Anti-Obama Texts Linked to Virginia Republican

Friday, Nov 2, 2012  |  Updated 4:15 PM EDT
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Anti-Obama Texts Linked to Va. Republican

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A Republican from Fairfax County, Va., has been linked to the unsolicited anti-President Barack Obama text messages sent out Tuesday night.

Daily Kos reported the various domains used to send the texts are hosted by GoDaddy.com and registered to Jason Flanary, who lost his bid for Virginia state senate in 2011 and is the Chief Operation Officer of ccAdvertising, a phone and text messaging vendor.

Several area journalists were among those to receive the texts.

Washington City Paper Editor Mike Madden received one from informedett.com that read “Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk.”

New York Times congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman tweeted that his 13-year-old daughter received one from gopmessage.com reading “Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong.” Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis received the same.

WUSA9’s Simon Landau got one from votersett.com that read "VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better."

Reader Claire Henline sent us a screenshot of a message she received: 

"Hope someone manages to hold the person behind all this spam accountable," she wrote.

Reader James Beavers wrote us: "Mine said, 'Obama will spend more on Planned Parenthood than on your future.' Or words to that effect."

Unsolicited automated text messages are against the law, the FCC has stated. These messages were sent to cell phones as emails, which then appear like text messages but from email addresses instead of phone numbers. Recipients without text messaging plans can be charged for receiving these messages.

According to POLITICO, the messages violated FEC regulations because they didn’t say from where or for whom they were sent.

Whois.com shows that one of the domains – votersett.com – was registered to Jason Flanary, of Centreville, Va., though GoDaddy.com shows it as listed to a G Joseph with a PO Box at a Chantilly Post Office as the address. GoDaddy listed the same name and address for other domains -- aicett.com, gopmessage.com, informedett.com – which Whois listed as registered to Domains By Proxy, GoDaddy’s private domain registration arm.

Daily Kos found a 2006 New York Times article with a Gabriel S. Joseph III named as president of ccAdvertising.

ccAdvertising posted the following statement on its website:

In the more than 12 years since its founding and currently, ccAdvertising has scrupulously complied with all laws and regulations affecting its activities. It appears that statements currently being made about ccAdvertising are largely motivated by partisan political considerations.

Joseph released a statement about the legality of the messages Friday:

“The Federal Election Commission has codified how emails and text messages may be used.  This is an important protection of free speech,” said Mr. Joseph.

“In the more than 12 years since its founding and currently, ccAdvertising has scrupulously complied with all laws and regulations affecting its activities.  It appears that statements currently being made about ccAdvertising may be largely motivated by partisan political considerations.

“With television advertising locked up in battleground states like Ohio, new media technologies can reach voters directly and with great accuracy and consistency,” said Mr. Joseph.  “This is strategic and effective political communication.”

Prior to taking the COO job at ccAdvertising, Flanary was vice president of government relations for the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, according to the chamber’s website.

The chamber released the following statement:

Jason Flanary was employed with the Fairfax Chamber from 2005-2007 in a government relations role, and is not currently a Chamber employee. Jason serves on the Chamber’s Board of Directors on behalf of member company ccAdvertising. Political views of Chamber Board members do not reflect the views of the Chamber as a whole, nor do they reflect an official Chamber position. The Fairfax Chamber does not endorse candidates in federal races.

Flanary was accused of sending unsolicited text messages during his campaign last year, the Post reported.

If you received one of the texts and would like to file a complaint, go to the FCC’s website.

And let us know what the text message said and looked like by emailing us at tips@nbcwashington.com or commenting below.

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