Did July Robocall Targeting Harford County Politicians Violate Telephone Consumer Protection Act?

Did a July robocall targeting elected officials in Harford County violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act? The answer depends on which Harford County Republican you ask.

By way of background, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a press release in May of last year, hailing a court judgment against Julius Henson and associates for an Election Day call to suppress voter turnout in 2010. Cited in the AG’s release is the following line referencing the Henson robocall and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA):

“Absent from the message was the name and address or phone number of the party that initiated the call, which violates the TCPA.”

Now here’s the text of a July 28 robocall targeting Harford County Delegates Wayne Norman and Donna Stifler, from a pro-life advocacy group formed in March:

“Hi, this is Diane Hussey calling from the Maryland Pro Life Alliance with important pro-life news. Our representatives in Annapolis, Delegate Wayne Norman and Delegate Donna Sifler are not standing up for the unborn and we need to change that. Last year 17 Republicans in the House of Delegates sponsored legislation that would have ended late term abortions after 20 weeks in Maryland. Delegate Norman and Delegate Stifler were not among them. Norman and Stifler need to give us answers as to why they failed to sponsor, or at least co-sponsor, this important lifesaving legislation. Please press 1 now to directly connect with Delegates Norman and Stifler to ask them why they failed to sponsor the Pain-Capable, Unborn Child Protection Act.

Ask them why 17 other Republicans made the right decision and they did not. We need energetic, conservative representation in our elected officials. We need our delegates, Wayne Norman and Donna Stifler to be on the front lines protecting the unborn. The law that Norman and Stifler failed to sponsor is the same pro-life law passed recently in Texas and we need legislators in District 35 who won’t be missing in action when important pro-life issues come up in Annapolis. Please press 1 now to hold Wayne Norman and Donna Stifler accountable on pro-life principals. Tell them to lead in protecting the unborn, not follow, or in their case, be absent altogether. Let them know that we don’t want absent minded leadership on the vital issue of protecting life. This message was paid for by the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance. For more information please go to mdprolife.com. That’s mdprolife.com. Please sign our online petition in support of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and learn how you can get more involved with the pro-life movement in Maryland. You can also email us at dianeh@mdprolife.com. Thank you for your time.”

Del. Wayne Norman, a Bel Air attorney, said Thursday that the call “appears to violate” the TCPA because it fails to provide the sender’s street address or phone number, citing the AG statement above. Anyone without computer access, especially his older constituents, would be hard pressed to find Ms. Hussey or the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance, he said.

Norman, a pro-life Republican, also objected to the content of the call, saying he never saw the bill in question. “I’m being attacked for doing something I wasn’t aware of, nor was I asked to participate in the bill – it’s nonsensical,” he said.

The Maryland House Republican Caucus issued a press release earlier in the week calling the calls illegal and saying that Norman and Stifler both earned A ratings from the nationally recognized Maryland Right to Life. The release also quotes Norman saying he was “disgusted and appalled by the unethical and illegal tactics used by the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance”, although he didn’t say at the time which law he believed was violated.

Patrick McGrady, founder of the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance and a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee said Friday that he believed the call was legal. “I’m pretty sure we’ve complied with all laws,” he said, charging that Norman was pursing legal action in order to “silence the grassroots”.

Responding the Maryland House Republican Caucus’ press release, the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance fired back with an August 1 email, which appears below.

Asked about his attack on fellow Republicans in light of his membership on the Harford County Republican Central Committee, McGrady said the call was not an attack, and he was simply following the committee’s bylaws in holding elected officials to the party’s pro-life platform.

Kim Wagner, McGrady’s fellow Central Committee member, disagrees. She said Friday that the moves by the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance followed a pattern of some Republicans targeting fellow Republicans for not being Republican enough. “There’s no compromise,” she said. Furthermore, the job of the Central Committee includes supporting and working closely with Republican elected officials, she said: “As a leader and lifelong Republican I cannot condone this behavior. This is not open, honest dialogue between candidates in a primary. They’re taking potshots at elected officials.”

For now, Del. Norman hasn’t decided whether to settle the question of the robocall’s legality in court, but one thing’s for sure: The air at the next gathering of Harford County Republicans will be chilly, no matter the weather.

