We Have A Winner in the Negative Campaigning Sweepstakes

May 20, 2014 9:26 am

by Jon Richards · 12 comments

It’s a question that’s asked every election: How low can the negative campaigning go? We think we have found this cycle’s winner, at least as far as the Georgia primaries go. The Political Insider has the story, but subscribers to the Peach Pundit Daily saw this in today’s edition (You do subscribe, don’t you?)

Robocall Shenanigans, Jim Galloway reports on an exceptionally late and exceptionally dirty hit via robocall. The victim was Bert Reeves, who was the “beneficiary” of a phony-sounding endorsement from Global Action for Trans Equality, a group that doesn’t normally take any interest in Republican primaries for State House seats in Georgia. There is no evidence that his opponent, State Rep. Charles Gregory, sent the call, but he would probably fail the cui bono test if one could be applied. If anyone wonders why the Republican party has a problem attracting new and younger members in Georgia, it’s because dirty politics like this might still work. Thanks a lot, “Liberty” movement.

Gregory denies responsibility for the call.

Most of what we call negative campaigning takes a candidate’s own words and amplifies them to remind voters of the misstep, or takes a statement by the candidate and repeats it out of context to make it seem like something it’s not. This is the tactic used by the Senate candidates attacking David Perdue for his statement to the Macon Telegraph about revenue increases. We also saw it in this negative mailer from the American Jobs Council attacking First District candidate Bob Johnson for his inopportune comments about the Transportation Security Agency.

The other form of negative campaigning takes inconvenient facts about a candidate and amplifies them for the recipient. That’s what we saw in the mailer slamming State Senator Don Balfour for possible ethics violations, or in this mailer, which targets First District candidate Buddy Carter for alleged ethics violations and tax payment issues.

These types of negative hit pieces are a time honored tradition in political campaigns. But, when a robocall apparently makes up facts out of whole cloth, it, and the person who had it sent out should be condemned.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs. Adam Kornstein May 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

Senate #42 ought to get an honorable mention no?

NoTeabagging May 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I nominate this for the worst rebuttal to a nasty robocall.
From Elena Parent’s Facebook Campaign page.
“Some people in the neighborhood got a recorded call from an unknown source today, This call, which was not from my campaign or anyone affiliated with my campaign, was the height of dirty politics. It implied that voters should vote for me because I am not gay and my opponent is.

Let me be perfectly clear: this is not a reason to vote for me. it is not a reason to vote against my opponent. If you are voting for me for that reason, please, stay home tomorrow. Your views are not representative of my district or any place I want to live.

I sponsored a bill against this type of discrimination in the workplace and I am pro-marriage equality. I will fight on behalf of the LGBT community in the Senate.

Discrimination, whether based on gender, race, or sexuality, is wrong. I am committed to fighting for equality.”

While she say she does not condone such views, she went to say voters believing this should not show up at the polls. She says these voters should stay home and forfeit their right to vote for other offices. Good intentions gone really bad.

dsean May 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

What’s with the dig on the Liberty movement? Seems pretty out of the blue.

greencracker May 20, 2014 at 10:41 am

I also don’t get the Liberty dig. I don’t see any mainline Republicans making fun of trans people for their own personal benefit … but I don’t see that it’s erm, a common pine tree caucus tactic either ….? Seems like a one-off?

Buzz Brockway May 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

For clarification purposes only: No, the pine tree caucus (I wear the Appeal to Heaven pin regularly) wouldn’t do something like this. Also, Moore and Gregory are not part of the pine tree caucus. Nathan Adams, a leader of the so-called liberty movement, threaten to primary me and several other folks who wear the ATH pin. He and many others in the so-called liberty movement do not consider us “friendlies.” We’re all just various shades of RINO.

Will Durant May 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm

At least he didn’t threaten to Obama™ you.

greencracker May 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm

One time, one thousand years ago when Taxed Enuff Already was new, I did a story attempting to sort out the difference between tea party, Tea Party, libertarians, Libertarians, Liberty!!1! and Republicans.

It didn’t end well for me. now there’s a pine tree caucus too. geez.

Will Durant May 20, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I seriously doubt that we will ever know who is behind the Reeves/Gregory robocall but it is doubtful that either candidate or the trans* group was actually behind it. I battled robo fax solicitations for a major company back in the day of actual fax machines wasting toner and paper times 10,000 machines times 20 or so solicitations per day. Absolutely no cooperation was obtained from the FCC or FTC even though this was prior to VOIP and we were obtaining the sender’s physical addresses. In this day in age the robocalls can be done on the cheap and practically anonymously if you know what you are doing.

NoTeabagging May 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Yes, Will. Several tactics are used by the worst robocall offenders.

Using auto dialed, auto delivered messages without prior permission is against most TCPA rules. Although political callers think they are exempt from every rule.

Hiding Caller ID. Most people have caller ID. Does anyone really answer a no name, no number call?

Spoofing Caller ID – to another name or false number. Calls may look to be out of state,
This means in-state calls are avoiding identification or some local political callers are using an out of state service instead of supporting a local business.

Not leaving a using callback number. Calling back a number from caller ID many times results in hearing a “this number has been disconnected” message. Translation – Candidates do not want to hear back from you.

Not identifying the caller or sponsoring organization.
Failure to register in-state Autodialing, auto delivery equipment with the Georgia PSC as required by law. No person or organization is exempt.

Will Durant May 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Anecdotal evidence on the Reeves/Gregory calls show a caller ID in Seattle, but again with some bouncing through Voice Over IP accounts it is pretty easy to make those numbers untraceable. I’m curious to know how effective any robocalls are as even when I had a land line it would have just been a case of their machine talking to my machine for my deletion after a 2-3 second review. I doubt the pollsters would tell us as they are still so reliant on IVR for their own data.

Mrs. Adam Kornstein May 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm

It’s called a “burner phone”. In the case of SS#42 the number wasn’t registered to anyone currently.

What does it accomplish at this point to even know where it came from. The bigger question is where do you get such a targeted group of phone numbers at this late hour? That’s the $10,000 question.

Doug Grammer May 21, 2014 at 9:29 am

I’d bet this stunt cost Rep. Gregory the election.