Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign sent unsolicited text messages to prospective voters in violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a proposed class action claims.
According to the 17-page complaint, Bernie 2020 Inc. “routinely” sent text messages to consumers’ cell phones without first securing prior express written consent to do so. The case claims the texts were sent unlawfully by way of automatic telephone dialing equipment capable of sending messages en masse without human intervention.
The text messages caused the plaintiffs and proposed class members “actual harm, including aggravation, nuisance, and invasion of privacy” of the kind that “necessarily accompanies the receipt of unsolicited text messages,” the lawsuit, filed by two Minnesota residents, alleges.
Per the complaint, the TCPA was enacted by Congress in 1991 in response to a wave of consumer complaints concerning abusive and intrusive telemarketing practices. Among other regulations, the law expressly prohibits the use of automated dialing equipment, or “autodialers,” to call or text a wireless number for non-emergency purposes without consent.
The plaintiffs argue calls or texts pertaining to political campaigns fall squarely under the TCPA’s jurisdiction, particularly if the communications are automatically generated.
“Political campaign-related calls or text messages are not exempt from the TCPA or the FCC’s rules and require the called party’s prior express consent if an autodialer is used to send the messages,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the suit, the plaintiffs received in October 2019 at least one text message each from Bernie 2020 that included a YouTube link and asked if they had seen the presidential hopeful’s latest ad. The case claims the plaintiffs never provided their cell phone numbers to the defendant, have no affiliation with the campaign and never expressly consented to be contacted.
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