Mo. Senate will try again to require disclaimers on political robo-calls

Dec 29, 2011

For the 6th year in a row, a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require the party behind political robo-calls to inform a person who is paying for the call.

Republican state Senator Scott Rupp from the St. Louis area has sponsored the measure this year. He says free speech protections mean political calls cannot be banned the way that some advertising calls can. But he says providing more information is the next-best thing.

"We've had people that get calls at 3 or 4 in the morning that say, 'vote for Tom Jones, he's a great guy,'" Rupp said. "Well, that angers you if you get it at 3 in the morning, but actually that was Tom Jones' opponent that was calling because he wanted to anger you, but you had no idea."

Rupp says the measure usually fares well in the Senate, but runs into opposition in the state House.

"In the past, the way it was written, it could have ensnared some public opinion polling, and we didn't want to do that," he said. "But typically, it seems that there are some handful of people that like to use it, that use it extensively, and that don't want to see any changes to the system."

Rupp's proposal would also allow Missouri residents to add cell phones to the do not call list, and prohibit certain automated calls to the numbers on the list.