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Controversial Campaign Phone Call

May 26, 2004, 6:30 PM by Jodi Schwan

Chances are, if you're registered to vote, your phone has been ringing off the hook.

Groups supporting either republican Larry Diedrich or democrat Stephanie Herseth have been calling voters across the state campaiging for the June 1 election.

School's out for the summer. And if 17-year-old Tyler Crissman knows classwork as well as campaigning, he shouldn't have to worry about his final exams. Yesterday, Crissman caught a political phone call that didn't make the grade.

Crissman says, "At the end they didn't identify themselves, so that's what threw up a red flag in my mind."

We listened to the call on a KELO employee's answer machine and heard the same thing Crissman did.

He says, "A person ID's themselves and they mention Larry Diedrich's record in the state Senate and how it will effect college students."

And yes, the call ends without telling you who pays for it. That violates election law.

So who would make a call criticizing Larry Diedrich? You'd think someone who supports Stephanie Herseth, right? Not necessarily.

When we asked the Herseth campaign about the call, they sent us this picture of a caller I-D that captured the sender. It shows R-D-I marketing services, a group that according to independent campaign finance records, has collected more than $350,000from the Republican party.

The Herseth campaign calls it a dirty trick meant to reflect badly on them. Diedrich's campaign calls that claim ridiculous and laughable.

Crissman says no matter who placed the call, he's not happy about it.

He says, "I believe in keeping the law and what they did was violate the law."

We tried contacting the marketing service Herseth's campaign feels made the call and were unable to reach anyone. When asked in other news stories, this group has not discussed its clients. Neither national party is taking responsibility for the call, so we couldn't find any other way to prove who placed it.

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