November 6, 2006
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530
Kevin J. Martin
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Michael E. Toner
Federal Election Commission
999 E St., NW
Washington, DC 20463
Dear Chairmen Martin, Toner and Attorney General Gonzales:
We write to demand an immediate investigation concerning allegations of unethical and possibly illegal prerecorded phone calls designed to confuse voters in Tuesdayâs election. These misleading calls are made late in the evening, or during the night, in an effort to generate anger at the Democratic candidate, who is in no way associated with this harassment. In fact, the calls are being funded by the National Republican Campaign Committee, which has reportedly provided $600,000 to fund this deception.
There have been numerous media reports about these calls, which appear to be occurring in dozens of districts. It is also our understanding that the Republican Party has been forced to stop the calls in New Hampshire.
According to the Associated Press, one individual âreceived three prerecorded messages in four hours. Each began, âHello, Iâm calling with information about [Democratic candidate] Lois Murphy [in the Philadelphia area].ââ The Philadelphia Daily News reported that â[t]he calls, which begin by offering âimportant information about Lois Murphy,â are designed to mislead voters into thinking the message is from her.â
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that a ânational Republican group yesterday scuttled a pre-recorded phone call effort the state Attorney Generalâs Office said may have violated New Hampshire law by contacting residents listed on the federal Do Not Call registry.â
In Illinois, The Barrington Courier-Review reported that a resident received the following phone call â âHi. Iâm calling with information about [Democratic Candidate] Melissa Bean.â She received the same call a total of 21 times since October 24. Others reported receiving the same calls, none of which were paid for by Ms. Bean or any Democratic group.
If true, these allegations could violate a number of federal laws and legal requirements. Among other things, 47 CFR 1200 (b)(1) provides that prerecorded telephone messages must â[a]t the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call.â Section 441h of the Federal Election Campaign Act provides that no agent of a federal candidate shall âfraudulently misrepresent himself or any committee or organization under his control as speaking or otherwise writing or acting for or behalf of any other candidate or political party.â Section 441d(d)(2) specifies that communications must provide a statement as to the party responsible for it, and the campaign finance laws generally prohibit fraudulent and deceptive activities. A number of state laws also appear to be applicable, such as New Hampshireâs which prohibits calls to individuals on the federal Do Not Call registry.
Given the magnitude and seriousness of these charges, we ask that you immediately investigate and take action to protect the integrity of our electoral process and hold the culpable parties responsible.
John Conyers, Jr.