O’Scanlon Bill Increases Penalties For Phoney Robocalls

Wake voters up with a 4am robocall purporting to be your political opponents and you could go to jail for 3-5 years if legislation proposed by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon becomes law.

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon

O’Scanlon and his colleague, Assemblyman Scott Rumana of Wayne, have proposed amending the “Fair Campaign Practices Act,” to provide that no person can direct, order or assist another person to produce, transmit or disseminate any communication that purports to originate from the campaign of a candidate for public office but is actually for the purpose of impeding the campaign of that candidate.  Such activity would become a third degree crime which calls for a 3 to 5 year prison term and a fine of up to $15,000.

“What we’re talking about here is a form of identity theft. In this case, this measure is needed to prevent identity theft for dirty campaigning,” said Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris. “The purpose of campaigning is to inform voters about a candidate’s background, record and views on the issues so they can make an informed decision when they go to the polls.

“Too often we hear about individuals who attempt to derail a competitor’s campaign by pretending they represent the candidate they are actually trying to smear whether it’s through robo calls or written communications,” he continued. “Such tactics cheapen the process and do a huge disservice to voters.”

“Candidates must be held accountable for their messaging and communications,” explained O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “When a campaign knowingly acts in a deceptive manner or creates false information, they are not only breaching the public’s trust they are creating a terrible precedent for future candidates. We can’t let a few bad apples spoil the bunch, people should have faith in those running for any public office.”

O’Scanlon and Rumana has both been victims of such tactics.

Earlier this month, a 4am robocall went out to GOP primary voters in O’Scanlon’s district which claimed to be from O’Scanlon and his running mates, Senator Joe Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin.  The voice on the call sounds very much like the voice of Dwayne Horner, the campaign manger for the Bayshore Tea Party backed slate of candidates, Leigh-Ann Bellew for Senate and Edna Walsh and Stephen Borochhia for Assembly, who were defeated, 80%-20% by the incumbents.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that they are investigating the June 4 call.  Bayshore Tea Party Group co-founder Bob Gordon called the call “reprehensible,” denied the group’s involvement and said he offered the Prosecutor’s Office his cooperation with the investigation.  Gordon told MMM that neither Bellew nor Horner have answered the group’s inquiries about the call.

A 2009 call into Rumana’s district was prosecuted by the State Attorney General’s office.   Kevin Collins, the campaign consultant responsible for the anti-Rumana call, plead guilty to violating the Fair Campaign Practices Act.  He received one year probation and a $1,000 fine.


Posted: June 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “O’Scanlon Bill Increases Penalties For Phoney Robocalls”

  1. Mark F. said at 11:12 am on June 27th, 2013:

    Now I see why Mr. O’Scanlon was primaried. With all the life and death issues swirling around us in a maelstrom of anarchy, this is what he is focusing on?

    Sir, stop the “Busy Work” bologna and get to real work. Robo-calls are not devastating our beloved Republic, spending us into oblivion or running roughshod all over our God-given rights. Robo-call is a back burner, “B” list issue. Please request a copy from Art, if necessary, of the “A” list and get to work.

  2. Tom Stokes said at 3:19 pm on June 27th, 2013:

    Mark, usually I agree with your comments; but on this I respectfully disagree.

    This issue may not be “earth-shattering”, and has nothing to do with improving our state economy, but it does deal with criminal behavior within the political sphere.

    What was done was wrong, not just because it was a deliberate “dirty trick”, but it also attempted to falsely claim that this was done by one set of political candidates.

    The other, more egregious nature of this is that it again creates an atmosphere where decent people see yet another example of why political involvement is not for them and keeps them from even voting, let alone running for office. Mark, that is very dangerous to our Republic.

    In order for policies to be changed to lead this country in a new direction, we need to increase voter participation especially in seeking elective office.

    And those who would, as an organization, seek to support candidates, need to properly vet the candidates before endosing. An individual’s record, not just their political speeches, is not only fair game for scrutiny, but is an important part of the vetting process.

    Declan, this is an issue which does deserve attention and I commend you for your actions on this. Keep up the good work!

  3. Bob English said at 3:30 pm on June 27th, 2013:

    I’m all for a bill/law as described also. I’d give careful consideration to the language to make sure all bases are covered.

    Should not take a lot of time to write or debate and I’d like to think pass the Legislature without opposition.

  4. I agree with you Mark said at 4:47 pm on June 27th, 2013:

    More legislation to become what is known as the “nanny” state—you have to be kidding me!

    We are the nations highest taxed state; We have one of the worst unemployment rates–and your worried about “robo calls.” Sheesh, your right Mark, this is why politicians get primaried. It’s not about the constituents, it’s about themselves, their friends and family.

  5. life and death issues said at 5:55 pm on June 27th, 2013:

    Life and death issues, like men with blue helmets hiding in the trees. The local TP folks sure do a good job of communicating their message and making sure that only the best people represent them!

  6. Everybody is for said at 9:59 am on June 29th, 2013:

    tough, spirited campaigning – until it happens to them.. I don’t support the anonymous robo call, but, the campaign manager in me gave a measure of respect for the creativity- it sure did put people in crazed,damage- control the whole day.. did they ever learn the source?.. The only thing here is, sometimes, it appears some incumbents become so self- identified with the trappings of being an elected official that, when challenged, they go into panic-mode, act self- righteous, and highly insulted that anyone else would dare to try for their seat- this results in over doing the indignation, spending of way too much money, and campaign- overkill.. Personally feel that Republicans had better get it together soon, communicate better,and stop back-biting and killing off each other, or this county and state are headed back down the Democrat- takeover path.. And, when they take over, they take real good ( much better!) care of their own, wiping out any Republican at any job or board, until it’s an unpenatrable, sea of “blue”!

  7. Barry said at 7:45 am on June 30th, 2013:

    For the phony Constitutional scholars out there, fraud (and purporting to be another campaign in a call is fraud,) is ok but Congress passing laws is some how the end of the republic?

  8. @Everybody said at 12:26 pm on June 30th, 2013:

    The campaign manager in you thought it was creative? You Tea Party people are truly freakin’ delirious. First for thinking that there is any measure of campaign manager in you, and second for thinking that this was somehow creative. Actually it was the opposite of creative. Its amateurism at its highest level. It’s what you do when you’re NOT creative. It’s what you do when you’ve watched too many movies or episodes of the West Wing and THINK you know something about politics or campaigning.

    Btw, amateur campaign manager…I know you guys don’t do nuance very well, but did it escape you that you started your post by needling the incumbents for not reacting well to “tough, spirited campaigning”, then two sentences later whine about the incumbents spending money and campaign overkill…aka “tough, spirited campaigning”?

  9. As usual, said at 1:17 pm on June 30th, 2013:

    so self- righteous and defensive.. Another symptom of the elitism and sense of entitlement to re-election that many fall prey too.. Knew that’d getcha, knew you’d right away personally attack.. That is all that matters these days..Thanks for making the point again.. ps: am not TP, but get their frustrations with those who claim to be for smaller government, freedom and the Constitution- then, RINO it down when they get there, as they protect themselves and their titles to the death, as if no one came before them, and no one dare to succeed them.. It’s a limited playing field, and can be sad when some stay too long, and they become the office, rather than doing the peoples’will for a time, then letting someone else have a shot at it..some free,campaign manager advice for ya: chill, be more self-effacing, look in the mirror, and have a little sense of humor,for once- geesh!