The calls have been placed to constituents of Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California, Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio, and Rep. Dan Benishek of Michigan. One recent call accused Renacci of refusing to "denounce Rush Limbaugh's vicious atttacks on women" (though he says he has). It also said, "We are the women of the 99 percent, and we won't be silent anymore." The calls might be illegal, because they don't include a statement of who paid for them, or a callback number so recipients can opt out of future calls. One recipient of the Renacci call, Kathleen Laughman, has reported it to the FCC. But who's actually behind this semi-guerrilla, mostly dumb campaign? Our ideas, in ascending order of plausibility:
Cindy's gone rogue in the past, criticizing DADT while John McCain was still supporting it. Then she recanted. Is Cindy McCain sneaking out from under the thumb of the GOP establishment by making prank phone calls? She does disapprove of Rush Limbaugh!
Fake Wendi Murdoch
The Londoner who set up a fake Twitter account for Wendi Deng Murdoch clearly does weird things for fun. He told the Guardian:
I set up the account as a laugh, simple as that, when I was bored over the new year holiday and saw all the hype surrounding Rupert Murdoch joining Twitter.
Illegally robocalling people seems like questionable political strategy at best. So maybe the perpetrator is in fact someone with zero political ambitions and a lot of time on his hands.
Real Rush Limbaugh
Maybe Rush is posing as a female caller as part of his plan to make liberal women look bad. If so, he did a good job picking the seemingly litigious Laughman, whose letter to the FCC reads, in part, "I ask that you make an example of this group for its failure to comply with the very reasonable requirements set forth in federal law, in an effort to protect U.S. residents from further intrusive phone calls from secret groups." Rush would probably love a good catfight, but the downside of this theory is that there's nothing especially slutty about robocalling.
A kid who got his internet privileges taken away
Who makes prank phone calls anymore anyway? Maybe a kid who got caught playing too much World of Warcraft, so his mom unplugged the router? If this kid also cares about congressional races in Ohio, he's sort of awesome.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Some people suspect the DCCC of trying to sabotage Republican candidates, but they swear they didn't do it — and one would have to hope their tactics would be more sophisticated than this.
A grassroots group of politically-engaged women
Mayyyybe a group of ladies has actually gotten together and started pranking Rebublican Congresspeople using the language of Occupy. But why did they choose people who don't even support Limbaugh (like Renacci)? Why did they use an illegal robocalling strategy? Why won't they say who they are? Effectively speaking out usually involves identifying yourself — and getting your facts straight.
This is really the most likely possibility — a political strategist somewhere thought he or she had a genius idea and ran with it a little too quickly. The only problem with this theory is, if the culprit is a local operative, why call constituents in three different states? The plot remains thick. But whoever the caller is, the ploy could come back to bite them in the ass — an illegal robocall can set you back $11,000.