Two and a half months before the D.C. group Women's Voices Women Vote began making illegal, anonymous robo-calls to voters in North Carolina, they had promised to stop the practice nationally, after being investigated by state police in Virginia.
As The Virginian-Pilot reported:
State Police, working with the State Board of Elections, began an investigation after more than a dozen reports from residents across the state saying they had received unsolicited phone calls Wednesday and Thursday about registering to vote. [...]
"The messages did not specify who or where the packets were coming from," [police spokeswoman Corrinne] Geller said. [...]
By Friday, however, investigators obtained some of the packets and tracked them to the source.
Women's Voices Women Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, made the calls and sent the mailings, Geller said.
The group said it is part of an "unprecedented" effort to register women. Trouble was, it was largely unheard of. The calls to potential voters started even before the effort was announced. [...]
Sarah Johnson, communications director for the organization , said Friday that not including information about the source of the voter registration effort was "absolutely an accidental omission."
She said the group was changing its nationwide phone alerts to make clear who is coordinating the effort.
It was 11 weeks later -- over two and a half months -- that Women's Voices began blanketing North Carolina with anonymous robo-calls from a fictitious caller named "Lamont Williams." As a tape recording of the North Carolina calls show, the calls in no way identify their source. Recipients of the calls tell Facing South that the phone number of the caller was also blocked.
Yesterday, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper confirmed that the Women's Voices robo-calls were illegal because of the lack of identifying information, and left open the possibility of criminal sanctions against the group.
Did Women's Voices lie to the Virginia State Police when they promised to stop making anonymous robo-calls? Or were the illegal, anonymous calls in North Carolina just another "accidental omission?"