A Republican-leaning advertising firm in Northern Virginia is the culprit behind the string of vitriol-laden text messages that hit voters’ phones Tuesday night, blasting President Barack Obama with anti-gay attacks and false claims.
CCAdvertising is the firm that had been accused on Halloween last year of a similar anti-Democratic stunt in several Virginia races, including one involving Republican state Senate candidate Jason Flanary.
Flanary lost to Democratic state Sen. David W. Marsden.
A Jason Flanary is listed as the technical contact in the newly revealed registrations, and Flanary is the chief operating officer of ccAdvertising, according to his bio posted by the Fairfax, Va., chamber of commerce.
The firm and related companies have also been linked to similar incidents of political text spamming elsewhere.
Flanary was not immediately available to discuss the latest stunt, his office said.
The coordinated campaign of cell phone text mail or text messages was full of anti-gay rhetoric and bogus charges against the president. One Virginia voter received a message from the address [email protected] that made the inflammatory claim: “Obama supports homosexuality and its radical social agenda. Say No to Obama on Nov 6!”
Mike Madden tweeted one from [email protected] that declared, “Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk.”
Attorney Pater Saharko tweeted that he got a message from the same address that read: “Obama is using your tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood and abortion. Is that right?”
New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman tweeted that his 13-year-old daughter also received a text. “Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong,” said the message from [email protected]
HuffPost’s Sam Stein also got a message, declaring, “Seniors cant afford to have 4 more years of Obama budget cuts to Medicare.”
The Federal Communications Commission bans unsolicited text messages, but political operatives use a loophole by sending unsolicited emails to people’s phones. The telephone companies interpret them as text messages and send them along. They also charge the recipient for the unwanted message if the receiver does not have a text messaging plan.
Scott Goodstein, a progressive online strategist with the group Revolution Messaging, said something needs to be done about the problem.
“It costs consumers money,” he said, “and it is disinformation.”