State of Minnesota
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Attorney General
Lori Swanson

Minnesota Attorney General's Office

1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

(651) 296-3353
(800) 657-3787

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Minnesota’s Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Law

To: Candidates, Political Campaigns, Political Parties, Political Committees and Other Interested Persons

FROM: Minnesota Attorney General’s Office

DATE: September 6, 2012

RE: Minnesota’s Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device Law

This Memorandum is to provide guidance to candidates, political campaigns, political parties, political committees, and others concerning Minnesota's automatic dialing-announcing device law. It is similar to Memoranda issued to such organizations by the Office in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.

Minnesota's ADAD Law

A copy of Minnesota's automatic dialing-announcing device law, which is contained at Minn. Stat. §§ 325E.26-.31, is attached.

The law provides as follows:

A caller shall not use or connect to a telephone line an automatic dialing-announcing device unless: (I) the subscriber has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to, permitted, or authorized receipt of the message; or (2) the message is immediately preceded by a live operator who obtains the subscriber's consent before the message is delivered.

Minn. Stat. § 325E.27 (2010). An "automatic dialing-announcing device," or "ADAD," is defined as "a device that selects and dials telephone numbers and that, working alone or in conjunction with other equipment, disseminates a prerecorded or synthesized voice message to the telephone number called." Minn. Stat. § 325E.26, subd. 2 (2010). "Caller" includes "a person, corporation, firm, partnership, association, or legal or commercial entity who attempts to contact, or who contacts, a subscriber in this state by using a telephone or a telephone line." Id. at subd. 3. "Subscriber" is defined as "a person who has subscribed to telephone service from a telephone company or the other persons living or residing with the subscribing person." Id. at subd.5.

Minn. Stat. § 325E.27 (2010) does not apply to "messages to subscribers with whom the caller has a current business or personal relationship."

The attached law also contains other provisions relating to the use of ADADs in Minnesota. For example, all ADADs (to the extent their use is not prohibited) must be designed and operated to disconnect within ten (10) seconds after termination of the telephone call by the subscriber. Minn. Stat. § 325E.28 (2010). ADADs may not be used before 9:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. Minn. Stat. § 325E.30 (2010). In addition, where an ADAD message is immediately preceded by a live operator, the operator must make certain disclosures to the subscriber. See Minn. Stat. § 325E.29 (2010).

The constitutionality of the ADAD statute has been upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. See State v. Casino Mktg. Group, Inc., 491 N.W.2d 882 (Minn. 1992) and Van Bergen v. State of Minnesota, 59 F.3d 1541 (8th Cir. 1995) (upholding constitutionality of ADAD statute in challenge by political candidate).

Enforcement of ADAD Law

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office ("AGO") is authorized to enforce the ADAD law and seek a court order to enjoin violations of it. See, e.g., Minn. Stat. §§ 8.31, 325E.31. This Office generally intends to follow this policy:

Upon receiving a verified and substantiated complaint that the above law has been violated, this Office WIll promptly contact the campaign that had allegedly violated the law and advise it of the ADAD violations. Upon receiving verified and substantiated complaints from three or more individuals involving an identified committee, this Office will promptly ask the committee to sign an Assurance of Discontinuance. If the committee does not do so promptly, the Office will file a lawsuit and seek a temporary restraining order ("TRO") to enjoin further violations of the law. In order for a complaint to be verified and substantiated, the complainant must sign an affidavit that documents the following:

  1. The date and time the subscriber received the ADAD message;
  2. Where available (i.e., when left on an answering machine), a recording of the text of the message;
  3. Substantiation of the identity of the caller;
  4. A statement that the subscriber (which includes persons living or residing with the subscriber), did not knowingly or voluntarily request, consent to, permit, or authorize receipt of the message;
  5. A statement that the message was not immediately preceded by a live operator who obtained the subscriber's consent (or the consent of a person living or residing with the subscriber) before the message was delivered; and
  6. A statement that the subscriber (which includes other persons living Dr residing with the subscriber) does not have a current business or personal relationship with the caller.

The purpose of requiring three signed affidavits is to reduce the potential for mischief by political opponents. We have received complaints in past elections, which were heavily publicized by the "outraged" complainant in the media, where the complainant had, in fact, contributed to, attended a meeting of, or otherwise presented himself as a person who has a relationship to the "candidate." Such a relationship, while contrived by the complainant, still meets the exception which permits an ADAD call to a person who has a "relationship" to the particular campaign. The purpose of three complaints is to make sure there is a valid complaint

Minn. Stat. §325E.26-31