CLEVELAND, OH – It’s the election season in Ohio and you’ve received a “robocall” from a candidate for elected office you’ve never met or given your cellular telephone number. The call violates Title 47 of the United States Code, Section 227 under the heading “Restrictions on use of telephone equipment.” The specific language prohibiting the political robocalls is found at 47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A). There’s a section in the law that authorizes victims of robo calls to sue for $500 per call.
“b)Restrictions on use of automated telephone equipment. (1)Prohibitions. It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States — (A)to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice.”
There’s more to the federal law because it’s lengthy and contains a provision that landline calls are “somewhat” okay. It’s full of details on when and how robocalls can be made that if you received one without giving the candidate or his or her campaign committee written permission you know they’re violating laws.
A smart voter might question the knowledge of a candidate who’s made unsolicited calls or texted them an advertising message as unfit for public office. If they violate laws while campaigning they’ll violate laws in office.
Even “town hall” meetings elected officials are using robocalls to announce are unlawful without the resident’s up front written consent. All elected and appointed jobs require the office holder or public employee to know and discharge only the “written down” duties of a public office. In Ohio the duties of all state and local elected officials are found in the Ohio Revised Code free and online.
Here’s why this is important.
Every candidate seeking elected office in Ohio is going to be administered an “oath of office” pursuant to Section 3.22 of the Ohio Revised Code that in essence is a pledge to enforce our constitutions, obey our laws and to discharge the duties of an elected office as they are spelled out in plain English either in federal, state or local “codes.” Section 3.22 reads as follows and notice the use of the word “shall.” Whenever that word is contained in a law the person or official who it “instructs” has no other choice but to obey the instructions as written without deviation or added interpretation.
“Each person chosen or appointed to an office under the constitution or laws of this state, and each deputy or clerk of such officer, shall take an oath of office before entering upon the discharge of his duties. The failure to take such oath shall not affect his liability or the liability of his sureties.”
The “content” or language of the mandated oath of office is found in Section 3.23 of the Ohio Revised Code.
The oath of office of each judge of a court of record shall be to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, to administer justice without respect to persons, and faithfully and impartially to discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on the person as such judge, according to the best of the person’s ability and understanding. The oath of office of every other officer, deputy, or clerk shall be to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and faithfully to discharge the duties of the office.
A candidate seeking the job of a mayor or a member of council has a special oath of office they’re required to be administered and a place they’re supposed to be filed within 10 days after assuming the “office.” The authority for this mandatory duty is found in Section 705.28 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Every officer of a municipal corporation and every employee holding a position upon an annual salary, before entering upon the duties of his office, shall take and subscribe to an oath or affirmation, which shall be filed and kept in the office of the clerk of the municipal corporation, that he will: (A) Support the constitution of the United States and of this state, and the charter and ordinances of the municipal corporation; (B) Not be influenced by any consideration except that of merit and fitness in the appointment or discharge of employees; (C) Not make or authorize the expenditure of public money otherwise than for adequate consideration and efficient service to the municipal corporation; (D) Faithfully, in all other respects, discharge the duties of his position or office.
I enlarged the words “before entering upon the duties of his office” so this mandatory duty wouldn’t be missed. Any elected official or public employee who started working before they were administered an oath of office didn’t have the authority to work. After 10 days of working without an oath of office the job is “vacated” whether the elected official or public employee worked or not.
Whether elected or appointed public officials are supposed to stop working because they “forfeited” the job by not taking the oath. The vacated office may then be filled in the manner prescribed by law.
The bottom line for the elected jobs candidates are seeking is that they come with either “law enforcement” or “law making” duties and authority. These are the citizens who want the responsibility of defending your constitutional rights and are promising to enforce the laws on the books and those they write that hold you accountable, fairly. while they’re disobeying laws to help their campaigns.
They want to be “in charge” of city hall, a court, a school district, a county, a state or the federal government. No matter the promises they make even as a candidate they’re a public official with a duty to obey federal, state and local laws they can’t alter. And that’s even as a candidate.
The robocall you received is the candidate disregarding and altering Title 47, Section 227 of the United States Code because you didn’t give them your cell phone number and written or “opt in” permission to make a prerecorded call. Keep in mind the entire “oath” conversation where candidates and elected officials “shall” swear to act constitutionally and lawfully. The call is evidence of a federal crime for which they’re supposed to be held accountable.
Since the offenders are often candidates for federal office, like Congress, voters can easily see why the nation’s 435 federal law makers made the offense civil instead of giving themselves jail time.
So when you receive the robo call you have to ask yourself if this fledgling law breaker is who you want on your court, as a prosecutor, a mayor, a member of council or Congress overseeing your income tax dollar expenditures or protecting your constitutional rights? Is a law breaker the right person to oversee a police department?
Last year Ohio Attorney General David Yost launched a robocall hotline and created an enforcement unit to try and enforce the law against spamming and scamming violators. The Ohioans with cell phones and land lines among the 11.7 million inhabitants of our state were hit with over 2.2 billion calls in 2019. That’s 18.8 calls per person, annually, and we all know the estimate is inaccurate.
Pissed off Ohio residents can text ROBO to 888111 and answer a few questions. They can file an online complaint at ohioprojects.org or by calling 800-282-0515.
If you get a call confront the candidate about their robocalling publicly at campaign forums. Call their campaign office. Ask them to stop on their social media pages.
The single most difficult problem we have in government is elected officials enforcing laws against “the people” while excusing the crimes they and their relatives, friends and supporters commit to get them elected or to benefit themselves and each other after they’re elected.