WASHINGTON, D.C. - A slew of anti-President Obama spam text messages have been received through the D.C. Metro area in the past day.
I have confirmed the texts came from domains purchased by Jason Flanary, according to GoDaddy.com. Flanary is a Fairfax County Republican who has previously run for Virginia State Senate, was the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and is still an acting member on the board of directors for the organization.
I was slightly confused Tuesday night when I received a text message that read "VP Biden mocks a fallen Navy Seal during memorial. Our military deserves better". I was even more confused when I looked at who sent the message to me, and realized it wasn't from a phone number, but instead it was from email@example.com.
While I found the SMS to be pretty weird, it got even more bizarre Wednesday morning, when I came into work and discovered that about ten of my co-workers had received similar anti-President Obama SMS messages from different addresses.
Here's a sampling:
- From firstname.lastname@example.org: "Obama was against gay marriage, now he supports it. Tell Obama to stop pandering."
- From email@example.com: "With Obama in charge, your tax dollars will be used to fund Planned Parenthood and abortions."
Our WUSA9 reporters weren't the only ones receiving these texts. After some investigation online, we found several other journalists in our area commenting on the subject.
Jonathan Weisman, a Congressional Report for the New York Times tweeted, "Txt to my 13-yr-old daughter: "Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong" from firstname.lastname@example.org."
Mike Madden of Washington City Paper tweeted, "Just got this random anti-Obama text message from email@example.com" and attached a photo of the message that read "Re-electing Obama outs Medicare at risk."
Furthermore, our Andrea McCarren who is working the story has received a number of tweets and messages from other D.C. Metro residents who have received similar messages.
The Fairfax Chamber issued this statement on Flanary: "Jason Flanary was employed with the Chamber from 2005-2007 in a government relations role, and is not currently a Chamber employee. Jason serves on the Chamber's Board of Directors on behalf of member company ccAdvertising. Political views of Chamber Board members do not reflect the views of the Chamber as a whole, nor do they reflect an official Chamber position. The Fairfax Chamber does not endorse candidates in federal races."
If you received these text messages, please send photos of them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a look at this gallery of text screenshots that our viewers sent in.
"I got a message on both my PERSONAL and my BUSINESS phone," WUSA9 viewer Joyce Kilgore wrote in an e-mail. "I also followed that up by filing a complaint report with the FCC and with my cell phone carriers. HOW DARE HE!"
Our Andrea McCarren worked this story all day today and visited Flanery's Centreville office on Wednesday.
Watch 9NewsNow tonight to see her full report on these texts and where they could be coming from.
He tried to hold the door closed and said,"Sorry. No. No. Sorry." Andrea banged on the door and asked, "Why won't you talk to me?
Ironically, on his own campaign website, Flanary laments how "Too often in politics, campaigns focus on empty slogans and negative attacks."
According to George Mason University political scientist Jeremy Mayer, negative attacks are nothing new in American campaigns. But modern technology has spawned a new era of attacks, under the veil of anonymity
"In 1920, FDR happily passed around rumors that Warren G. Harding was partially black. Back then, that was a scandal," Mayer said. "If we can track this down to a Republican operative, I'm pretty certain that he'll be a rogue operation. This is not a national effort to smear Obama. Moreover, I think the reason national Republicans are not going to do this, is not only ethics, but it's not going to work very much."
When Andrea McCarren went to the main door of Flanary's company ccAdvertising, which bills itself a constituent research and data acquisition firm, the door was locked and the employee who saw 9News grabbed her computer and raced away.
No comment from the Obama campaign. The Romney camp told us "We have nothing to do with these texts."
Many of our viewers tell us they've already reported this to the FCC, whose ban many text messages sent to a mobile phone using an autodialer, unless you gave consent to receive the message or it is sent for emergency purposes. Visit the FCC website here.