Indiana Settles Democrat Robocall Case in Midst of 'Women of 99%' Scandal

Indiana Settles Democrat Robocall Case in Midst of 'Women of 99%' Scandal

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office settled a robocall case last week with a Las Vegas company accused of unlawfully calling more than 270,000 Indiana phone numbers for Democratic candidates who were running for office in 2011.

“We received some complaints against the campaigns, and so we reached out to them and made an inquiry about the calls, and two of the campaigns informed us–independent of each other–that Stones Phone had done the calls for them,” a top Indiana prosecutor told in an exclusive telephone interview.

Marguerite Sweeney, Deputy Attorney General for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and Section Chief of the Telephone Privacy Section, said that the company may still operate within the state if they comply with the law, but it faces heavy penalties now if they do not.

“Our robocalls statute permits the calls that are made where a live operator asks permission to play the recorded message, or if you have prior permission to make the call, or if you had people opt in to receive the calls in advance,” she said. “A court can award up to $5,000 per violation. We could have filed suit in court and asked the court for an injunction and the fines of $5,000 per violation.”

The settlement comes in the wake of the emerging ‘Women of 99%’ illegal robocall scandal that is being investigated by The scandal entails several million Midwestern homes receiving anti-Republican robocalls in at least 23 districts throughout 12 different states. Those districts are also at the top of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) target list.

The calls have been widely viewed as a violation of federal election and telecommunications laws, and deep speculation is brewing that a sophisticated political operation with impressive financing is the culprit. Inquiries have already confirmed that the group allegedly making the calls – ‘The Women of 99%’ — does not exist.

According to Sweeney, most robocall companies operate out of state and can actually obtain voter data lists easily:

“I don’t know of two many companies that are in Indiana that do this. I wouldn’t say there aren’t any, but it seems most of the telemarketers we receive complaints about from callers on the do not call list are usually out of state entities.”

“There are vendors that get this data; you can buy lists of data. There are companies out there…there is someone who will supply a list I’m sure. Their calls may not violate another state’s statutes, but it certainly violates ours.”

In this case, the Nevada-based Campaign Communications Solutions, also known as Stones’ Phones, allegedly made thousands of “unwarranted automated calls to constituents which resulted in an aggressive investigation,” according to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Zoeller has reported that the majority of the robocalls-at least 215,000 of them-were made for candidate Melinda Kennedy, a Democratic mayoral candidate who lost to Republican incumbent Greg Ballad, who still presides over Indianapolis.

There were other calls made on behalf of other Democratic candidates as well.

The calls were made at a time when Indiana was enjoined from enforcing the Autodialer Act, but Attorney General Zoeller insisted that did not immunize the perpetrators from possible prosecution. 

Although the current settlement did not require the company to pay fines, they will have to pay an agreed $5,000 per violation in the future if they make any calls without a live operator in violation of the law.


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