Soon after 110,000 households in Sacramento received a robocall Sunday afternoon from a political group extolling the benefits of a new downtown arena, the campaigns seeking to force a vote on the arena project called foul.
Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal both charged that the calls were illegal, violating a state code that prohibits automated calls to homes that aren’t introduced by a live voice.
As it turns out, the calls were perfectly legal.
Pro-arena group Downtownarena.org used a vendor based in Nevada to make the calls, taking advantage of a loophole in the law that permits that practice.
STOP and Voters for a Fair Arena Deal are still upset with the calls; both groups are collecting signatures in an attempt to qualify a measure for the June ballot to require voter approval of subsidies for sports facilities. In a press release, the Voters group said Downtownarena.org is using an “intimidation campaign” to block the vote.
STOP spokesman John Hyde said the robocalls, “while possibly not illegal, certainly violate the spirit of the law and are only legal because they were made outside of California.”
Downtownarena.org defended the calls, which told voters they could sign forms provided by the group if they want their names removed from petitions they signed in support of the ballot measure.
“After months of hassling citizens with their signature gatherers paid for by special interests who want to rob our city of jobs, arena opponents are falsely questioning an attempt for citizens to rescind their signatures,” said Josh Wood, a leader of the Downtownarena.org campaign. “We’re committed to aggressively fight their efforts and make Sacramento residents aware of their right to withdraw their name from the STOP petition.”