Suit: Romney backers robocalled cellphones

Feb. 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM
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DENVER, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A lawsuit seeking class-action status in Colorado accused a non-profit of making illegal robocalls on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Marlo Edholm filed suit in U.S. District Court in Denver Monday against Americans for Responsible Leadership, a non-profit based in Arizona, claiming the group placed at least five illegal robocalls to her cellphone, ABC News reported Thursday.

The lawsuit said the calls violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unsolicited robocalls to cellphones, which may cost the recipient money for minutes used.

"The annoyance is getting calls that you haven't asked to receive and you're getting charged for them," said Joseph Mellon, attorney for Edholm.

In January, ProPublica said it obtained Americans for Responsible Leadership's application to the IRS for tax-exempt status. The application said the group would not "spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any federal, state or local public office or to an office in a political organization."

ABC News said several calls to the people who registered Americans for Responsible Leadership with the IRS weren't returned.

The Federal Communications Commission published an advisory Sept. 11 to remind campaigns and consumers that pre-recorded voice messages and auto-dialed calls to cellphones or other mobile devices are prohibited, ABC News said. The only exceptions are if the calls are for an emergency or made with prior consent.

Mellon said he believes groups representing either party may have used robocalling to campaign during the last election.

He said he hoped to learn how many robocalls were made to cellphones during the discovery process.

If the court finds Americans for Responsible Leadership conducted illegal robocalls, the lawsuit said Edholm and other members of the proposed class "are entitled to statutory damages" of $500 for each unlawful robocall and an injunction barring the organization from "similar conduct in the future."

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