Is it legal? Phone survey for the LaRock-May campaign without disclaimer

Yesterday I got an automated, pre recorded, survey call on the June 11th republican primary between Joe May and Dave LaRock.   The call consisted of 7 questions, beginning with asking if I was voting in the primary, which candidate I preferred, and then questions about issues important to conservatives, including Life and taxes.  I answered the questions by pushing buttons on the phone.  After answering all the questions, the caller thanked me and hung up.  They did not say who had produced the survey.

Since receiving the call I have learned that the LaRock campaign did not produce the call nor do they know who did.  It did not come from any group associated with the LaRock campaign.  I have spoken with a number of people in the 33rd district who received the call, but no one knows who produced and paid for the calls.  Since the calls did not come from the LaRock campaign, can we assume that it came from Joe May’s campaign, or a group associated with the May campaign?

My questions are:

1. Is it legal to do a survey like this without a disclaimer, without revealing who paid for the survey?  Without a phone number or address?

2. Anyone know who produced the survey?

3. Who has access to the results?

4. Must the results be made public, since there was no acknowledgement of who produced and paid for the survey?  (I’ve heard various things regarding the use of the results.)

Inquiring minds want to know and any help is appreciated!



8 thoughts on “Is it legal? Phone survey for the LaRock-May campaign without disclaimer

  1. The legality depends upon the circumstances. If the caller is an unpaid volunteer I don’t believe the telephone solicitation law applies. Here is the definition of “campaign telephone calls” and what the requirements are.

    Va. Code Sec. 24.2-955.1: “Campaign telephone calls” means a series of telephone calls, electronic or otherwise, made (i) to 25 or more telephone numbers in the Commonwealth, (ii) during the 180 days before a general or special election or during the 90 days before a primary or other political party nominating event, (iii) conveying or soliciting information relating to any candidate or political party participating in the election, primary or other nominating event, and (iv) under an agreement to compensate the telephone callers.

    Va. Code § 24.2-959. Requirements for campaign telephone calls sponsored by a candidate or candidate campaign committee.

    It shall be unlawful for any candidate or candidate campaign committee to make campaign telephone calls without disclosing, before the conclusion of each telephone call, information to identify the candidate or candidate campaign committee who has authorized and is paying for the calls unless such call is terminated prematurely by means beyond the maker’s control.

  2. Thank you! It definitely went out to more than 25 people, and it was within the 90 day time frame.
    Are you saying that it would be legal as long as the person making the recording was a volunteer? It wasn’t a cheap survey so it’s hard to believe that any person volunteered to record it and to compile the results. But I suppose it’s possible. If it is possible, I wonder why more campaigns don’t enlist volunteers to conduct these surveys.

  3. My reading of the statute is that there is no disclosure requirement if there is no contract to compensate the actual callers in cases of live calls or compensate the person who is setting up the robocalling in case of recorded calls. With a recorded call, the chance that some robocalling company is NOT involved is pretty low.

  4. Hmmmm, interesting. I know that the May campaign is not using automated surveying. My hypothesis is that it is probably an outside pollster.

    1. Why would an outside pollster do it? Who is paying them? Are you saying that the May campaign is using live polling, or no polling at all? Or something else?

    2. Are you serious? That’s like asking why gallup and rassmussen take polls. Outside pollsters conduct surveys all the time. They do it to see what the voters are thinking and why. They take the results they get and generally project a winner. My guess is that someone will release a poll in the next couple of weeks and your questions will be answered.

    3. I have had numerous calls from Gallup, Rassmussen, Quinnipac, the Washington Post, and many other pollsters. They ALWAYS identify themselves. Always. Polls are never done in secret. A legitimate pollster would never, ever, hide their identity. Why would they?

      Do you really think that a serious pollster would randomly choose to cover a republican primary for a delegate seat in Virginia? Considering only about 3,000 people vote in such a primary, it would be a rather limited number of people who would care what the results are. I seriously don’t think it would be worth their time and money to do such a survey but if they did, they would be quick to identify themselves.

      I hope that you are correct and the results are released to the public, but I’m not going to hold my breath because if the May campaign were in any way involved, they’re in legal trouble. If not, and it’s just a random poll by a legitimate pollster they too would be in trouble and roundly criticized for not identifying themselves. It just doesn’t happen. Legitimate pollsters just don’t work that way. Ever.

  5. I love how you just automatically assume it’s Joe May’s campaign who’s making the “illegal” phone calls. I can personally assure you that it’s not Joe May’s campaign that is doing this.
    Also, I have been contacted by small-scale pollsters who don’t identify themselves. Newspaper polls or independent online polls often don’t identify themselves. Also, I’m going to guess that the vote total is going to be higher than 3,000 votes. Regardless of size, you can safely assume that at least one outside pollster is going to be interested in the results. According to a recent Dave LaRock recruitment letter this primary has been listed as the “most-watched primary race in the state.” Obviously somebody is interested.

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