Bongino Accuses Sobhani of Campaign Ethics Violation

The Republican candidate for Maryland's Senate says the Independent made unattributed robocalls disparaging him.

UPDATE: (5:22 p.m.)—The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland is accusing the Independent of violating federal election law by sending out robocalls on Sunday night that didn't include a campaign disclaimer.

The call, which was uploaded to Youtube by a staffer for Republican Dan Bongino, states that Rob Sobhani supports making English the country's official language. Bongino said this claim was false.

Also, the caller claims Sobhani is the real conservative alternative to incumbent Democract Sen. Ben Cardin, another claim that Bongino disputes.

"That's not only unethical, that's a clear criminal offense," Bongino said. "Unfortunately, you have the right to be dishonest in politics, but you don't have the right to be dishonest anonymously."

Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, all of a candidate's official communications—including automated phone calls—must include a disclaimer indicating that it was paid for by the campaign.  

Most violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) result in civil penalties. If a campaign or persons are shown to knowingly and willfully violate certain FECA provisions, it can lead to imprisonment, according to the FEC website.

Sobhani's spokesman Sam Patten said that the campaign did pay for the calls, but the recording included an authority line.

Patten emailed Patch a copy of the audio file, which he said came from the campaign's contractor. It features the same female voice for the add but includes an authority line read by a male at the end of the message.

"The audio file from Dan Bongino's campaign must have been either intentionally or accidentally clipped," Patten said. "What I would point out there has been a pattern of very negative accusations and smears coming from this campaign towards Rob Sobhani."

Sobhani briefly tied Bongino in the polls this September with both men garnering about 20 percent of the vote. In recent weeks, Sobhani's numbers have dropped to about 14 percent as Bongino's have risen to around 34 percent. Cardin, who most political analysts expect to win, has consistently hovered around the 50 percent mark.

Bongino said he believes the robocall was intentionally misleading in order to peel off a portion of the conservative vote.

"Ten to 15 percent of the electorate is still undecided in this race," Bongino said. "We're not in this for second place."

Bongino said his campaign intends to go forward with the FEC complaint regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's election. 

"We were attacked by someone who broke the law," Bongino said. "What was done was an embarrassment to Maryland politics."

Patten said the Sobhani campaign isn't worried.

Political Register November 06, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Does Danny have any bread and cheese to go with all the bologna he's serving up? Give it up Bologna....you're coming in last, and this desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for your failed campaign doesn't fool anyone. It may take two election cycles for the Republican party to recover from your disgraceful candidacy. So proud to have voted for Sobhani.
julia potkin November 06, 2012 at 07:17 AM
A life-long democrat, I gravitated to Rob Sobhani because of his issues-oriented platform and a commitment to deliver or not to run for a 2nd term. How refreshing is that? Bonagano on the other hand has a full-time obsession with Rob Sobhani whom he first called a co-conspirator (with Cardin) spending millions to take down the former S.S. agent who no one seems to know even at election eve. Then came nasty racial attacks against Rob Sobhani and his family, followed by a Donald Trump-like challenge of Sobhani's Kansas birth certificate! None of that sticking, a shift came to attack Sobhani's Episcopalian faith, followed by a most bizarre claim of egg-tossings at Biongano's family van! More Bizarre was Banagoni coming up empty handed in producing mid-night infrared (or was it drone or satellite) photos he claimed showing state-wide "yard-sign theft!" And now, Biongano's closing campaign push seems to be a whopping breaking news of an answering machine cutting-off of a standard robocall disclaimer? Hmm, this guy is just a bit too bizarre. Thin-skinned and out of his league. Bigger question is why he quick his jobs with full benefits, just 10 days before a full-pension retirement -- and a pregnant wife about to give birth. To top it: not a single law-enforcement endorsement. Something is just not right with this guys radical right-wing guy.
MD Continental November 06, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Mr. Cardin seems to be a nice fellow, but is also a hard-core "party" man. That is, he will follow whatever the Democratic agenda is without question. Mr. Bongino seems sincere and may even make a good senator. However, he has done what MD Republicans tend to do by running a very lackluster and unenthusiastic campaign. The only sign of Mr. Bongino in Harford County has been some yard signs. Mr. Sobhani has also failed to visit Harford County personally, but has a more energetic campaign. Sorry Mr. Bongino, I will go with the Independent. Frankly, I am tired of BOTH political parties. We need some INDEPENDENT blood in Congress.
MD Continental November 06, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Mr. Bongino's comments and actions seem to be typical of a losing campaign.
Eric S. November 07, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I got a lot of spam for Sobhani. . . not sure how he got my email, and I didn't bother checking to see if he added a campaign notice or not. The irony is that I liked the idea of attacking most of what Sobhani was proposing to attack, but every single line after "I want to fix this issue" was followed by a fix that I whole heartedly disagree with. Well, and I hate spammers. I also don't like most incumbents, or party liners of either side of the too narrow aisle, so I voted for the Libertarian that nobody talked about. I didn't really agree with him all that much either, but he was the least douchey of the whole crew. And well, everyone knew Cardin was likely to get re-elected anyway.


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