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Automated call controversy hits Nevada Question 1

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October 29, 2010

CARSON CITY, Nevada: Earlier this week Stones' Phones Inc., a company hired to program automated calls in support of Question 1, called an estimated 50,000 Nevadans between midnight and 1:15 a.m. The firm and the campaign group apologized for the incorrectly programmed calls. The company issued a follow-up call in the afternoon to residents in apology. The call included a phone number and email to lodge complaints.[1]

Nevada Judicial Appointment Amendment, Question 1 calls for the creation of a selection panel that would review and recommend candidates to the governor for appointment to open judicial seats.

The calls featured retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, however, following the mis-timed calls O'Connor released a statement saying she did not authorize the use of her comments for the automated calls. She said, "I did not authorize the use of my recorded statement as part of automated telephone calls to Nevada residents, and I regret that the statement was used in this way." O'Connor has been an active supporter of Question 1.[2]

According to reports, on the call she said, "When you enter a court the last thing Nevadans want to worry about is whether the judge is more accountable to a campaign contributor or to a special interest group than to the law."[3]

In response to O'Connor's support of the measure, some argue that it is a violation of the judicial code of conduct. Conservative legal groups have expressed their concern regarding her activity. In response O'Connor said, "In addition, I view my efforts in support of judicial reform as consistent with the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges."[4][5]

According to reports, the state of Nevada does not have rules or laws that govern when candidates or political committees can make calls to voters. Nevada voters, however, do have the option to add their name to a "do not call" list but it can't be guaranteed, according to state officials, that they won't be contacted.[6]