Despite setbacks, a shadowy conservative group isn’t backing off its bid to undermine state restrictions on political robocalls, as it gears up to unleash a barrage of such calls in 2010 races.
In October, as we reported, the American Future Fund Political Action (AFFPA) argued in a brief to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that state laws restricting robocalls are pre-empted by a more lenient federal law. AFFPA informed the FEC that it planned to make such calls in Congressional races this fall.
Some state laws put a significant crimp in the ability of robocallers to operate. For instance, a Minnesota law requires the listener to actively consent to hearing a recorded message before the message can be played — a requirement that makes conducting such calls all but cost prohibitive.
In response to AFFPA’s bid, several state attorneys general urged the FEC to uphold the state-level restrictions. The FEC subsequently issued two draft opinions that largely did so.
But AFFPA wasn’t to be deterred. This week, its lawyers submitted a followup brief, examined by TPMmuckraker, which argues that the FEC’s draft opinions “represent a fundamental break with the Commission’s past approach to preemption questions,” and “abandon over 30 years of precedent.”
In other words: please please tell us we don’t have to abide by these state laws.
AFFPA has ties to the high-powered GOP operatives behind a range of dirty tricks over the years. The group’s legal brief to FEC was drawn up by Jason Torchinsky, one of the architects of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). That was the bogus “voting-rights” group that was set up by GOP operatives in 2005 to “give ‘think tank’ academic cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem in elections,” as election law expert Rick Hasen has written.
AFFPA also has ties to DCI Group, the notorious Republican consulting firm that has represented the Burmese junta and helped create “Smokers Rights” groups on behalf of RJ Reynolds.