The campaign of Pennsylvania Democratic candidate Manan Trivedi accused AICPAC of sending unsolicited text messages in 2010. Mr. Trivedi was defeated by Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach.
Asked whether ccAdvertising had any involvement in sending the messages, company President Gabriel S. Joseph III — also listed in FEC records as AICPAC’s treasurer — said the firm has never engaged in anything that runs afoul of the law.
“Everything that ccAdvertising does is legal, per the law of Virginia and the laws of the land,” he said.
Federal and Virginia laws appear to have loopholes for political text messages.
The Federal Communications Commission’s anti-spam rules that ban unwanted emails sent to wireless devices do not apply to noncommercial messages, such as those of candidates running for public office.
Within Virginia, political text messages do not violate the Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act or Virginia’s Dialing-Announcing Devices statute, said Caroline Gibson, deputy director of communications for Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a Republican.
David Mills, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, disagrees. He wrote in an email that the party “has every reason to believe these text messages are illegal, and we are doing everything we can to determine where they are coming from.”
Scott Goodstein, founder of the progressive consulting firm Revolution Messaging LLC and former external online director for Obama for America, said spam text messages are rarely used by political campaigns because, unlike email spam, they could cost the recipient money.
“Even the worst industry offenders — those who send you bad email spam — don’t even mess around with cellphones,” he said.