Below is the Maryland Pro-Life Alliance response to the press release from the Maryland House Republican Caucus:

Comments

  1. WTF? says

    Ms. Mumby,
    Why would you source Kim Wagner for comment? She contributes exactly zero to the Republican Party and is not in a position of leadership on the Committee. I am sure you would have received the same answer from Derek Howell or Teresa Reilly, but at least they both hold positions of authority. And a “chilly gathering” of Republicans wouldn’t be anything new. Have you BEEN to a Central Committee meeting? You have two sets of people there, both of which have no respect for the other: people who do work and believe in things and people who shill for elected officials and think the purpose of their position is to be a part of a beer-drinking social club.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7
    • Real republican says

      wtf?: GROW UP! Having been an active repub for the past 20 years, i’m just about done with you vitriolic, childish, wingnuts in our party. Kim has given so much time and effort over the years, mostly by trying to mend the fences that you cultists destroy. How about you lunatics think about someone other than yourself and instead of trying to rally a small base to build your own power; try to participate in a common ground discussion so that we can constructively work together and silence the socialist, class-warfare, anti-accountability, fear-mongering racists on the democrat side.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10
      • Don Pablo says

        Nice rant Impy. It is funny to watch the Delegates, and they love to be addressed as Delegate, and their mouth pieces get all bent out of shape when the Delegate is asked to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Time for these Delegates with their sense of entitlement to put some rubber on the road.

        Who’s the real wingnut? People who are all talk and can put out a good sales pitch to collect votes and then disappear once elected, or the person that put their beliefs into action? The more this story is in the public discussion the worse it will be for the Delegates in question. They should stop giving it life, pardon the pun.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3
  2. Curious says

    After reading the text of the robo-call, it is clear that Norman’s over the top description of it’s contents could only come from the mouth of a lawyer. As far as his claims of it being illegal, all I can say is that it is no wonder he did not want to disclose the facts in his press release. The call was clearly not intended to deceive or hide where it was coming from. Shame on you Delegate Norman.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6
  3. says

    I contacted Ms. Wagner for this story because she is a past chairman and vice-chairman of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, in addition to being a current member. She has also been an active Republican in Harford County for over 20 years.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11
      • Kim Wagner says

        Operative word in this sentence is PAST. It applies to the vice-chairman position as well in this sentence
        “she is a past chairman and vice-chairman of the Harford County Republican Central Committee”

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
        • Big George says

          So you are now the official spokesdrone???? Drone on babe ( and I mean that in most generous sense of the word)….

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  4. Life? says

    I’m disappointed that the thrust of this article are the calls, and not that Wayne Norman has failed to stand for Life by sponsoring the legislation here– stopping the killing of babies who can feel pain.

    Stifler was out sick during the session, but where was Wayne? How does a legislator get a 100% from the Maryland Right to Life if they aren’t leading the way on laws that save babies?

    It looks like Maryland Right to Life is too comfortable losing every battle for 20+ years. That’s unfortunate.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8
    • Justice says

      Check the facts. It has all been explained. You are either uninformed or a C4L puppet.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 10
  5. Liberty Lover says

    Why don’t Norman and Stifler just tell us why they didn’t join their fellow republicans on this bill?? It’s a fair question. Instead all I hear is their threats – it’s quite the turn-off.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3
    • Wiki says

      Norman and Stifler can’t pound the facts so they are left pounding the table in a red faced temper tantrum. Easy.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
      • Justice says

        Full explanations have been provided. Backtrack and inform yourself.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6
  6. BullElephant says

    You have to wonder why Wayne Norman is so upset about this. Could be something to do with a tidbit I heard that former Councilman/GOP Chairman Mike Geppi may be making a run for that new Senate seat since Glassman is moving on. I believe that Geppi and his friends on the central committee made Norman a delegate to begin with. Very interesting indeed.

