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Rove’s Dirty Little Surprise


UPDATEMatt at MyDD has more on the robocall issue, including the connections that all of this skanky behavior has to Tom DeLay, the convictions in New Hampshire for phone jamming, and Terry Nelson, the head of oppo research for the NRCC.  You tell me — are the GOP trying to cheat their way through this election?  Shameful and wrong.  More media coverage on this issue please!


The National Republican Campaign Committee may be coming to a phone near you.  I'm getting multiple reports from all over the country — in districts where the races are close, and even some where the Democratic candidate has moved ahead pretty substantially — of a robocall blitz.

These recorded calls are designed to do repeated call-backs and they have been masquerading as coming from Democratic candidates.  Except they are not.  They are coming from the National Republican Campaign Committee. 

And it seems that it isn't just me getting reports on this very dirty attempt to suppress Democratic turn-out:

Sure, "political speech" is exempt from FCC regulations prohibiting unwanted phone solicitations. But since most Americans consider unsolicited calls an invasion of privacy, why would any campaign flood voters with prefab rhetoric?

Yes, the tactic is cheap – in many cases, pennies a phone call, compared with the $15 to $30 an hour pols used to have to pay for telemarketers to call the old-fashioned way.

There are dozens of online computerized-call firms available to do the dirty work. And it's much cheaper in a costly media market such as Philadelphia to use robocalls than to pay for TV ads.

Josh Marshall at TPM has been reporting on this with information he has gotten from readers. And there is a fabulous DKos diary on the subject that is a must read, which includes some really helpful, practical information on combatting these robocalls. 

If you or someone you know is being bombarded by these repeat robocalls, there is something you can do:

The culprit in this race is the National Republican Congressional Committee, an organization that's used such scurrilous campaign tactics this season that it has been disavowed in some instances by the candidates it is supporting….

You can complain to the FCC if you think the calls are illegal, as some Murphy supporters have done. (202-418-1440, phone; 202-418-0232, fax.)

Or you can do what I briefly considered yesterday: Send the NRCC your own robocalls telling it to STOP IT!

Try – 12 cents a call, no minimum. The NRCC's number is 202-479-7000.

Now that's what I call pushback.  What else can you do?  If you or folks in your area are getting robocalls, make a call yourself to the local newspaper or television station, and tell them about this problem and it's likely culprit.  And ask them to look into it like the reporter from Philly did. 

Call into local talk radio and gripe about the Republicans pulling a dirty trick.  Talk with your neighbors, your co-workers, family and friends and see if they are having a problem with this.  And contact your local Democratic office and have them get in touch with their election legal team and/or state party folks to lodge a complaint and get someone in front of a television camera to denounce this asinine stunt pronto.

From what I am hearing, this problem is widespread across the whole of the nation.  I've got reports from folks in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire.  And that's just the e-mail that I've gotten to this morning.

This is a dirty, juvenile trick.  Just the sort of jackass maneuver we've come to expect from Rove and Kenny Boy Mehlman and their pack of dirty cronies.  You do remember that there have been convictions in the NH phone jamming case from the last election cycle with the GOP tricksters, right?

And you can file a complaint about it under FCC regs, if you can show who has been doing the calling.  (See the above linked DKos diary for ways to do just that.)  This is, plain and simple, an attempt to tamper with votes — and the Republican party ought to be ashamed of itself.  That is, if they had any scruples left…which I doubt.  Pathetic.

Also, there has been substantial push polling this election season — the Patriot Project has been doing some great work on this issue.  As has TPM Muckraker, which has done great coverage of my local race push poll group, EFF.  (Thanks for the irritation. Mr. Perry.  Wish WV's AG had done what Indiana's did and blocked your sorry ass from calling everyone nonstop.)  John also has more.  And the NYTimes has a great article explaining push polling, in case you have questions as to what it is.

The best way to expose this idiocy and embarass the GOP smarm merchants who are pushing it?  Make tapes of these calls, phone your local television station, and demand that the GOP stop its manipulative voter suppression.   (Here's one idea for recording calls.)  Also, if you can, get the phone number — and post it in the comments as well as phoning it in to your state Attorney General's office, and then phone it in to 1-888-DEM-VOTE, which is the DNC's voter protection hotline, and the testimonials received will be the foundation for any legal action, as well as a reliable central repository for follow-up contact information.

If you are working for a Democratic campaign and getting complaint calls, send them right back to the Republican in the race or the local Republican headquarters.  Have those phone numbers at the ready for folks answering phones at the campaign office — these folks have to learn that this sort of skanky attempt to dissuade low information voters or undecideds is cheating, pure and simple.

Had enough?  Vote for Democrats.  Because this sort of crap has got to stop.

NOTE:  If you have problems voting, or you witness some sort of voting irregularity, here's some useful information.

Election Protection's 1-866-OUR-VOTE has live operators who can address some problems over the phone and dispatch lawyers on the ground, if necessary.

Common Cause's 1-866-MYVOTE-1 can help people find their polling place.

I'm giving you these numbers now because having them handy before you need them is the way to go.  For more information on your voting rights, see this from the DNC.  

We have one more day until the election — anything you can do to help to get out our vote would be very much appreciated.  America is counting on all of us.  So cast your ballot, and make sure you take some folks along with you to do the same.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com