Anti-gay and anti-Obama text messages flooded hundreds of phones Oct. 30, the apparent work of a Republican-leaning communications firm which refuted any wrongdoing in the incident.
The messages were linked on Oct. 31 to ccAdvertising, a Centreville, Va.-based communications firm. GoDaddy.com, which publicly identified the firm as being responsible for the messages, suspended them for “spam and abuse,” according to Politico.
The texts included messages such as: “Voting for Obama means voting for same-sex marriage”; “Obama stole $716 Billion in Medicare. We can’t trust Obama to protect our seniors”; “Obama is using your tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood and abortions. Is that right”; “VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better”; and “Obama supports transgender marriage in America. Obamas [sic] values are just wrong.”
The text messages violated federal elections law as they did not contain any reference to their origins, but took advantage of a loophole in spamming and autodialing laws by being sent to phones via e-mail rather than other phones.
According to Politico, ccAdvertising and its CEO, Gabriel Joseph III, have been involved in questionable propaganda on behalf of conservatives in the past. Last Halloween, the company was involved in a similar anti-Democratic stunt in several Virginia races, including one involving Republican state Senate candidate Jason Flanary.
Joseph was unavailable for comment. A man answering the phone at ccAdvertising referred Politico to a statement on the company’s website, saying that “is all you’re going to get.”
“In the more than 12 years since its founding and currently, ccAdvertising has scrupulously complied with all laws and regulations affecting its activities,” the unsigned statement read. “It appears that statements currently being made about ccAdvertising are largely motivated by partisan political considerations.”
ccAdvertising is among those targeted in a petition to the Federal Communications Commission filed by Washington, D.C.-based mobile communications firm Revolution Messaging earlier this year. The petition asks the agency to declare Internet-to-phone text messaging to be a form of autodialing; the tactic is not currently covered under the Technology Consumer Protection Act.
“They [ccAdvertising] have sent millions of unauthorized text messages from untraceable Internet sites that are false and misleading,” Scott Goodstein, founder of Revolution Messaging and the external online director for the Obama 2008 campaign, told Politico. “While ccAdvertising has claimed many things over the years—from new secret-sauce technology to even the First Amendment—what they are not doing is opting people into these text programs or paying people for the spam they are knowingly putting on their phones. This technology is not e-mail. It uses a person’s cell number without their permission and cost users money.”