate)" to make it sound like that's where they're coming from. In fact they're part of a coordinated strategy to piss people off and sour them to the Democratic candidate. And if you hang up before the message is over, it calls right back. Only at the very end of the message is there evidence that this call came from a Republican campaign committee.

If you can't win on the issues or your record, you have to resort to Bush-league crap like this. There are documented reports coming out about this practice all over the country, in Pennsylvania, Kansas, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York. In New Hampshire, at least, the Attorney General thinks it's illegal:

A homeowner in Hillsboro received the same message several times in one day. It began by stating it had information about Paul Hodes, the Democratic challenger for the 2nd Congressional District.

After a few seconds, the ad turns on the attack. It isn't until the end that you find out it was sponsored by the Republican National Congressional Committee.

"I think this is wrong," said Martha Child. "When you go out to campaign, you say what you believe. You use radio, TV and other things. I don't think you call up and say, 'So-and-so is nasty' on someone's private line."

Child's frustration with the ad caused her to file a complaint with the New Hampshire attorney general's office. Her telephone number is listed on the Do Not Call registry, and she felt that she shouldn't have received the calls.

"It is not permissable to send prerecorded political calls to individuals who are on the Do Not Call list in New Hampshire," said Assistant Attorney General Jim Kennedy.

While political calls are exempt from the federal Do Not Call regulations, New Hampshire modified that law when the state adopted it. It makes prerecorded political messages illegal if they're called to people on the registry.

This is a national campaign tactic to dishonestly misrepresent Democrats. If New Hampshire successfully prosecutes this, the NRCC could be on the hook for millions of dollars in fines for breaking the law.

Just remember this when you vote. One side's trying to cheat their way to victory.