Yes she was (and she still is so don’t let her fool ya!)Back in 2007, she started a calling campaign where one of her office/campaign members down in Washington, DC would “call” people in Maine to ask us to join in on a “live” discussion with Sen. Susan Collins. The taped messenger would then tell you to stay on the line as the “discussion was happening” to ask Collins a question.
But, guess what? You never got through to ask Collins a question! In fact, this scheme never allowed you to actually ask her a question, but rather, was an informercial where you could only listen to Collins talking about her positions and “taking questions” from the people in the “audience”.
It was a sham. Sen. Susan Collins’ office was duping Mainers back in 2007.
Neilius of Turn Maine Blue did a post on Sen. Susan Collins “live conference call” around the time it was happening, and said this:
Did ANY participants ask her a question that could remotely be construed as critical? Controversial? Not hardly. In fact, one of the participants, a “small business owner” from old town, said something about how she noticed that Susan has been really “leaning to the left” lately – only to follow with a “question” about wanting to pay less taxes as a small business. If there was ever something that anyone in the well-over-50%-of-the-state-that-is-blue-minded thought about Susan Collins, I can tell you that it WOULDN’T be “wow, she’s really been leaning to the left lately”.
I probably should have hung up 5 minutes into the call. But I waited, tempted by the notion that perhaps this really WAS a live call, and perhaps I WOULD get a chance to ask MY question. I listened for about 45 minutes. One of the questioners at the end said something about how she had been on the call for 20 minutes, and it was at THAT point that I really knew that something wasn’t quite right. I had been on the phone for over 40 minutes at that point, so clearly I would have been ahead of her in the questioning queue…unless questioners were “randomly” selected from the queue, as well.
And still, I waited. It was announced that there would only be one more question, and this one was from Portland! Could it be me? I unmuted the phone, and got my notebook ready, took a deep breath. But no, it wasn’t me, it was someone else asking yet another ridiculous “question” about how great Susan Collins is (not). See, I can’t even bear to write it without qualifying it, the thought is just so ludicrous.
By the way, I also called Sen. Susan Collins office to find out what was going on (I had received one of the robo calls myself):
I called Susan Collins’ office today here in Maine to find out about these “live cold calling” calls that she’s making. I told Helena, who is one of her office support people, that I had also received a call like this at least a month ago and when I heard Collins’ recorded voice asking me to join in a live discussion, I ended up hanging up. After a few minutes after doing that I realized that was dumb to do, so I called the number back and I got a cell phone answering machine (it was a DC area phone number) that belonged to a young guy (could tell by his voice he was probably in his 20’s) and I asked her who this young guy was. She said she didn’t know. I said to Helena, “Don’t you think it’s a little weird that a guy with a cell phone in DC called my house and when I picked it up, it was a recorded voice of Susan Collins. Helena acted like she didn’t know why it was done like that.
By the way, Helena was very nice and patient with my questioning.
So, I tell Helena this and then I tell her that there are people online talking about how they’re also receiving these “random” calls from her office and I asked her these questions:
Are these calls actually live? (Helena said ‘yes’)
Where does Susan Collins do these “live conversations”? (Helena said they’re done in Collins’ office in DC)
How come only softball questions are asked of Susan and none are asked by those who oppose Susan? (Helena said, “If your question didn’t get through, then you can send her an email and she’ll personally answer it”.)
Would Susan be willing to videotape herself live when she’s doing these calls? (Dead air…no answer given directly to this question, but Helena did reiterate that if I have a question that needs to be addressed to please send it to Susan)
I said to Helena that there are some online who have received these calls and who are now believing that they’re pre-recorded “discussions” to make it look live, but really, it’s not and it’s just a way of advertising Susan’s issues etc. (Helena answered that they ‘are live’)
Does Susan Collins advertise that these calls are going to be taking place, so those who are not getting a call, can also participate? (Helena didn’t know)
Are any republicans in Maine complaining because they didn’t get through to ask her a question? (Helena only said that there have been calls asking about this ‘live cold calling’ and when I pushed further if it was republicans who were also complaining, she couldn’t say. She didn’t know)
I think this ‘live cold-calling’ by Susan Collins is a farce. Seems that way to me. Not surprised. She is not a moderate either, so why wouldn’t she deceive Mainers that she’s letting them listen in on a “live chat” so they can ask a question, when all the while it’s really a recorded session that is going on and she’s just duping the public one more time.
