PIERRE, SD — Recipients of a telemarketing phone call aimed at pushing for Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s impeachment say the call did not offer a disclaimer.
Calls from Grand Solutions Inc., an Ohio-based political telemarketing firm, were directed to voters of state lawmakers who are members of the “Select Committee of Inquiry,” tasked with reviewing Ravnsborg’s impeachment.
Jonathan Patrea, who identifies himself as a spokesperson for Angel Kane of Grand Solutions, previously told reporters that the recipients of the phone calls would have heard a disclaimer, identifying the customer who paid for the calls.
However, calls by reporters to 57 call recipients yielded no confirmation of Patrea’s account of how the calls went.
Further, in several minutes of voicemail messages left by Grand Solutions on callers’ phones, at no time was a disclaimer read to callers on the other line.
Patrea, an Ohio resident who is a senior partner at Ascendant Public Policy Group according to his LinkedIn, told reporters Tuesday he stood by his previous claim that the disclaimers were part of the phone calls.
There are federal and state laws associated with requiring a disclaimer on communications paid for by political organizations. According to SDCL 12-27-15, “Any printed material or communication made, purchased, paid for, or authorized by a candidate or political committee that disseminates information regarding a candidate, public office holder, voting matter, or political party must prominently display or clearly state: “Paid for by (name of candidate or political committee)”.
At the federal level, the Federal Elections Commission (CEF) states that “if the candidate or candidate’s campaign authorizes and funds a communication (including any solicitation) requiring disclaimer, the notice must state that the communication was paid for by authorized commission.
An accidental voicemail recording of Angel Kane obtained by Dakota News Now / KOTA Territory News appears to involve Governor Kristi Noem in helping orchestrate the campaign. However, Noem and his campaign vehemently denied having anything to do with the calls. Patrea also said that no “politician, political campaign, political party or organization” was involved in facilitating the telemarketing campaign.
Members of the impeachment committee on Monday asked a federal or non-law enforcement agency to investigate the origins of the calls. The committee also formally requested “that Ravnsborg recuse itself from any such investigation”.
“Having answered 24 of those calls myself, I always knew they had no disclaimer,” said House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham), a member of the impeachment committee. “This is just one more reason why we have serious concerns about the nature of these calls, and we intend to investigate their origins further.”
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