RoboGate: U.S. Rep. Lungren Speaks Out on Illegal Robocalls

RoboGate: U.S. Rep. Lungren Speaks Out on Illegal Robocalls

In an exclusive interview with a Congressional member whose district was recently struck by a series of ‘Women of the 99%’ illegal robocalls, talks to U.S. Representative Dan Lungren from California about the impact the calls are having on his office and his personal life–as well as the history of illegal Democratic robocalls in his district.

The illegal robocalls made to Lungren’s district are part of a national scandal emerging in which unidentified, illegal robocalls are falsely announcing they are calling on behalf of a non-existent PAC known as the ‘Women of the 99%.’

Recently, U.S. Representative Dan Lungren’s Congressional district in California was hit by calls that played a recorded message saying the following:

This is a message from the Women of the 99%. The Rush Limbaugh Republicans are not backing down from their anti-women, anti-family politics. Congressman Dan Lungren wants to give employers the power to deny women access to birth control coverage, and Congressman Lungren refuses to denounce Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attacks against women. Call Congressman Lungren at… and tell him to stop opposing women’s health care rights. We are the Women of the 99% and we will not be silenced.

Q: What kind of reaction has your office received as a result of the illegal ‘Women of the 99%’ robocalls?

A: We had gotten some complaints to our office… some people–believe it or not–think the robocalls were actually coming from our office. They asked to be taken off the list, and we had to explain they weren’t our calls. There was even one person who I ran into back home that said he got one of the calls and he was very upset about it and so he called my office to complain–not to us, but just that someone was making these calls.

Q: Has there been a history of illegal robocalls in your district before this?

A: That’s the thing that’s interesting. This seems to be a set piece by some who were supporting Democratic candidates on the day of the election four years ago. There were calls made at 4:30 in the afternoon in my district–I call them overt suppression calls. They were calls saying that they were part of a news report, and they falsely stated that the Obama campaign had announced they’d won the state of Ohio and Illinois and therefore will win no matter what happens. So, unfortunately, it is a practice that has been engaged in–at least my area–by the other side with no repercussions so far. So I suspect they’re continuing it until someone can determine exactly who’s behind it and action can be taken.

Q: Have you noticed any press coverage in the Northern California area where your district is about this specific issue?

A: No, not at all… just as you found little coverage of what I call those voter suppression calls on the day of the election four years ago–we tried to raise the issue, but I don’t think you can find any coverage of that in the press anywhere.

Q: Why do you think the mainstream media in America is declining to cover this story when the British press over in England is?

A: I think in part it’s because the groups who are doing this are evading investigation, so it hasn’t caught the attention of members of the press, since they can’t identify who’s behind them… it seems to me its pretty clear that it is someone supporting the overall Democratic Party effort. One of the reasons its drawing some attention this time is that it’s happened to more than one or two of us, and it’s those of us who have been treed on the DCCC list.

Q: Some are speculating that the voter data used to make these kinds of mass calls are expensive and therefore must come from the Democratic Party or their former voter databank warehouse, Catalist. What do you think?

A: There are a lot of lists out there that are available. You have to pay a chunk of change for it; you can’t be a fly by night operation, under the law, if you’re an expensive committee. I suspect the DCCC has been busy talking with a number of different groups… I can’t say they directed it, but it seems that this group–whoever they are–has marshaled their resources to help the interests of the Democratic Party against those who have been targeted by the Democratic Party.

Q: How does it feel to be targeted this way personally as someone who would oppose the kind of language Rush Limbaugh used–and even apologized for already? How does it feel to be portrayed as someone who would endorse derogatory language toward women?

A: It’s not accurate at all, particularly after I responded to this issue in a recent townhall meeting. I’ve got a record against offensive language against women, even back when I was Attorney General of California. I don’t care who says it, whether it’s conservatives or liberals or rappers using violent names against women–it’s wrong. I don’t need to create a record against that kind of language being the father of two daughters and the grandfather of four. People who know me know my position on that.

Q: How does it feel as a U.S. Congressman in terms of seeing that your opponents are willing to operate above the law?

A: I understand politics is rough and tumble, but the hidden messages–the sleight of hand, the people who attack but don’t have the courage to identify themselves is offensive, and I would hope we might find a way of identifying these people and holding them… responsible. The best thing we can do is shine the light of public scrutiny, so yes, I’m disappointed the press hasn’t picked up on it. If the public knows about it, and they hear these kinds of things, they will be more inclined to know exactly what’s going on.


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