The Republican National Committee (RNC) paid to generate about 11,000 phone calls to the congressional offices of nearly three dozen House Democrats in an effort to jam their phone lines and cut off access to the lawmakers as their inquiry into President Trump intensifies, The New York Times reported Monday.
The effort was part of an attempt to influence public opinion around the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and clog the representatives’ phone lines, affecting access to the lawmakers, two people briefed on the effort told the Times.
The plan was reportedly discussed by RNC officials at an event with more than a dozen GOP aides, advisers and officials, called the “Off the Record” dinner, the sources told the Times.
The officials indicated the calls were automated and that the goal was to tie up the Democrats’ phone lines.
According to the Times:
Asked about the calls, Republican committee officials said they were not prerecorded “robocalls.” The officials said the committee used a vendor to survey voters. Those voters who said they opposed the impeachment inquiry were given the option of being connected to their congressional representative’s office, the officials said.
“Our supporters are incredibly fired up to help us fight this impeachment charade,” Mike Reed, an RNC spokesman, told the Times. “Our ‘stop the madness’ campaign has helped hundreds of thousands of voters get the information they need to reach out to their Democrat representatives and tell them to drop the phony impeachment inquiry and get back to work for the American people.”
The Times noted that campaign finance lawyers were split on whether “it was proper for the Republican committee to generate calls on impeachment to congressional offices. Some said that targeting Democratic lawmakers at their offices appeared to be an attempt to limit the ability of a government office to communicate. And they raised questions about whether targeting congressional offices would be considered an improper use of campaign resources by the Republican National Committee.”