A small Florida-based Tea Party group, Lee912, is urging Republicans to sabotage a key Obama campaign organizing tool, an online feature that allows supporters to access a list of phone numbers and place calls on behalf of the campaign from home.
Posting on the website, Meetup.com, the group's founder — Dr. Joe Magnant, a vein specialist practicing in Fort Meyers, Fla. — asked Lee912 members Thursday to use the Obama phone list to campaign for Romney.
Magnant suggests callers make the case directly for the Romney-Ryan ticket or just mark the voter as "already called" ("This will remove them from their call list," Magnant explains).
On the message board, Magnant lays out his plan, in all caps, as follows:
"If you don't feel comfortable knocking on doors, making phone calls or volunteering at a specific time or location then this might be just down your alley. You can from the comfort of your home on your computer use Obama's own call tool to fill out responses of folks on their call list without even having to talk with them. This will remove them from their call list. This is not being dishonest. You can answer neutral to the questions posed. Just get them off their call list and reduce the pool of eligible voters for them to contact. The alternative is to make the phone call and ask the question as a 'volunteer' not an Obama volunteer and make the case for a Romney/Ryan vote."
In a second post Thursday afternoon, Magnant tells group members that they shouldn't be "intimidated" by the prospect of placing calls. "I just made 25 calls or responses in less than 5 minutes on my desk top between procedures in my office," he wrote, also in all caps. "Think of what we could do if 100 of us did this for an hour each day from now until the election."
Asked about the potential risks of the "call tool" — that anyone could easily access the phone numbers and phone bank for Romney — an Obama campaign aide told BuzzFeed that they had seen small efforts like Magnant's, but hadn't experienced any widespread problems. "We have preventative measures in place and double-check all the data," the aide said.
Lee912, based in Fort Meyers, Fla., has 257 people on its mailing list — most from Florida — and says it aims "to unite and educate fellow patriots and take action to preserve the U.S. Constitution and our founding principles."
Magnant is a full-time physician with his own practice, Vein Specialists, focusing specificially on patients with leg vein problems (his website doman — weknowveins.com).
Brittany Jones, marketing director for Vein Specialists and Lee912, confirmed that Magnant is indeed the founder of the Tea Party group, but added that he would not be able to comment on this story
"Dr. Magnant is running behind today on patients," Jones wrote in an email, "as we had an emergency come in and he literally saved a man's life by detecting a blood clot that another doctor had failed to find. I am sorry but he will not be able to speak with you regarding your question. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Being a doctor is a very very busy yet rewarding job."
Ruby Cramer is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ruby Cramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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