Login to Claremont COURIER

Election winds down with mysterious, offensive text message

With the Measure CR campaign in its final days, an anonymous vulgar text message has riled up Claremont residents.

The text, sent from the phone number 909-323-1199, was pointedly against CR and sent to a number of Claremont residents on Monday afternoon. Measure CR is a proposed three-quarter cent sales tax increase that the city says will be used to cut away at future budget deficits and opponents say would hurt local businesses.

“Are you f*%king kidding me! Measure CR is a MASSIVE tax on everyone in Claremont. Vote NO on CR! Tell the city to stop taxing us!” The text read.

The expletive was self-censored with the asterisk and the percentage sign. A call to the number resulted in a busy signal.

The phone number is the same one used to send out a mass text against Measure SC, the police station bond that failed in June 2018.

The phone number is a non-fixed VoIP number through the carrier Neutral Tandem-California, LLC, which also works under the name Intelliquent. The company provides telecommunications, including voice over internet protocal services, like those used by the person who sent the anonymous text.

Texts and phone calls from VoIP lines are registered by an individual typically through an email. Messages are sent through the internet using a dummy phone line, like (909) 323-1199, so the sender can remain anonymous.

The phone numbers are very difficult to trace back to the registrant without a warrant. Efforts were made by both the yes and no committees with little result. The COURIER has sent the phone number to several parties for further investigation.

Screenshots of the text were posted on Claremont Connects, the local Facebook community bulletin board that has been an epicenter of debate for and against Measure CR in recent months.

Reactions from residents online ran the gamut from shock to dismay to accusatory. Both yes and no proponents traded barbs with each other over the text across social media.

Representatives of both sides of the CR aisle condemned the text when reached on Tuesday afternoon.

Laura Roach, the chair of the Yes for Claremont campaign, said she thought the text was “appalling.”

“Unequivocally, we do not condone or promote or encourage this behavior, period.” Ms. Roach said. “We have very limited resources and we would never use those resources to promote anything other than our own message.”

That statement stems from accusations online from some detractors of CR accusing the yes campaign of sending out the text to discredit the no campaign.

Ms. Roach said was “disturbed” at the accusations on social media and found the allegation “ludicrous.” She noted that while the yes campaign did purchase voter data, it was only to do precinct walking and to send campaign mailers to vote-by-mail and poll voters.

Yes for Claremont sent out an official statement on Facebook Monday evening condemning the text.

“The Yes for Claremont Campaign Committee is dedicated to only promoting positive messages to our local community,” the statement read. “We do not condone or participate in negative campaign tactics by anyone, period.”

Donna Lowe of the No on CR campaign also condemned the text message, and has officially filed a complaint about the text with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

“The vulgarity and the distastefulness of the tactic has no place in Claremont politics,” she said.

She speculated the person responsible for the text was “likely someone who is rogue.” She made clear the no campaign does not have access to voter data or a third-party marketing firm, instead using their resources to make signs, hold rallies and put flyers and ads in the COURIER.

She initially accused the yes campaign of sending the text, but explained it was a “defense response” after yes proponents said the text was a dirty tactic from the no campaign. 

“I’m really disappointed that we can’t run clean campaigns, and I’m really disappointed that in this community, that’s highly educated and a very thought-provoking community, that someone would have to resort to vulgar messaging.”

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com