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Bongino Accuses Sobhani of Campaign Ethics Violation

The Republican candidate for Maryland's Senate says the Independent made unattributed robocalls disparaging him.

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland is accusing the Independent candidate of violating federal election law by sending out robocalls on Sunday night that didn't include a campaign disclaimer.

The call, which was recorded and uploaded to Youtube by a staffer for Republican Dan Bongino, asserts that Rob Sobhani supports making English the country's official language. Bongino said this claim was false.

Also, the caller claims Sobhani is the real conservative alternative to incumbent Democract Sen. Ben Cardin, another claim that Bongino disputes.

"That's not only unethical, that's a clear criminal offense," Bongino said. "Unfortunately, you have the right to be dishonest in politics, but you don't have the right to be dishonest anonymously."

Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, all of a candidate's official communications—including automated phone calls—must include a disclaimer indicating that it was paid for by the campaign.  

Most violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) result in civil penalties. If a campaign or persons are shown to knowingly and willfully violate certain FECA provisions, it can lead to imprisonment, according to the FEC website.

Sobhani did not return Patch's request for comment, but a spokesperson for his campaign told The Capital Gazette that it will defend itself against Bongino's accusations.

Sam Patten told The Capital that the campaign did pay for the calls, but the recording included an authority line that must have accidentially been cut off by Boningo's staffer's phone.

"All his campiagn has to do is produce a robocall with that authority line," Bongino said. "I doubt he has it."

Sobhani briefly tied Bongino in the polls this September with both men garnering about 20 percent of the vote. In recent weeks, Sobhani's numbers have dropped to about 14 percent as Bongino's have risen to around 34 percent. Cardin, who most political analysts expect to win, has consisntently hovered around the 50 percent mark.

Bongino said he believes the robocall was intentionally misleading in order to peel off a portion of the conservative vote.

"Ten to 15 percent of the electorate is still undecided in this race," Bongino said. "We're not in this for second place."

Bongino said his campaign intends to go forward with the FEC complaint regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election.

"We were attacked by someone who broke the law," Bongino said. "What was done was an embarrassment to Maryland politics."

julia potkin November 06, 2012 at 04:23 AM
A life-long democrat I was gravitated to Rob Sobhani because of his very convincing issues-oriented platform and a commitment to deliver or not to run for a 2nd term. How refreshing is that? On the other hand, Bonagano who has been campaigning for two years, seems not to know Ben Cardin is the incumbent Senator he is trying to unseat. Instead, his full-time obsession has become Rob Sobhani whom he first called a co-conspirator (with Cardin) spending millions of his own cash just to take down the former S.S. agent. Then came nasty racial attacks against Rob Sobhani and his family, followed by a Donald Trump-like challenge of Sobhani's Kansas birth certificate! None of that sticking, a shift came to attack Sobhani's Episcopalian faith, followed a most bizarre claim of egg-tossings at a family van! Eventually Banagoni came up empty in producing mid-night infrared (or was it drone or satellite) photos he claimed showing state-wide yard-sign theft! And now, Biongano's closing campaign push seems to be a whopping breaking news of an answering machine cut-off of a standard robocall disclaimer? Hmm, this guy is just a bit too bizarre and out of his league. Good thing he ain't going nowhere!
Kate November 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM
I think robocalls should be banned altogether. I received four in one night from the same person. Definitely won't vote for that person now..borderline harassment.

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