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House impeachment lawmakers receive hundreds of telemarketing calls

impeachment day 1.jpg
Lee Strubinger
Special Agent Jeramie Quam with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation testifies before the House Select Committee on Investigation.

Some members of the House who are involved in the impeachment inquiry say they’re getting flooded with phone calls.

The Speaker of the House claims it’s a telemarketing effort to impeach Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

Rep. Jaime Smith, D-Sioux Falls, says one night earlier this week, he got several hours worth of phone calls.

“Asking me if I’d like to talk to my representative about the impeachment process," Smith says. "I kept asking who they were, where they were, what their purpose was.”

When Smith told callers he is a member of the impeachment inquiry, he says they hung up. But more calls kept coming in.

“I asked where they were multiple times, I guess, and finally one guy said he was in Pierre,” Smith says. “It didn’t sound like he was in Pierre. I don’t know if there are call centers in Pierre, South Dakota. But you could definitely hear in the background other people talking as well on their calls. You couldn’t hear what they were saying, necessarily, but it was definitely a room full of callers."

Smith says he doesn’t know who was behind the calls. But he says some of the people wanted the Attorney General impeached.
Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch claims an out-of-state company has been calling South Dakota residents and encouraging them to say yes to a call transfer.

Residents are then forwarded to members of the impeachment inquiry.

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Gosch says he received anywhere from 50 to 100 calls a day. He says initial callers gave false facts about the investigation.

“Ultimately, I don’t think the calls were very successful,” Gosch says. “Because most of the calls would come directly to the legislators, they would read their script and then you’d identify yourself and things would go differently.”

Gosch says the calls lasted a few days and that any coordinated call effort would be extremely inappropriate. Speaker Gosch says he’s not sure who’s behind the effort but asks the public to contact their legislator if they have more information.

The House Select Committee on Investigation is scheduled to meet again on Monday afternoon.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.