Another attempt to mislead Sussex residents
On Monday, January 25th, Sussex County residents got a prerecorded "robo-call" asking people to attend Wednesday's meeting of the Sussex County Freeholder Board and oppose an investigation of the Sussex solar bailout that has cost county taxpayers millions. The recorded message repeated the argument advanced by Freeholder Richard Vohden -- that the Freeholders should hold off commissioning an independent county investigation until after the status of possible state and federal criminal investigations is determined. Vohden is joined in his opposition to the independent investigation by the corporate vendors, legal counsel, consultants, and political players who made millions off the solar scam.
Now an email has gone out that purports to be from Sussex County Watchdog. It is not from us, although it has gone to some trouble to appear so. The email attacks Freeholder Director George Graham.
To: "Kankles" <Mz.firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2:41:38 PM
Subject: George Graham Alert
According to what we read in the New Jersey Herald, Freeholder Vohden has been feuding with Freeholder Graham, although we are not making assumptions about this particular email. That said, it does appear to have come from the same Florida political consulting firm that was employed by Marie Bilik in her Assembly campaign against Gail Phoebus. Phoebus easily won that race and is now serving as an Assemblywoman and shares a district office with Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblyman Parker Space.
The email sent today closes with this information:
Update My Profile - Unsubscribe
It will be remembered that Freeholder Vohden also feuded with Mrs. Phoebus when she was a member of the Freeholder Board. Vohden demanded that Phoebus vote with him for a bailout of the Sussex solar deal (using up the county's "rainy day" money put away from the sale of the Homestead nursing home). When Phoebus refused to spend more money on top of what had already been wasted, Vohden lashed out at her at Board meetings and endorsed her opponent, Marie Bilik. Vohden even made a commercial for Bilik and appeared in it with her.
Bilik paid Gravis Marketing nearly $20,000 for its services, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Regarding the robocall that went out on Monday, January 25th. Unfortunately for whoever paid for that call, they appear to have not followed the law under which robo-calls are permitted.
First, "the prerecorded message must truthfully disclose who is responsible for the call and the telemarketing-related purpose of the call."
Second, "the prerecorded message must disclose a call-back telephone number which would allow the recipient to call back within normal business hours and make an opt-out request."
The prerecorded message sent into the homes of Sussex County residents did not abide by these legal rules. In fact, it could be argued that the call was deliberately misleading and made it appear to come from the County Clerk's office. A prosecutor would have to determine if the robo-call was an attempt by those who paid for the call to hide their identity and to impersonate an innocent party. In 2009, the State Attorney General brought a successful prosecution against a similar incident in Bergen County.
In any case, there is enough to warrant action by the Federal Communication Commission under the expanded Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations that came into force in June of last year. So look for this issue to figure in the Freeholder races in both Sussex and Morris counties.
If you would like to add your name to those reporting this robo-call to state and federal authorities, please contact Watchdog at: email@example.com