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Lawmakers question robocalls opposing Idaho health exchange

Dan Popkey
March 16, 2013
Idaho Statesman

Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, and six other lawmakers have asked for an inquiry into possible violations of the Idaho Telephone Solicitation Act by opponents of Gov. Butch Otter's health insurance exchange bill. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office is reviewing the request.

Horman said she received about 120 computer-generated calls on her unlisted cellphone and office phone that failed to include legally required disclosures, including the identity of the initiator of the call and contact information for the caller.

The calls were made March 9 and Tuesday, Horman said.

Tea Party Boise President Chad Inman said Tuesday the calls were made on behalf of Gem State Tea Party, an umbrella group uniting 13 Idaho Tea Party groups. The calls urged citizens to call their representatives to oppose Otter's House Bill 248, which passed the House on Wednesday. By pressing "1" on their phones, recipients could be transferred directly to lawmakers.

Courts may impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation. Brett DeLange, who heads Wasden's Consumer Protection Division, said Friday that his office will follow up on the request.

"We'll have to see what the attorney general says," Inman said Friday. "I would think any legislator would want the opinion of their constituents. If they don't want to hear from their constituents why would they run in the first place?"

Horman said she drafted the letter before Inman's comments were published Wednesday. She also said she hopes to work with Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and House Speaker Scott Bedke on possible amendments to Idaho' Sunshine Law requiring disclosure of such lobbying. Ysursa and Bedke have both expressed concerns about gaps in the law.

The other signatories to Horman's letter are GOP Reps. Brandon Hixon of Caldwell, Luke Malek of Coeur d'Alene, Steve Miller of Fairfield, Kelley Packer of McCammon and Julie VanOrden of Pingree, and Democrat Caroline Meline of Pocatello.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

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