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Mysterious Anti-Obama Spam Texts Linked To Republican Consulting Group

Oct 31, 2012
Originally published on October 31, 2012 6:53 pm

If you're using social media to follow the presidential campaign or even if you're related to someone else who's doing that, there's a good chance your cellphone got spammed Tuesday night with an anti-Obama text message.

The messages went out between 7:30 and 10 p.m. They were anonymous but quickly traced to a Republican consulting firm in Northern Virginia.

The messages appeared to be targeted mostly at cellphones from the Washington, D.C., 202 area code. But some were also sent to area codes outside the Beltway, including one to a St. Louis number and another to a private email address.

Some of the messages slam President Obama on the usual issues.
For instance, "re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk" read one text. Another sent out the message, "Obama Lied About Libya – What else could he be lying about?"

But many others, the ones dealing with same-sex marriage and abortion, had a sharper edge: "Obama supports homosexuality and its radical agenda" and "if re-elected Obama will use taxpayer money to fund abortion."

The websites sending these messages have names like GOP messagers and Democrat Liars.

Federal law generally prohibits the sending of political robocalls and robo-texts to cellphones. But those provisions don't address emails that are sent to cellphones as text messages.

The sites were registered at the Web hosting company Go Daddy.com. On Wednesday, Go Daddy suspended them.

Nick Fuller, a spokesman for Go Daddy, says its terms of service are clear cut.

"When a customer uses a domain name registered thru Go Daddy to participate in activities such as spamming via email or text messaging, instant messages, pop-ups, that's not something that we tolerate," Fuller says.

It appears that all of the websites related to the text messages were registered by employees of a Republican consulting firm, ccAdvertising of Centreville, Va.

The firm's website brags about its ability to reach cellphones.

It says its clients have included McDonald's; Starbucks; Grover Norquist's anti-tax advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform; and GOP politician Ken Cuccinelli, now Virginia's attorney general.

In an email conversation with NPR, ccAdvertising's president, Gabriel Joseph, wouldn't address the messages sent last night. He said the firm has always scrupulously complied with the law.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

There are technically rules meant to prevent a crafty bit of political messaging that went out last night. An anti-Obama text message from an anonymous source spammed countless cell phones between 7:30 and 10 p.m. Eastern.

As NPR's Peter Overby reports, the messages were quickly traced to a Republican consulting firm in Northern Virginia.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The messages appear to be targeted mostly at cell phones from the Washington, D.C., 202 area code. Some of the messages slam President Obama on the usual issues. For instance: Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk, and: Obama lied about Libya. What else could he be lying about?

But many others, the ones dealing with same-sex marriage and abortion had a sharper edge: Obama supports homosexuality and its radical agenda, and: If re-elected, Obama will use taxpayer money to fund abortion. The websites sending these messages have names like GOP messagers and Democrat liars. They were registered at the Web hosting company godaddy.com. And today, Go Daddy suspended them. Nick Fuller, a spokesman for Go Daddy, says its terms of service are clear cut.

NICK FULLER: When a customer uses a domain name registered through Go Daddy to participate in activities such as spamming via email or text messaging, instant messages, pop-ups, that's not something that we tolerate.

OVERBY: It appears that all of the websites here were registered by employees of a Republican consulting firm CC Advertising of Centreville, Virginia. The firm's website brags about its ability to reach cell phones. It says its clients have included McDonald's, Starbucks, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and GOP politician Ken Cuccinelli, now Virginia's attorney general.

Federal law generally prohibits the sending of political robocalls and robotexts to cell phones. But those provisions don't address emails that are sent to cell phones as text messages.

In an email conversation today with NPR, CC Advertising's president, Gabriel Joseph, wouldn't address the messages sent last night. He said the firm has always scrupulously complied with the law. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.