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Breaking: source of deceptive NC robo-calls exposed

And it isn’t a Republican effort. Chris Kromm of Facing South broke this story yesterday and has done more investigative digging and it’s not pretty — there will be calls for an answer to this. The source of the calls, which is a D.C.-based nonprofit called Women’s Voices Women Vote, which says it is trying to reach “unmarried women voters.” You’ll recall that the deceptive message told voters that they had to wait for a packet to fill out before they could vote.

Hello, this is Lamont Williams. In the next few days, you will receive a voter registration packet in the mail. All you need to do is sign it, date it and return your application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return the voter registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”

Chris got a hold of a press release from the group, and questions about ties to Hillary Clinton. More below the fold.Chris:

So who is Women’s Voices Women Vote, and why are they making shadowy and legally-questionable calls that are causing North Carolina voters so many headaches?

The D.C.-based nonprofit, led by well-connected Washington operatives, claims in a press release they sent to Facing South [PDF] that the North Carolina calls are part of a 24-state effort targeted at a list of 3 million voters, especially unmarried women. The robo-calls, which never mention Women’s Voices, are followed by mailings that include information on how to register to vote. They plan to mail some 276,000 packets in North Carolina alone.

But since last November, in at least 11 states nationwide, Women’s Voices — sometimes working through its Voter Participation Center project — has developed a checkered reputation, drawing rebukes from leading election officials and complaints from thousands of would-be voters as a result of their secretive tactics, deceptive mailings and calls, and penchant for skirting or violating the law.

I don’t know what, if anything,  the following ties mean, but considering the deceptive calls, at least a statement should be forthcoming to clarify any biases or relationships.

Some have also questioned the ties between Women’s Voices operatives and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. Gardner, for example, contributed $2,500 to Clinton’s HILLPAC on May 4, 2006, and in March 2005 she donated a total of $4,200 to Clinton, according to The Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org. She has not contributed to the Obama campaign, according to the database.

Women’s Voices Executive Director Joe Goode worked for Bill Clinton’s election campaign in 1992 as a pollster; the group’s website says he was intimately involved in “development and implementation of all polling and focus groups done for the presidential primary and general election campaigns” for Clinton.

Women’s Voices board member John Podesta, former Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton, donated $2,300 to Hillary Clinton on April 19, 2007, according to OpenSecrets.org. Podesta also donated $1,000 to Barack Obama in July 2004, but that was well before Obama announced his candidacy for president.

“The reports from other states are very disturbing, especially the pattern of mass confusion among targeted voters on the eve of a state’s primary,” Democracy North Carolina’s Bob Hall tells Facing South. “These are highly skilled political operatives — something doesn’t add up.  Maybe it’s all well-intended and explainable. At this moment, our first priority is to stop the robo-calls and prevent the chaos and potential disenfranchisement caused by this group sending 276,000 packets of registration forms into North Carolina a few days before a heated primary election. We need their immediate cooperation.”

While Hall says his group has “begged” the group to stop the mailings, but as if this writing, Women’s Voices has not done so — even though the mail-in voter registration deadline for the primaries passed April 11.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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