Thank goodness Facing South is doing the media's job by digging into the scam and dirt behind the outbreak of robo-calls in recent weeks. Here's the story, from Chris Kromm:
Facing South has confirmed the source of the calls, and the mastermind is Women's Voices Women Vote, a D.C.-based nonprofit which aims to boost voting among "unmarried women voters."
What's more, Facing South has learned that the firestorm Women's Voices has ignited in North Carolina isn't the group's first brush with controversy. Women's Voices' questionable tactics have spawned thousands of voter complaints in at least 11 states and brought harsh condemnation from some election officials for their secrecy, misleading nature and likely violations of election law.
The call is deceptive because the deadline has already passed for mail-in registrations for North Carolina's May 6 primary. Also, many who have received the calls -- like Kevin Farmer in Durham, who made a tape of the call that is available here -- are already registered. The call's suggestion that they're not registered has caused widespread confusion and drawn hundreds of complaints, including many from African-American voters who received the calls.
The calls are also probably illegal. Farmer and others have told Facing South the calls use a blocked phone number and provided no contact information -- a clear violation of North Carolina rules regulating "robo-calls" (N.C. General Statute 163-104(b)(1)c). N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper further stated in a recent memo that the identifying information must be clear enough to allow the recipient to "complain or seek redress" -- something clearly not included in the calls.
Yesterday, I placed a call to the Virginia State Police, which had investigated similar suspicious robo-calls before that Virginia's primaries last February. Their investigation concluded that the source of the calls was Women's Voices Women Vote.
Facing South then contacted Women's Voices, and staffer Sarah Johnson confirmed they were doing similar robo-calls in North Carolina; they later admitted that they were the ones behind the deceptive "Lamont Williams" calls.
Here's the really interesting part:
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.
Damn. People speculated yesterday that Hillary Clinton's campaign might be behind this, and those folks are looking pretty insightful today. And just think, Clinton now as NASCAR Mike Easley to run interference when this blows up over the next couple of days.