Sick and I’m tired of this kind of crap.
Neilius then updated the original post to reflect WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON (links disabled below, sorry):
At the suggestion of several commenters in the thread, I have investigated the situation further. Here’s what I found out so far (all references to commenters refer to users at dailykos, where this conversation initiated):
First off, one of the commenters (blubryeyes) actually called the number that was listed in my caller ID, and found out that it belonged to “TeleTownHall” and “Constituent Town Hall Services”.
If you go to their websites, teletownhall.com and constituenttownhall.com, you’ll see that it sounds “legitimate” enough – a computer dialer calls thousands of numbers from the lists that are provided by their clients (in this case, presumably, Senator Collins), and callers are given a chance to join a conference call and queue up to ask a question (which I did).
Then (this is an important part), the call hosts can, through a web interface, see who is on the line, and who is waiting to ask a question. Assuming that this call actually happened “live” (there was never anything that happened that couldn’t have been pre-recorded), I have two guesses:
1. The questions WERE asked in-the-moment, but all of the questioners were selected based on party affiliation or their being, somehow, “known” entities to the Senator. In fact, Susan actually knew a couple of the questioners…how likely is it THAT was random?????
2. The questions were all prepared in advance, the questioners were all selected in advance, and all the rest of us who queued up for questioning never really had a chance to ask OUR (more probing) questions.
Furthermore, a whois lookup of ConstituentTownHall.com reveals that the registrant of the website (which was actually hidden for TeleTownHall.com) was Rodney A. Smith. A little more googling reveals that Rodney A. Smith is, surprise, surprise, one of the MAJOR Republican fundraisers, having been Finance Director for the RNC, NRSC, AND NRCC. How much more surprised you might be to find out that my research seemed to indicate that ALL of the politicians who have used this service, so far, have been Republicans!
It also sounds like Smith is your typical establishment consultant, having found ways to make hundreds of thousands of dollars off of his (republican) clients, for himself and members of his family. Read this interesting article by Jim Hightower: Hightower article
Here is a brief that Rodney Smith filed with the supreme court (on the behalf of Mitch McConnell, of course) – which gives biographical information: amicus brief of Rodney Smith
Article about the teletownhall concept, which makes it obvious (even from the content of the website itself) whose agenda the teletownhalls are supposed to promote: townhall.com article
So, how likely do you think it is that a major Republican finanical player has given republican politicians a chance to hear candid feedback from their constituents?
OR, could is possibly be that this Mr. Rodney A. Smith has devised a way to help Republicans do their campaigning under the guise of an “open, live town hall meeting” that is just grey enough so as to not make its intent (and it’s law-breaking (or, at a minimum, law-skirting) crystal clear?
Was this call paid for by campaign funds? By “official” funds? And maybe it’ll be just too difficult to prove exactly what happened behind-the-scenes last night.
Following the money, I think that the choice is obvious. How about you?
Nice, huh? Sen. Susan Collins knows that most Mainers are stupid and wouldn’t question “Our Senator’s” honesty after these kinds of calls. Collins is so far up the ass of the right wing of this country some mistakenly call her ‘Susan Rove’ or ‘George Collins’ from time to time.
Don’t let Sen. Susan Collins fool ya about the robo calls John McCain’s campaign is doing here in Maine. She’s completely for this kind of crap, but she knows a win for her in November is very fragile, so she has to give the appearance she’s above this kind of vile campaigning, when really…..THIS IS THE ONLY CAMPAIGNING SHE’S EVER KNOWN! Starting in 1996, she has lied & deceived Mainers. As she pointed out, she’s running for her 3rd term (her first lie when she said it would only be 2 terms) BECAUSE SHE LOVES THE POWER SHE HAS IN D.C., you know, THE POWER TO PROTECT HERSELF, GEORGE BUSH, JOE LIEBERMAN, AND ASSES LIKE JOHN MCCAIN! Oh yes. She’s all about the power.