Campaign for Accountability Calls on FCC to Investigate Judicial Crisis Network for Violating Consumer Protection Law
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 8, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate the conservative legal advocacy nonprofit Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending mass robotexts from a misleading number during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Judicial Crisis Network spammed unsuspecting Indiana residents with unwanted automated text messages about a Supreme Court nomination and made it look like these texts were coming from a U.S. Senator’s office. This type of behavior is not only annoying, it’s dishonest and illegal. The FCC needs to investigate the Judicial Crisis Network and other conservative groups that are spamming voters with mass robotexts.”
A July 2018 class action lawsuit filed in Indiana reveals that Judicial Crisis Network was responsible for sending automated text messages to the cell phones of Indiana residents, urging recipients to contact the office of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) about the nomination of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is unclear how many residents received the messages, but the number was significant enough that USA Today published an article about the text message campaign.
The phone number from which the text messages originated misleadingly belonged to the office of Senator Joe Donnelly. As the lawsuit states, “upon calling the number from which the text was received, Senator Donnelly’s Washington D.C. office answered, creating the impression that the text message came from Senator Donnelly’s office.” Additionally, the plaintiffs said that they did not provide their phone numbers to JCN, and the plaintiffs did not consent to receive text messages from the organization.
JCN is not the only advocacy group that appears to have used robotexts to support the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh. As CfA detailed in a previous complaint filed in June 2019, the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) also sent mass robotexts regarding Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, in apparent violation of the TCPA. As part of a preliminary settlement to a July 2018 Florida class action lawsuit regarding those mass robotexts, SBA List was required to set aside more than $1 million to play class claims and $366,000 to pay for administrative costs and attorney’s fees.
The TCPA prohibits any person contacting a cellular telephone number using an automatic dialing system without the recipient’s prior express consent. Based on the allegations in the complaint, Judicial Crisis Network’s conduct clearly violates the TCPA. The FCC can issue warning citations and impose significant fines on repeat violators.
Ms. Huling continued, “Judicial Crisis Network’s illegal use of robotexts is not an isolated incident. The anti-choice movement as a whole appears to be willing to break the law in an effort to influence the make-up of the Court and advance its extreme agenda. The FCC needs to step in, enforce the law, and hold Judicial Crisis Network and other offending organizations accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.