It’s an Election Year and here’s the Spam to Prove It

If you’re a registered voter and/or ever contributed to a political campaign, you’ve probably received a fair share of political spam in your inbox.  These messages almost always beg for money and give the impression it’s needed urgently. How do they get the addresses?

Usually from voter rolls, census reports, and other publicly available documents. If you answer their appeals and give money, even if it’s only $5, you’ll get even more spam. My husband and I donated to President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and have been getting spam ever since. The messages have from lines that claim they were sent by Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Sherrod Brown, and various other well-known Democratic politicians. They are also made to look like personal messages from them to us but obviously they are just canned messages meant to persuade us to give even more money.

In my experience, some political campaigns seem to be buying mailing lists from anyone they can. I got an email from a Republican candidate for congress in Florida asking me to contribute to their campaign and vote for them. I’m a Democrat from New York! A total waste of their time – and perhaps of the money they spent to buy the list they got my name from.

The reason politicians are allowed to do this lies within the CAN-SPAM Act. Under it charities, companies you’ve done business with in the past and yes, politicians are generally exempt from the requirements everyone else must follow or face stiff fines (the same is true of the Do Not Call list, by the way, which is why those lovely “robocalls” are allowed). I suppose it’s not surprising that the lawmakers would exempt themselves from the very laws they pass.

Does political spam bother you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Bradley Lewis · June 29, 2012

    I have a similar problem! I typically only vote “way J”, yet somehow I’ve wound up on several “way P” mailing lists, through the post, my email, I’ve even been added to some kind of “way P” book club in the past, and I have no idea how they got to my address. One of the regular emails even failed to offer an unsubscribe option. So we can legislate CAN-SPAM but our politicians shouldn’t be held accountable?

  2. Cathy Dane · July 1, 2012

    Political spams are bothersome especially when it comes from the other parties. I tend to get defensive of the party I choose and get irked by emails from the other party, more so if they are on the other side of a particular issue that I am so passionate about (e.g. healthcare).

    It is really more of a turn-off for me when they’re not savvy with their messages and it is so obvious that it’s really the money they want. I am a highly politicized person and would want updates or substance on what I’m reading. Don’t give me motherhood statements and I’ll get turned off.

  3. Doug Mayner · July 25, 2012

    How typical of politicians. Yes, humans are full of double standards and politicians are ahead of the bunch in this regard. They always find a way out not to adhere to the principles behind the law they legislate.

    However, if they push the limits of what the CAN-SPAM law provides them, they risk annoying the very people they are trying to court come election time. Politicians, however, will always believe that they can wag the dog and always risk annoying or even irritating people, believing that they can get their sympathies back in the future.

    But, if they do continually try to “spam”, wouldn’t they at least try to target the right people and re-check their lead lists? Don’t send emails to voters in NY when you’re only running for CA.

  4. William Burke · October 18, 2012

    You put it mildly, meekly! I have been SWAMPED by campaign SPAM, 95% of it from (reputedly) the White House, President Obama, Michelle Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi… you get the picture. I don’t know how they figured me for a Democrat; maybe one online petition that was hazily “progressive”; WHO KNOWS?

    I am on my high horse about this horseshit! I wouldn’t vote for either candidate; I wouldn’t pee on either one of ’em IF THEIR HEART WAS ON FIRE! How do we put a STOP to this (all right, I’m going to be nice and delete the expletive, but it’s a DOOZY.

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