The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards today found probable cause to investigate an ethics complaint filed against Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) by two of her colleagues.
Two Monmouth County Democratic legislators, Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold), filed a complaint last July alleging that a robocall DiMaso recorded following their vote on the state budget violated the Truth-In-Caller ID Act when an automated dialing system was programmed to spoof their phone number as the originator of the robocall.
The complaint against DiMaso was first reported by the New Jersey Globe.
Houghtaling and Downey claim that DiMaso, who represents a neighboring district of spoofing their district office’s telephone number in a robocall attacking the two over tax hikes passed in June during the year’s budget negotiations.
Downey and Houghtaling allege that the robocall violated the Truth-In-Caller ID Act, which prohibits the use of spoofing a caller ID number for fraudulent purposes. They filed similar complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and the state Attorney General, which can file civil and criminal charges under the act, respectively.
DiMaso said last year that she was not involved with the call spoofing, saying her involvement was limited to the recording of the call. A political consultant not named in the proceedings who worked on the ad said the spoof was done in error.
The consultant said he or she had entered the number accidentally because it was featured in the ads script.
The committee accepted jurisdiction over the complaint but held off on further action, as the committee’s counsel recommended the body reach out to the FCC and the Office of the Attorney General to ascertain whether either agency had launched an investigation over the charges.
In 2014, the state indicted a Republican political operative working for a primary opponent for making 4 AM robocalls that purported to be from GOP legislators Joe Kyrillos, Declan O’Scanlon and Amy Handlin and spoofed the Monmouth GOP headquarters phone number. In 2012, an aide to former Assemblyman Paul DiGaetano pled guilty to charges that he spoofed the phone number of a Wayne councilwoman.Serena DiMaso complaint