State Politics

Thousands register for class action suit against O’Rourke campaign for unsolicited texts

How do voters feel about the name Beto O’Rourke?

At his rally in Fort Worth’s North Side, Tarrant County voters said they accept senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s use of his Latino nickname even though he’s of Irish-American descent. Some said that the name Beto is a personal touch to a campaign.
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At his rally in Fort Worth’s North Side, Tarrant County voters said they accept senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s use of his Latino nickname even though he’s of Irish-American descent. Some said that the name Beto is a personal touch to a campaign.

Thousands of people have joined a class action suit against Beto O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate campaign, saying they received unsolicited text messages from the organization.

The suit, filed Oct. 19 in the Northern District of Texas, names Collin County resident Sameer Syed as a plaintiff on behalf of all Texans that the Beto for Texas campaign sent texts to without obtaining permission.

Since then, Syed’s lawyer said more than 5,000 people have registered to be a part of the class action suit, with hundreds more applying each day.

“Mr. Syed brought this lawsuit because he became frustrated by the amount of unsolicited text messages he received from the Beto for Texas campaign,” attorney Shawn Jaffer said. “We then discovered that many people were receiving these text messages on their cellphone even though they never consented to receiving messages from the Beto campaign.”

Even after serving Beto for Texas the suit, Jaffer said, Syed received another text message Wednesday from the campaign.

“Beto’s campaign continues to ignore Mr. Syed’s demand for the text messages to stop,” Jaffer said.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act prohibits the use of automated telephone equipment to send texts or calls to a person’s cellphone without their permission except for emergency purposes.

While political messages are protected under the first amendment, the act’s restrictions apply to political calls and texts when an auto dialer is used.

Syed says the texts were sent using an automated system because when he called the numbers he was receiving the messages from, the calls resulted in error messages or disconnected dial tones.

Others said they received texts from the campaign but, when they texted back asking to be removed from the call list, received a reply confirming their removal.

One woman, who did not want to be identified, said she received a text from a number she did not recognize and the person identified themselves as a volunteer at Beto for Texas.

“Can we count on your vote?” the text said.

The woman responded she wanted to be taken off the list to receive O’Rourke’s texts. She received a reply saying, “Okay, I’ll take you off the list now.”

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A class action lawsuit filed against the Beto for Texas campaign claims the organization sent text messages to Texans without obtaining their permission. Screenshot Provided

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A class action lawsuit filed against the Beto for Texas campaign claims the organization sent text messages to Texans without obtaining their permission. Screenshot Provided

In the suit, Syed demands that Beto for Texas pay at least $500 per text message to Syed and other members of the class action suit.

“We contend that the Beto for Texas campaign is well aware of the TCPA and its consequences but still decided to sent out these unlawful nuisance text messages to Texans,” Jaffer said in a statement. “We would like for the Beto for Texas campaign to honor the rights of Texans to be free from nuisance text messages and would like for the campaign to follow the law.”

In response to the lawsuit, Chris Evans, communications director of Beto for Texas, said the campaign’s program is fully legal.

“Our grassroots volunteer program with thousands of Texans canvassing, phone banking, texting, and organizing is the largest this state has seen. It is fully compliant with the law,” he said.

O’Rourke is in a heated campaign for Texas’ U.S. Senate seat against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. The election is Nov. 6.

Find more information about the class action suit here: jafflaw.com/beto-for-texas-class-action-lawsuit-class-registration/

Kaley Johnson: 817-390-7028, @KaleyJohnson6
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