Settlement reached in New Hampshire's push poll case

Bryan Cohen Jan. 19, 2012, 1:29pm


CONCORD, N.H. (Legal Newsline) - New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delany announced a settlement on Wednesday with OnMessage Inc. resolving allegations of push polling.

The company will pay the state $15,000 under the terms of a settlement agreement. OnMessage was allegedly hired by the 2010 Guinta for Congress campaign and allegedly wrote a push poll script used in 400 calls that were made to state residents in September 2010.

The script, written by OnMessage, failed to disclose the telephone number used to conduct the push poll, which is a violation of New Hampshire law. The script also did not inform the call recipients of the name of the candidate on whose behalf the push polling was being made. Instead, the script contained instructions to disclose the name of the candidate only if a citizen of New Hampshire affirmatively asked for that information at a certain point near the end of the phone call.

"An essential element of our democracy is vigilant enforcement of New Hampshire's election laws," Delaney said. "My office will continue to vigorously investigate election related complaints, and initiate civil or criminal enforcement actions against those who violate New Hampshire's election laws."

Under state law, a person placing a push poll phone call must disclose the phone number being used and the candidate's name at some point during a push poll call regardless of whether the recipient of the call ever requests such information.

Push polling is legal in New Hampshire, but any person who engages the push polling must include specific information at some point during the call. The information must include, "That the telephone call is being made on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to a particular candidate for public office, (the identity of) that candidate by name and (the provision of) a telephone number from where the push polling is conducted."

OnMessage cooperated with Delany's office in the case.

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