Broun's robocalls will keep coming

ATLANTA --- Computerized telephone calls aren't popular with everyone, but don't expect them to stop soon.

Twice a month, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun's office uses a computer to call half the phones in the 10th District to invite whoever answers to participate in a giant conference call. A recording plays to invite those answering to push a button to participate in what's billed as a tele-town hall meeting.

According to the staff of the Athens Republican, as many as 17,000 participate in the average call, and 20 or so get to ask the congressman a question.

"We get a tremendous participation, and most of the feedback that we get -- and by 'most,' I mean upwards of 90 percent -- is incredibly positive," Broun spokesman John Kennedy said.

Dr. Broun considers the calls part of his official duty, using taxpayer funds and his staff to conduct them. Still, campaign-finance reform laws prohibit members of Congress from making them 90 days before an election, such as the July primary.

An exception in the federal do-not-call law allows government calls and those that are political.

A bill in the state Legislature would have required that the calls begin with a live operator asking the person who answers whether to continue or not. The author of the bill, state Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, had speculated that the cost of the operator would make the calls too expensive to continue.

His bill was gutted in the House and is dead for the year.

Dr. Broun's campaign spokesman, Tim Echols, said "robocalls" will be part of the fall effort to win votes.

Most of the candidates angling for Dr. Broun's job have sworn off robocalls.

"Our first campaign pledge ever was no robocalls ever," Republican John Stone said.

Democrat Bobby Saxon also vowed not to use them.

Republican Barry Fleming's staff wouldn't say what its strategy is so far.

CALL U.S. REP. PAUL BROUN

To have your phone number removed from the automated call list, contact Mr. Broun's district office for the Augusta/Evans area at (706) 447-3857.