On Friday, June 24th, about 17,000 Turlock residents received a robocall with a message claiming Councilwoman Mary Jackson is spending millions of tax payers’ dollars and using government agencies on a witch hunt to find an anonymous person who hurt her feelings. The call gave out Jackson’s cell phone number and urged people to call her to stop doing all this.
The robocall stated the message was paid for by Tony Dane, activist against injustice. The call was indirectly connected to robocalls made during Turlock elections in 2008.
The robocalls made to Turlock residents in 2008 may have been the cause of a lawsuit against the State of California and the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) by a political consultant, Tony Dane, who operates out of Las Vegas.
During the November 4, 2008 election, three robocalls were sent out to Turlock residents.
The first call was suggesting Mary Jackson was a special interest candidate and that she basically catered to these groups. The call was stated it was paid for by Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods based out of San Juan Capistrano. This group denied funding the call.
The second call was stating support for Amy Bublak and Kurt Vander Weide and claimed to be paid for by Taxpayers for Safe Neighborhoods. There is no such organization registered on the California Secretary of State’s website.
The third call was an automated recorded call impersonating Mary Jackson as she supposedly was campaigning for NO on Prop. 8 by asking people to support a “rich, vibrant community that includes everyone, irregardless of whom they choose to love.”
After the robocalls were made, Turlock Mayor John Lazar Mayor offered a $1,000 reward out of his own pocket toward finding out who was behind the three illegal “robocalls” made during the November 4, 2008 election. 2008 Turlock City Council Candidate David Fransen and Dr. Rob and Kristen Santos matched the $1,000 reward; while Jim and Pat Shade, Ed Brault, Michael Rose, and Marie Assali each donated $500 toward the total $5,000 reward.
“People are sick and tired of these dirty campaign tactics,” Mayor Lazar said. “We’ve never had them in Turlock, at least in city politics."
Turlock City Hall heard complaints about the calls during the election and the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) was contacted. There are many laws regarding campaigning for public office and being in public office. The FPPC governs and enforces these political laws. It was expected that an investigation was to be conducted by the FPPC here in Turlock.
After then Council Candidate Mary Jackson won the election, she filed a FPPC complaint and on January 23, 2009 Councilwoman Mary Jackson filed a civil lawsuit against 1-100 unnamed persons with the Stanislaus Superior Court of California seeking less than $10,000 for what is listed and best described as business tort/unfair business practice.
Mary Jackson’s lawsuit was scheduled for a court date in October of 2010 but it ultimately was dismissed before then. While the lawsuit was dismissed, a FPPC investigation has continued.
That FPPC investigation believes the calls were illegal and has led to inquiries from Tony Dane’s business, AutomatedCalling.
Tony Dane has emails from Beatrice Moore, an investigator for the FPPC, wanting to know client information or asking for a client list from his company.
Dane states that the FPPC has yet to tell him what law was broken, and if no law was broken, he shouldn’t turn over any of his client information as he may lose business from FPPC inquiries.
While the FPPC has subpoenaed his bank records from a California branch of his Nevada bank, Tony Dane obtained a temporary restraining order from the Federal Court to bar the California FPPC from obtaining his bank records which would ultimately be a complete client list.
Dane said that this is illegal and an abuse of power, and that no law has been identified as being broken from the FPPC. Dane also believes this in unconstitutional and is violating his rights.
Dane claims that the FPPC already contacted one of his clients that made calls into Turlock around the same time of the 2008 Presidential election time robocalls under investigation. The client was HucPac, 2008 Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee’s political action committee. Dane said that as a result of the inquiry, HucPac will no longer do business with him or return his calls. Dane stated that the client was a $1,000,000 per year client.
“If these people are stupid enough to think that I’m going to lose a million dollar account and say ‘oh well,’ they’re crazy,” Dane said during a phone interview.
“I’m going after this organization, my goal is to shut this organization down because they’re a waste of tax dollars,” Dane stated. “And the Governor needs to wake up and realize his state is broke and cut out these worthless organizations that do nothing but protect people who are in office, and harass people who will go after people who are in office.”
“So I’m going set an example of Mary Jackson, who I don’t know, I don’t care to know, and have no qualms with; but because she’s whining about this, it is going to be my mission in life to make sure when she’s up for election next time that she’s not reelected,“ said Dane. “So I can show the California (un)Fair Practices that when you go after somebody, there are repercussions.”
“What suffers here, is not the hurt feelings of Mary Jackson, but it’s the first amendment rights of the citizens of Turlock, and the State of California,” stated Dane. “When it comes to first amendment rights, the State has none.”
“Mary Jackson made a big mistake with pushing this because now she’s got me mad,” said Dane. “She needs to be the poster child for freedom of speech, and what happens when you try to violate people’s right to freedom of speech.”
Dane stated that he sent out calls to 17,000 Turlock residents, with an estimated market value of about $750.
“The fact is, that if someone runs for political office, you’ll have some people that will support you and some people that will not support you. After you win, most smart politicians, which she does not fit in the category of, do their best to amend fences,” stated Dane. “But she’s too stupid to do that.”
Tony Dane stated that people are curious to know what is going on as he has received well over 100 phone messages, all of which he plans on returning the calls to explain.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson’s cell phone voice mail box has been full since shortly after the Friday evening call.
Despite Tony Dane wanting Mary Jackson to stop pushing an investigation into who made that robocalls, Councilwoman Mary Jackson will not be intimidated from finding out and prosecuting those involved.
“From the beginning, I clearly stated, I will not be intimidated from completing and prosecuting anyone and everyone involved in the robocall investigation,” stated Jackson. “They clearly must feel threatened by the legal process… Dirty politics do not belong in Turlock or any other community."
"This matter involves an ongoing investigation which I trust will be concluded soon. Like cockroaches, these individuals continue to work in the darkness and they will do anything to stay out of the light,” said Jackson. “I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to discuss this any further, all communication should be directed to the FPPC.”
Beatrice Moore, of the FPPC, said that she could not comment on anything at this time.
Ted Howze, the former Turlock City Councilman whom the FPPC found Dane’s name on an old 2006 campaign financial statement, says that he the FPPC has not contacted him about the 2008 Robocalls and that he was unaware of Mr. Dane’s pending suit against the FPPC until contacted by TurlockCityNews.com last week.
Howze confirmed that he used AutomatedDialing.com in 2004 and 2006 for 2nd party firefighter support phone calls and was pleased with the services, so much so that he has recommended Mr. Dane’s company to other local political candidates.