Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018

Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018
© Greg Nash

A watchdog group has accused the Judicial Crisis Network, an organization that supported Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Progressives hope to avoid drug-pricing showdown with Pelosi | 'Medicare for All' backers get high-profile hearing | Dems take victory lap after eliminating drug protections in trade deal Justices grapple with multibillion-dollar ObamaCare case Potential Dem defectors face pressure on impeachment MORE during his confirmation hearings last year, of sending illegal robotexts designed to mislead recipients during the 2018 Senate proceedings.

The Campaign for Accountability said Tuesday that it had filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arguing that the robotexts were "annoying ... dishonest and illegal."

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"A July 2018 class action lawsuit filed in Indiana reveals that Judicial Crisis Network was responsible for sending automated text messages to the cell phones of Indiana residents, urging recipients to contact the office of [now-former] U.S. Senator Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world MORE (D-Ind.) about the nomination of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court," the Campaign for Accountability said.

According to the watchdog, the lawsuit shows that the texts were meant to appear as if they originated from Donnelly's office.

"The phone number from which the text messages originated misleadingly belonged to the office of Senator Joe Donnelly. As the lawsuit states, 'upon calling the number from which the text was received, Senator Donnelly’s Washington D.C. office answered, creating the impression that the text message came from Senator Donnelly’s office.' "

Because plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit argued they did not provide their numbers or consent to the Judicial Crisis Network for contact, the Campaign for Accountability argued that the robotexts were illegal, regardless of their content.

“Judicial Crisis Network’s illegal use of robotexts is not an isolated incident. The anti-choice movement as a whole appears to be willing to break the law in an effort to influence the make-up of the Court and advance its extreme agenda," said Campaign for Accountability counsel Alice Huling in a statement. "The FCC needs to step in, enforce the law, and hold Judicial Crisis Network and other offending organizations accountable."

The Judicial Crisis Network, which has 30 days to respond to Campaign for Accountability's complaint, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate last year in a 50-48 vote following a special hearing where Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault from when they were in high school.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the accusation.