District attorney asks TBI to investigate Campfield robocalls

District attorney asks TBI to investigate Campfield robocalls

Posted:
"I've got 50 complaints at least, plus a ton of emails from people saying this is harassment, leave me alone, and I said, hey I'm not the one doing it," State Senator Stacey Campfield said. "I've got 50 complaints at least, plus a ton of emails from people saying this is harassment, leave me alone, and I said, hey I'm not the one doing it," State Senator Stacey Campfield said.
Richard Briggs, Campfield's opponent in the 2014 7th District Senate race denied any involvement last month. Richard Briggs, Campfield's opponent in the 2014 7th District Senate race denied any involvement last month.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols has asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into robocalls some people were flooded with in late June.

Authorities want to know whether someone broke state anti-harassment laws by sending repeated automated calls to voters asking their opinion of State Senator Stacey Campfield.

According to both men, Campfield told Nichols that he thought the calls appeared to be programmed to keep calling the same number until the person gave an unfavorable opinion of the senator.

Campfield says he's turned over around 30 emails of complaints from callers to the District Attorney.

"I've got 50 complaints at least, plus a ton of emails from people saying this is harassment, leave me alone, and I said, hey I'm not the one doing it," Campfield said.

The message says, "This is Citizen Opinion Research, and we are conducting a quick one question survey about State Sen. Stacey Campfield. Please indicate your response to the question by pressing the corresponding number on your phone. What is your opinion of State Sen. Stacey Campfield?"

The message asks listeners to rate Campfield on a scale of one to five with one being "very favorable," four being "very unfavorable" and five being "no opinion."

"The person, whoever did it is not using their real name, they're using some bogus company, they're using bogus phone numbers, so they don't want to know who these people are," said Campfield.  

TBI investigators will try to determine who exactly is behind the calls.

Richard Briggs, Campfield's opponent in the 2014 7th District Senate race, denied any involvement last month.

Campfield believes a possible source could be Ben Farmer, the CEO and founder of Cyragon, L.L.C, a political consulting company.

"When you look at any criminal case, you ask, who's got the motive, who's got the means? Ben Farmer has an auto dialer, was allegedly, I thought he was running the campaign of Richard Briggs, now he's supposedly just an advisor," said Campfield.  

According to campaign finance records obtained by 6 News, the Briggs campaign paid $7,000 over several months to Cyragon L.L.C.

6 News tried to contact Farmer, but he did not return our phone calls.   

6 News also contacted Briggs, but we were told he was on vacation.

Steve Hunley, the publisher of the Knoxville Focus, says he uses Farmer as a contractor to do polling research for his paper, which is done through robocalls.

Hunley says his newspaper had no involvement in the Campfield robocalls.  

The district attorney would determine which laws, if any, were broken after the investigation is complete.

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