Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s campaign paid an Illinois man $7,500 after he accused the Democrat lawmaker of violating federal robocalling laws.
Jorge Rojas filed his lawsuit in October 2022 against Pelosi, her campaign committee “Nancy Pelosi for Congress,” and ActBlue LLC for repeatedly sending unsolicited fundraising texts, the complaint states (pdf).
Rojas received the payment of $7,500 marked “settlement” from Pelosi’s congressional campaign in February, according to federal campaign finance disclosures that were made public on April 14 (pdf).
Rojas claimed he received 21 texts from Pelosi’s campaign between November 2021 and July 2022, even though he had previously placed himself on the Do Not Call Registry in 2008 to “obtain solitude from invasive and harassing telemarketing calls,” according to the documents.
In one of the initial texts that Rojas received, the campaign says, “It’s Nancy Pelosi. I don’t usually send you texts this long, but this is dire. Three reports just revealed Dems’ Majority is in critical danger. I need you to read my entire message, then rush $13 before tonight’s End of Month Deadline to keep Republicans from EVER holding power again,” according to the documents.
Rojas “experienced frustration, annoyance, irritation, and a sense that his privacy has been invaded” when receiving the invasive messages, the complaint states.
Other fundraising texts Rojas received included one capitalizing on the retirement of a list of Republicans, including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Richard Shelby of Alabama, according to the documents.
Rojas requested $1,500 for each text received—a total of $31,500—which violated his rights and were “malicious, intentional, reckless, and had negligent disregard” for his privacy, “with the purpose of harassing” Rojas, the lawsuit states.
Rojas dropped the lawsuit in February, two months before the settlement payment was disclosed.
Political candidates can easily contact voters through their campaigns with direct messages via email, text, and robocalls during election seasons.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prohibits telemarketers from contacting individuals who have placed themselves on the Do Not Call Registry. This also includes text messages, but the law does not apply to political calls and messages.
Many states allow political campaigns to access voter registration records, which makes it difficult for voters to avoid constant political campaign messages.
Voters are also contacted by political campaign offices based on data collected from third-party “data brokers,” such as those mentioned in a 2022 OpenSecrets report. These data points include income, age, history of donating, religion, and other factors.
Rules for Political Campaign Communications
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has requirements that all political candidates and their campaigns must follow when communicating with voters.
“Political campaign-related auto-dialed or prerecorded voice calls, including auto-dialed live calls, auto-dialed texts, and prerecorded voice messages, are prohibited to cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without the called party’s prior express consent,” the FCC states.
When contacting voters, campaigns must identify themselves to the voter.
“The identity of the business, individual, or other entity initiating the call must be clearly stated at the beginning of the prerecorded message, the entity’s official business name must be stated clearly at the beginning of the message. … The telephone number of the calling party must be provided, either during or after the message,” the FCC states.
When it comes to sending text messages to cellphones, political campaigns only need prior consent from the recipient if the campaign is using auto-dialing technology. If the messages are sent manually, consent is not necessary.