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  7. Helen Weber says

    People, before criticizing these delegates, should read the Maryland Right to Life letter of support for them. As one who has for years been involved in the pro-life movement, including Operation Rescue, I find it absolutely deplorable that a front group for C4L would use the pro-life movement and the murder of babies to farther their unscrupulous activities. It would not surprise me, after evaluating C4L actions – attacks on good conservatives through lies and misrepresentations, that C4L is being financed and is a front group for an entity aligned, with Progressives, for the purpose of destroying the tea party and its allies.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10
    • full disclosure says

      So Ms. Weber, do you actually read a Harford County blog even though you live in West Chester, PA – or are you directed here by others to try to slander C4L? Sad……

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7
      • Truth Detector says

        C4L is using the bodies of dead babies as steppingstones for their own political and financial benefit, attacking solid pro-life delegates and undermining the pro-life movement in MD. Why didn’t C4L/the MD Pro-Life Alliance ever speak to these delegates and ask them to cosponsor before this bill was filed? And why didn’t they talk to Delegate Parrott or other delegates to find our why these two delegates were not included as cosponsors? Oh that’s right, because that would destroy their fabricated narrative. The legality of the call is a technicality, but Delegates Norman, Stifler, MD Right to Life, and every other pro-life advocate have every right to speak out against the lies that C4L has put out there. So sad that they are so unscrupulous as to use murdered babies as a fundraising and political opportunity.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7
        • Stimpy says

          The bottom line is that if they were as pro-life as they say the would not have needed to be asked to co-sponsor. They would have know about it and done it. So the fact remains why did they not co-sponsor or at least offer the statement of support that was requested? It’s a simple, easy thing to do and requires almost no effort. The time is past for whiny political mea culpas. We don’t need to play Where’s Waldo? with our delegates on important issues.

          Well-loved. Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
          • Truth Detector says

            Because ever delegate knows about all the bills that are going to be filed before they are filed, even if they are not related to the committee they are part of? Now we are expecting psychic powers from our delegates. It is no longer up to the advocates for a bill or the bill’s sponsor to inform delegates of it and ask them to sign onto it. The delegates are just supposed to know about every bill that will be introduced in ever committee. I agree, why didn’t they cosponsor a bill they didn’t know about? And why didn’t they offer a statement of support about a bill they didn’t know about? That is such a logical and intelligent argument. I’m just shocked that Delegate Parrott (the bill’s sponsor) and the MD Right to Life (whom the bill was submitted on behalf of) can’t understand this simple argument.

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  8. Tri State Area says

    Full Disclosure.. here you go again, trying to silence that free speech thing and jumping off of topic. Getting nervous? Are you once again trying to silence those that are exposing your organization for using the precious babies to further your sleazy agenda? Your organization didn’t just trash those in Harford County, they have “awakened the sleeping giant” – word is spilling over into other states and pro-life groups. Too bad you can’t throw people off of here like you do the C4L Facebook Site for disagreeing with you.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8
    • Stimpy says

      Since when did protecting the unborn become a sleazy agenda?? That’s right. When the politician is asked to actually do something instead of belch hot air. Looks like the Cecil Co. TPP trolls are out in force for their newest RINO’s.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • full disclosure says

      And while MD Pro-Life Alliance is pushing politicians to protect the unborn and raising money to help the pro-life cause , your group has done what? Can you name anything that your group has done to help the pro-life cause?

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
      • Truth Detector says

        You have done nothing but use the pro-life movement. Illegitimately attacking pro-life candidates hurts the pro-life cause. Do you really believe that conservatives are going to believe that Delegates Norman and Stifler who have strong pro-life records are actually pro-abortionists in disguise? Especially since reputable pro-life groups and people have discredited these attacks? The Maryland Right to Life organization said it perfectly, “I heard of the recent robocalls attacking each of you for not sponsoring the MDRTL-INITIATED HB1312 last session. As you are surely aware, THE GROUP BEHIND THE ROBOCALLS APPEARS TO BE A NEW FRINGE GROUP operating in Harford County. THEIR VIEWS ARE CERTAINLY DISPUTED BY MDRTL.” I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say “your group”. As an individual, I have done plenty to advance the pro-life cause, not that that’s any of your concern. Your group didn’t even take the time to call delegates and ask them to sponsor this bill. Apparently, you did nothing to drum up support for or inform people of this bill until after it was filed. So I guess your organization is culpable for not working to get support for the bill; using your standards, I guess that would make you a legitimate target for a robocall: “Why didn’t the MD Pro-life Alliance advocate for HB 1312? Why didn’t they bother to ask delegates to sponsor this important bill which would protect life? We need pro-life organizations that are going to work to protect life, not just grandstand from behind a computer. Please call Patrick McGrady at the Maryland Pro -Life Alliance at 410-357-1234 and let him know we need real advocates for the pro-life cause.” Now I can tell you what I haven’t done, and that is manipulate and misinform, for the purpose of using the pro-life cause as a fundraising tool for my own candidacy or that of my friends. That’s despicable.

