October 16, 2020 Press Releases

McSally’s Taxpayer-Funded Robocalls Raise Ethics Questions

Martha McSally’s Taxpayer-Funded Robocalls
Draw Complaints, Raise Ethics Questions

Arizonans started voting last week, and McSally is using taxpayer dollars to cover up her months of inaction on coronavirus relief

Taxpayer-funded unsolicited mass communications are typically prohibited within 60 days of an election, but McSally used a loophole that was established to facilitate COVID-19 updates 

PHOENIX — Days after being called out by the Federal Election Commission for accepting illegal campaign contributions, Martha McSally is again in the hot seat: this time, for — as early voting begins — spending taxpayer dollars on robocalls to Arizonans that one ethics expert says “blurred” lines.

The Daily Beast: McSally Walks Through COVID Loophole to Skirt Robocall Rules

By Sam Brodey, 10/15/20

  • “Less than three weeks before a tough election, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) has used her office’s taxpayer-funded resources to send out a robocall touting a key campaign issue—her work on COVID-19 policy—to Arizonans.”

  • “Normally, mass official communication with constituents so close to an election would be prohibited. But a waiver approved by the Senate Rules Committee in March has made it permissible—if, and only if, the communication is for the purposes of ‘providing updated information about the pandemic, and providing information about the federal government’s response.’”

  • “When the waiver was approved, said Meredith McGehee, executive director of the nonpartisan good-government group Issue One, the idea was to ensure constituents had relevant information for the pandemic.”

  • “‘What you see in the McSally communication is, a kind of a touting of her constituent services, and that’s where the line is pretty blurred,’ McGehee told The Daily Beast. ‘It skates along the edges of whether or not, in the middle of a very hot reelection campaign, she is truly abiding by the purpose of the waiver. It is certainly a legitimate question to ask.’”

  • “To experts like McGehee, McSally’s robocall, even if strictly permissible under the rules, may necessarily be categorized by overwhelmed voters as yet another campaign message in a state that’s currently inundated with them.”

As highlighted by reporting from Phoenix New Times, Arizonans have indeed interpreted McSally’s calls, which they are paying for, as a campaign communication — which resulted in some call recipients “lambasting her on social for issuing unsolicited phone calls from her Senate office touting her accomplishments just weeks before election day.”