The phones were ringing off the hook at Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey’s Ocean Township office after Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso’s July 5th robocall informing 11th legislative district voters of Houghtaling and Downey’s support for Governor Murphy’s massive tax increases and his cuts to school funding for local school districts.
DiMaso’s July 5 robocall:
DiMaso’s call worked better than most robocalls, evidently. The 11th district legislators claim that DiMaso’s call caused them “reputational harm” in complaints they filed with the FCC, the State Attorney General and the NJ Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards, according to a report at NewJerseyGlobe.
Houghtaling and Downey claim that DiMaso “spoofed” their district office phone number. In their letters to the FCC, the State Division of Law and the Ethics Committee, which are published in the NewJerseyGlobe article, the reputationally damaged legislators claim they have a photo of a constituent’s caller ID to prove the claim. The photo was not provided to NJGlobe.
NJGlobe erroneously compared DiMaso’s call to the 4 am robo call in the 2013 13th legislative district Republican primary when Dwayne Horner, the campaign manager for the Tea Party challengers to then Senator Joe Kyrillos, Declan O’Scanlon and Amy Hanlon purported to be calling from the Kyrillos campaign at 4 am and encourage people to get out and vote.
Dwayne Horner’s 4 am dirty trick call on June 4, 2013:
Horner’s call was clearly a “spoof.” Unlike DiMaso’s call where she clearly identified herself, Horner claimed to be calling on behalf of his opponents’ campaign when he woke voters up at 4 am.
DiMaso’s infraction, if there was one, does not rise to that level.
In their letter to the FCC, Houghtaling and Downey claim “upon information and belief” that DiMaso made her call from her legislative office. DiMaso told MMM that she recorded the call from her home.
Despite the Monmouth County Democrats ridiculous claim that that Houghtaling and Downey’s allegations are “serious,” it is very unlikely that there will be legal ramifications for DiMaso who clearly identified herself in her call, stated that the call was paid for the by ironically named Assembly Republican Victory Caucus and recited the phone number for Monmouth Republican Headquarters as the originating number.
If anyone takes a legal hit for the call, and that’s a big if, it will likely be the robocall consultant who programmed the call.
As Houghtaling and Downey said themselves, DiMaso’s call hurt their reputations. They raised 11th district voters taxes and cut funding to many of the district’s schools.
The takeaway is that DiMaso’s call worked. She should do them more often.