Voters in state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s district have been bombarded with automated phone calls asking their opinion of him, but both the Republican lawmaker and his primary challenger say they had nothing to do with the survey.
Campfield and Richard Briggs, a physician and Knox County commissioner who has declared himself a candidate for Senate District 7 in the 2014 Republican primary, said they have heard from people unhappy with the calls. In many cases, there were apparently repeated callbacks.
“It was OK to respond once, but I didn’t want to respond 20 times,” said Pam Jordan, a retired KUB employee who said she began receiving repeated calls starting at about 6:30 p.m. Monday and continuing until 8:23 p.m.
If she hung up on the call, there was an immediate call back, she said. If she responded, there would still be another call perhaps five minutes later, Jordan said.
She declined to say which of five options she chose from those presented for an opinion on Campfield, who has stirred controversy both with bills filed and comments made as a legislator.
According to several of those receiving them, the “robo poll” call began with a voice saying “Citizen Opinion Research” was conducting a “quick, one-minute survey” on Campfield. The respondent was then asked to press a number on the phone corresponding to the persons opinion of the senator – one for the most positive, for example, four for unfavorable and five for no opinion.
Briggs and Campfield both said they had not received one of the calls and both noted the result of any poll involving repeat calls to the same number would have results skewed so badly as to be unreliable.
“I have never done a poll in my life and I’m not about to start with this one,” said Campfield, who added that some have told him to repeated callbacks seemed designed to “harass” the voter until he or she gave a negative response.
“It was clearly somebody who was trying to get a result and not a real poll,” said the senator.
Briggs said he had nothing to do with the calls and found it a “real head scratcher” why anyone would conduct such a survey.
The short format, he said, was reminiscent of past robo polls on issues before the county commission in the past – a proposed property tax increase, for example, or a more recent poll on whether city or county employees should serve on the city council or county commission.