Local Politics

Bill Would Hang Up on Political 'Robo Calls'

Posted March 21, 2007 1:00 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2007 6:54 p.m. EDT

— Prerecorded political telemarketing messages would be blocked for people on the state's Do Not Call Registry under a proposal being considered by state lawmakers.

Senate Bill 1002, which was introduced Wednesday, would bar political candidates and parties from making so-called "robo calls" to state residents who have placed their numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

The state already bans commercial robo calls unless the call is first introduced by a live person asking if the resident is willing to listen to the recorded message.

"It irritates me when I get calls," said state Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, who sponsored the bill at the urging of Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Political consultant Brad Crone has used the calls for clients in the past. Close to elections, however, he said he thinks they can do more harm than good for candidates.

"I understand how absolutely aggravating they can be," Crone said. "When it first started, it was pretty innovative. It was new and unique. It's none of those at this point."

Rand, the Senate majority leader, admitted that he has used robo calls in past campaigns, but agreed the novelty of the tactic has worn off.

"I wonder if the viability of it isn't gone anyway, and people should have a right to be left alone," he said.

The proposed ban would have to be approved by lawmakers who use the calls, and some opponents have questioned whether it would infringe on free political speech.

Rand dismissed that argument.

"This speech is not free. This is paid for, and there's some question about that," he said.