Republican Dirty Tricks in Michigan

Here’s a story we reported on at the Michigan Messenger about lies being told to prevent people from signing petitions. In Michigan there are currently petitions being circulated to repeal the Emergency Manager law that so clearly subverts democracy at the local level, to recall Gov. Snyder and to recall about a dozen other Republican legislators. So how does the Michigan GOP handle it? By using robocalls to tell people that if they sign a petition they could be the victims of identity theft. Absolutely repulsive.

19 comments on this post.
  1. Hercules Grytpype Thynne:

    Absolutely repulsive.

    But absolutely not surprising.

  2. Non-Biblical Paul:

    By the time Rick Snyder and the republicans are done with our economy, it wont matter if our identities are stolen or not.

  3. Steve LaBonne:

    Isn’t this sort of thing illegal as well as repulsive?

  4. MikeMa:

    Echoing Steve LaBonne, aren’t the perpetrators of such tactics subject to arrest or at least fines? Are the robocall facilities onshore? Who paid the bill for their services?

    I understand that exposing the tactic may mitigate the intended, immediate result but it probably doesn’t dampen the desire to continue to use such crap tactics in the future.

  5. Abby Normal:

    Last month there was a similar scandal, but in the other direction. A Michigan school district apparently used their robocall alert system, intended to provided information on things like closing, to encourage parents to sign the recall petition.

    Not that this in any way justifies the GOPs actions. But before the right-bashing gets going full swing, I thought it a plank worth mentioning.

  6. M:

    ‘Absolutely Repulsive’ seems to sum up the entire Political Right-Wing since like… at least the seventies, if not earlier.

    Is it really any surprise?

    The right-wing exists to yank ignorant fools about by their easily roused emotions. Make the uneducated backwater people angry or afraid then have them vote against their own interests so that the very richest can plunder the country.

    That’s the right-wing in a nutshell throughout the entire world. The leaders are cynical billionaires manipulating dumb xenophobic prejudiced angry people for their own end.

    And of course said dumb people get more miserable as a result, and then they blame that on some group said people are prejudiced again and they vote right-wing AGAIN. That’s their game.

    And the left is MUCH to nice and compromising towards the right.

  7. Ed Brayton:

    Abby-

    I don’t think those two things are in any way equivalent. The problem here is not the use of robocalls, the problem is that those calls are A) lying and B) essentially threatening people to intimidate them into not acting politically in their own best interests. Making calls that inform someone of a problem and suggest a solution is just fine — that’s what political advocacy is. Making calls that lie to people to prevent them from engaging in political advocacy is an entirely different thing.

  8. dcsohl:

    Furthermore, Abby, that’s a bit of tu quoque, isn’t it? I don’t care what the other side has done. I think that the action you cited (robocalls favoring the petition) is wrong too. Should that really silence anybody’s criticism of the GOP’s action?

  9. D. C. Sessions:

    Absolutely repulsive.

    Disinformation campaigns are a time-honored tactic in warfare, Ed, and politics is just warfare without the uniforms.

  10. D. C. Sessions:

    Echoing Steve LaBonne, aren’t the perpetrators of such tactics subject to arrest or at least fines?

    Not since Citizens United — you can’t jail or fine a corporation that existed for only long enough to run the campaign.

    Who paid the bill for their services?

    A throwaway corporation, unless someone was incredibly stupid.

  11. Abby Normal:

    Ed, they’re not equivalent for another reason too. The GOP used their own privately funded robocall service, while the Democrats used the tax funded school alert system. The message itself wasn’t what was dishonest. Misappropriating the school to promote their political agenda was. So, to my mind, both sides used unethical robocalls to advance their aims. That’s where I see, if not equivalence, similarity.

    But you’re point about the specific reasons the GOP calls are unethical stands. The school calls shouldn’t diminish the GOP’s wrongdoing at all.

  12. Joshua Zelinsky:

    I’m going to have to agree with Abby here. Using public resources for a political agenda is a really bad thing also.

    But this in no way diminishes that intimidating people to not sign a petition is really disgusting behavior.

  13. harold:

    The GOP used their own privately funded robocall service, while the Democrats used the tax funded school alert system. The message itself wasn’t what was dishonest. Misappropriating the school to promote their political agenda was.

    More details please.

    What was the pre-existing policy for use of the school alert system? Was it restricted to use for things like school closures due to weather, or was it used for civic events? Please note that merely informing citizens of an upcoming petition is different from either attempting to influence their action, or using dishonesty to manipulate their reaction. And if there was a reasonable expectation that public opinion might go strongly one way, that doesn’t change this.

    What was the incremental cost of the specific robo-calls via the school alert system, that alerted citizens to the petition?

    This message is not intended to be hostile – I am literally asking for more details.

  14. ArtK:

    C’mon Ed. You know that this wasn’t really the GOP. It was a false-flag operation by ACORN, the only dirty-tricks organization in politics today.

    And yes, I do have a bridge for sale, why do you ask?

  15. Taz:

    Abby Normal – I don’t see anything in that story to link those calls with the Democratic Party. A lot of educators are pissed at Snyder, with good reason.

  16. The Christian Cynic:

    I’m not sure how anyone can read that Education News article that Abby posted and still think that the school district did the right thing. A relevant quote:

    The superintendent of the Lawrence Public Schools, John Overly, is chalking the whole thing up to a combination of a bad mistake and poor judgement. The school alert system is used for special announcements, such as school closings due to snowfall, lock-downs or other school-related information. In such situations, the robocalls go out to “alert” residents of the district about a special circumstance that is taking place. Though it is uncertain without an official investigation, use of the system to advance a political endeavor, such as the Snyder recall, appears to have been a violation of the state’s campaign finance law. [emphasis mine]

    Personally, as a public school teacher who’s no fan of Republicans like Snyder, I can’t condone this kind of behavior. Mentioning the Snyder recall was absolutely inappropriate for a school alert line.

  17. Taz:

    The Christian Cynic – Since you posted your comment directly after mine, I want to make it clear that I agree with you. What the school district did was wrong.

  18. Aquaria:

    I still don’t see how it’s the Democrats who are doing the school robocall. What evidence do you have that the people who called for the recall were Democrats, or much less acting on behalf of the Democratic Party? Are you saying that there are no Republicans or independents who want rid of the guy?

    The school did something wrong but there is ZERO evidence that ties the action to a particular party.

    It’s also a far cry for one organization to do a misguided but honest advocacy of an issue that impacts them than it is to advocate anything dishonestly. The Republicans lied, Abby. No matter what else you think of the other petition, lying is the relevant issue here, not the calls themselves.

    False equivalency on multiple levels.

  19. Abby Normal:

    The link between the robocalls Ed wrote about and the GOP is also tenuous. Yet I didn’t see anyone suggesting it might really be an Democrat or independent trying to torpedo the petition. I’d be surprised if the leadership of either party was directly involved. For both stories we’re making a best guess about which side they’re working for based on whose party benefits.

    All I’m saying is this underhanded trick kind of reminded me of that underhanded trick and both deserve to be called out. So that’s what I did. This isn’t a “the other side does it too, so it’s okay,” argument. It’s an, “everybody who behaves unethically deserves to be called on it,” argument. The two cases don’t have to be exactly equal for the criticism to be deserved.

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