Sunday, February 14, 2010

In My Inbox: Chairman Parker Calls Out Young and Zoeller on "Robo-Calls"

On Friday, Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker sent out this e-mail from headquarters. Apparently, even after agreeing not to do it, Todd Young's campaign for Indiana's 9th District Congressional seat is utilizing the robo-calls to try to drum up support. This is against an agreement between the parties as Parker explains here:

Dear Jon,

Just one month ago, I sat down with Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Indiana Republican Party Chair Murray Clark to sign an unprecedented bipartisan treaty that pledged this year would be robo-call free for Hoosiers across this state.

Unfortunately, there is already evidence that this agreement has been broken and a formal complaint has been filed with the Attorney General's office.

Online reports in recent days allege that Ninth District GOP Congressional candidate Todd Young has been using robo-calls in Southern Indiana, touting his campaign and asking Hoosiers to contact him.

(A recording of the phone call in question can be found here.)

If these allegations are true, Mr. Young is not just breaking an agreement between the major political parties of this state -- he's possibly breaking the law.

Robo-calls are illegal in Indiana, and enforcement of that law is the responsibility of Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Zoeller, a Republican who is serving his first term, endorsed Young's candidacy last year, and has since hosted fundraisers for Young.

As of today, both Zoeller and Young have been completely silent on the issue.

Given Attorney General Zoeller's personal involvement in the primary campaign of Todd Young, he owes Hoosiers an answer on why he has not investigated or made a statement on the alleged use of a robo-call.

Earlier today, I placed a call to the Attorney General to request that he fully investigate this matter. I am calling on both Todd Young and Greg Zoeller to clear this matter up for Hoosiers and ensure the law of the land was followed.

These are serious allegations, and they deserve an equally serious response.

As always, I would like to reaffirm the Indiana Democratic Party's opposition to the use of robo-calls in this state. Such tactics have no place in the Hoosier political process.

Democratically Yours,

Daniel J. Parker
State Chair

Here's the Todd Young call that Parker referred to in the e-mail.

Of course, Baron Hill, the incumbent Democrat, is running for re-election, and Mike Sodrel's old bones are back for another shot at Hill if he can fight off Young in the Republican primary.


Anonymous said...

You know that rules are not meant for republicans. They are for the rest of the people. Republicans can do whatever they damn well please. Unfortunately we too often let them get away with it. I hope Chairman Parker stays on this issue. People really do dislike robocalls. said...

Parker's legal authority to enter into a binding agreement regarding the First Amendment protected activites of others= zero. Parker's moral authority to do the same I will leave to others to judge. I doubt it is greater than his legal authority. Parker's understanding of First Amendment issues I leave to others to decide. He's probably relying on the understanding of others. One hopes so since he's neither a constitutional lawyer or scholar. Here's the logic of the "agreement". It is either "legal" or "not legal" to make robocalls. So Parker is either agreeing to not do something that is lawful. What's the point of that? Why does he need an agreement to not do something he can simply choose to not do voluntarily. Or he's agreeing to not "break" the law. Why does he need to agree to not break the law? Isn't that something we all are deemed to have agreed to anyway? Has he been previously breaking it and needs special law enforcement attention? Is this a plea bargain. The agreement plays ever so much like a pr stunt of no legal [and nominal political] consequence. If voters dislike robocalls they will punish those who make them. The recent Supreme Court decision probably trumps the "no robo call" law anyway as these calls would likely be considered political speech.

Paul K. Ogden said...

From the court precedents I've seen, you have to make an exception in the robo-calls for political speech. The calls are protected speech.

It's the same with the no call list - you have to except out political speech. It's the same with "no solicitation" rules that some neighborhoods have - they have to except out poliltical speech. It's the same with neighborhood associations which don't allow yard signs - you have to have an exceptionfor political yard signs.

I think once a robo call case gets to the 7th Circuit, the law as applied to political speech is going to be struck down.

The First Amendment cases are pretty clear