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        • full disclosure says

          Okay…I’ll answer for you. NOTHING. Your false assertions of Maryland Pro-Life Alliance’s motives can not hide the fact that you and your group have done absolutely nothing to promote the pro-life cause. What’s really despicable is putting your love of access to certain politicians above protecting babies while at the same time working to slander groups and individuals doing God’s work. This is a new low…..even for you. If you believe that the politicians in question here are doing good pro-life work, then by all means feel free to express that belief anywhere and everywhere, but your false allegations go way over the line.

          Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
          • Truth Detector says

            Your actions speak for themselves. You can’t offer any dispute to what I printed. It’s a tough position for you to be in being contradicted and discredited by MD Right to Life and top pro-life advocates in the state. You have greatly discredited yourself with this ordeal. Most folks are not like you, and are not driven by personal political aspirations.

            Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  9. Helen Weber says

    Willick (full disclosure) since you band people from your C4L facebook page (no freedom of speech there) could you tell me where the border line ends for the 1st Amendment? C4L does believe in the 1st Amendment don’t they? When I was actively opposing abortion, I didn’t draw a line at any border.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5
    • Chuckling into my Coffee says

      Oh goodie! Here come the parade of Cecil Patriots, bringing with them their special blend of hate and ostrich-in-the-sand politics. If it walks like an R, and talks like an R, then for goodness sake, don’t pick on it!! Never mind how it votes…

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6
    • Stimpy says

      Helen, in case you didn’t know it’s BANNED not band. Also, FYI it’s lose not loose as in you will lose this one.

      Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2
      • Justice says

        Stimpy, are you an English teacher? Helen gets a “C”. Campaign4Lunacy gets an “F” in Ethics 101.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
  10. Keesha Jackson says

    I’m done with Dundalk Donna. I won’t vote for a Democrat but I will do what I can to get a viable candidate to oppose her in the primary. And my reasoning is not just this issue.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3
    • Constitutional Conservative says

      Your reasoning shouldn’t include this non-issue at all. The misinformation put out by C4L (the MD Pro-Life Alliance) has been debunked.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7
      • Keesha Jackson says

        Constitutional Conservative,

        Love your name. We will see about the misinformation. If you are a supporter of conservative causes then you better start looking for a replacement for Del. Stifler. BTW, you are no more conservative than I am and I hate to oppose a fellow conservative but we have to improve the quality of those who represent us while also defeating the Dem/Lib propaganda machine.

        Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
    • Big George says

      I think the Harford CE said it best when he stated he was embarrassed by the entire Harford Delegation.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3
      • Keesha Jackson says

        Sometimes he embarrasses me and I voted for him. And would do so again depending on who is running against him.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
  11. Bill says

    My friends at Mountain Christian are so embarassed by Ms. Hussey’s lies and then she has nerve to call herself a Christian..McGrady has taken her down the road..

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6
    • Liberty Lover says

      I doubt your pastors at mountain christian would be so excited to be mentioned in a pro-life squabble, lol. I don’t know much about this topic in particular but Miss Diane is a lovely lady, Mr. Christian Man.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
      • Jaguar Judy says

        Liberty Lover,

        No pastor anywhere is excited to get mentioned in a squabble between two groups of toddlers throwing tantrums. None of their actions are very Christian. None of them.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  12. Justice says

    Regardless of legality, the statements made in the robo-call were false. This is typical of the Campaign for Liberty. This is why they are being re-branded as the Campaign for Lunacy.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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