Did you get another robo-call?

On Saturday, April 16th, Sussex County residents got a prerecorded "robo-call" from the campaign of David Gray and Kathleen Gorman, candidates for Sussex County Freeholder.  The message originated from Philadelphia (zip code 19120) and callers to the originating telephone number got this message:

Prior to this -- on Monday, January 25th -- Sussex County residents got a prerecorded "robo-call" asking residents to attend a meeting of the Sussex County Freeholder Board and oppose the investigation of the Sussex solar bailout.  This message also originated from Philadelphia (zip code 19120) and callers to the originating telephone number got this message:

The solar scam artists who ripped-off Sussex County and their allies have made killing this independent investigation their top priority.  First they tried blocking it. Then they tried intimidating the Freeholder Board.  Now it appears they are trying to replace the Board with allies of Freeholder Richard Vohden, who has arguedfor spending millions on the bailout and against an investigation on how those millions were misspent.

The reason Sussex County needs a county investigation is simple.  The solar scam cost $88 million.  Sussex taxpayers are on the hook for $24 million and another $10 million for the bailout. 

It is not the job of the federal and state law enforcement agencies investigating the solar scam to protect the interests of Sussex County.  The federal authorities will try to claw back the federal money involved in the scam.  Who is looking out for Sussex County taxpayers?

That's where an independent county investigation comes in.  It is a fact-finding mission to build a case to get some of those millions back through civil action. 

The FBI and State Attorney General's office are looking for criminal indictments.  That may punish those responsible, but it won't get our money back.  That is why the investment in an independent county investigation is money well spent.

Whoever paid for the call to block the investigation does not appear to have 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 on January 25th 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 an innocent party.  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. 

The Federal Communication Commission expanded Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations in June of last year.  Stay tuned...