Carl Blackburn's answering machine picked up a curious robocall from the Arizona Republican Party a couple days ago -- and it sounded like the local Catholic church was directly urging voters to vote Republican.
It went like this: "The St. Margaret's Catholic Church, 2435 East McArthur Drive in Tempe. Please make sure to go vote for Vernon Parker for Congress. Jeff Flake for senate and Mitt Romney for president. Thank you. This call paid for by the Arizona Republican Party"
Tim Sifert, a spokesman for the party, says the first portion of the call -- which informed voters of their polling precinct -- is missing.
"Probably the call was placed from the system, it went to the person's voicemail, and our message began to play before the person's voicemail started to record. So they only received part of the message," Sifert explains.
Blackburn, who says he has been a registered Republican for at least 20 years, doesn't buy it. He says every other robocall he's received has dead air between the time the answering machine picks up the call and the recorded call finally kicks in.
"I think it's dirty. They want people to think that St. Mary's wants them to vote for Republicans," the Tempe GOPer tells New Times. "I don't think my party needs to stoop that low."
Church officials say they did not authorize such a call.
"There is no greater privilege than the right to vote in this country, and any attempt to circumvent or besmirch the election process should be considered an assault on the Constitution," says Frank Camacho, a spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. "We are all less because of it."
Robocalls made by Congressman Jeff Flake's senate campaign also came under fire over the weekend.
12 News reporter Brahm Resnik first reported that at least a half-dozen Democrats complained about getting calls informing them to vote at the wrong polling location. They, too, believed the calls were intentionally misleading.
According to various media reports, Flake's campaign is blaming the inaccurate robocalls on voters who haven't updated their registration information and says it received about a dozen calls questioning or complaining about the information provided.
Camacho says the Arizona Democratic Party has contacted the FBI and asked the bureau to investigate Flake's robocalls.
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