Law fails to stop robocalls - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Law fails to stop robocalls

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Tom Walker/Eyewitness News

Washington - Many Hoosiers hate unsolicited phone calls, including the automated, so-called 'robocalls'. But a tough state law against them has failed to stop a major interest group from dialing out a politically-charged message this week.

It was just a day before Indiana voters went to the polls. Reports surfaced that Barack Obama was the target of robocalls by an anti-abortion group.

A barely audible recording of the robocall has been circulating on the internet:

"If you vote in the Democratic primary, please do not vote for Barack Obama. Thank you."

This election year, robocalls for and against the candidates have blanketed the country, but what is raising eyebrows is the fact that in Indiana, such calls are illegal.

"Indiana has one of the strictest robocalling laws in the country," said Shaun Dakin, Stoppoliticalcalls.org.

Robocall critics like Shaun Dakin have praised Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter for making enforcement a priority.

"Not only is it strict, because there are some other states that have strict robocalling laws as well, it has been upheld, and it has been enforced," said Dakin.

The phone calls were paid for by one of the largest anti-abortion groups in the country, the National Right to Life, which sponsors the annual March for Life in Washington. It has declined our request for comment. But Obama's defenders are not happy.

"I hope that all of these third-party groups, particularly those that no one knows who they are, things like that, we will try to stop in Indiana," said Joe Andrew, a superdelegate from Indiana who declared his support for Obama this week.

When it comes to robocalls, the Indiana Attorney General's office says it acts on complaints from citizens, and so far in this case, none has been filed. The state's robocall law has been challenged by those who argue it violates rights to free speech.

Carter insisted, "We intend to enforce the law, we'll pursue evidence of violations."

But some suspect those who launched this week's robocalls considered it a risk worth taking.

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