Monday, November 06, 2006

NRCC dirty tricks

Read this today on Slashdot. Over the weekend, the National Republican Congressional Committee was involved in some dirty tricks with telephone calls. In 53 districts the NRCC has been conducting a robocall (automated telephone message) campaign that makes it look, at first, like Democrats are spamming people with phone calls.

The NRCC spent $2.1 million to send automated calls to people in these districts.

The message starts with, "Hello, I'm calling with information about" followed by the name of a Democrat in the particular district. If the person hangs up at this point, they could get another call back. One person reported getting called by these automated systems 18 times. In another district a person reported receiving the calls as late as 2:30 a.m.

If the caller listens long enough, the message goes on to slam the Democrat. Often the information given in slamming the candidate is wrong or misleading. In Illinois one of the messages said, "Illinois families will be footing the bill for illegal immigrants who get government benefits," in spite of the fact that there is no evidence to support that this is a Democratic position.

According to the Democrats they used one set of automated "robocalls" for this election, a campaign so small it cost them $500.

These calls break a number of rules. Automated calls are supposed to say who they are from right up front. There are limits to how many times you can call one person, and how late you can call. New Hampshire has a law preventing even the NRCC contacting people on the state's "no call" list, but that was violated.

The idea behind this is simple. If someone hangs up early, keep calling. Unless you listen to more than the beginning, it sounds like it's a call from the Democrats. A number of people have apparently complained about these "Democrat" calls, so apparently the tactic works.

Regardless of one's political leanings, folks have to admit that this is an underhanded, dirty trick, and one that's illegal. I'm sure they'll be fined, but whatever fine they are forced to pay will be worth it to them if they retain control of the House.

The Slashdot article is here:

The Boston Globe as an article on it here:

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