U.S. Rep. John T. Doolittle, R-CA, introduced legislation to let citizens apply the national do-not-call registry to political calls.
H.R. 5325 would create a separate category in the registry for a person to choose whether to opt out of political calls in addition to the business-related calls already covered.
Since Congress established the DNC registry in 2003, the number of unsolicited calls has dropped significantly. However, unsolicited calls from political organizations were exempted by Congress and are not defined as “telemarketing.” The Federal Communications Commission has reported that political calls produce the highest number of complaints.
Rep. Doolittle said in a statement that he was fed up with how frequent and intrusive these political calls have become. The bill treats all political calls the same regardless of whether they originate from members of Congress, candidates for local office or 527 political organizations like MoveOn.org, he said. Calls and an e-mail sent to his office were not returned.
While bills to add political calls to the DNC rules at the state level have been introduced in Connecticut, Indiana and New York in the past year, this is the first such federal bill, said Joseph Sanscrainte, an associate with Bryan Cave LLC, New York.
“A lot of today’s election campaigns rely upon the delivery of political messages via the telephone, and this would hamper the effectiveness of those campaigns,” he said. “The reason he is introducing this bill, and that others have introduced them at the state level, is that they are hearing from consumers that they don’t want to receive these phone calls. The consumers don’t care if the calls are commercial calls, from nonprofits or calls for political purposes.”
Mr. Sanscrainte said he thinks the federal bill has little chance to pass, “for the simple fact that this means of delivering political speech is too important to politicians, and arguably to the political process in the United States.”