WATERLOO --- Three Democratic Iowa House candidates in Black Hawk County say they have been the target of anonymous attack-ad automated telephone calls or "robocalls," which they say misrepresent their position on immigration issues.
Incumbent state Reps. Bob Kressig and Don Shoultz and House candidate Doris Kelley said they all have been subjected to the calls, which alternately claim they support free health care or college tuition breaks for illegal aliens.
Kressig said one of the calls, as recorded by one of his supporters, said, "Bob Kressig signed a pledge that will provide taxpayer health insurance to every new illegal immigrant. Call Bob Kressig and tell him that our health-care costs are high enough without having to pay for health care for illegal immigrants too."
The caller ID of the person receiving the call only displayed the words "Private Caller," and no phone number, Kressig said.
"I've had calls on this whole robocall thing, people are saying, 'Bob how stupid do they think we are that we're gong to believe this?'" Kressig said.
He previously signed an "Iowa for Health Care Pledge" put forth by an organization called Iowa for Health Care, which said, "Everyone, including employers, consumers and the state, local and federal government should make a responsible and fair contribution to finance the health care system." It makes no reference to illegal aliens or free health care.
Kressig and officials with Iowa for Health Care said every member of the Iowa House and Senate Democrat caucuses signed the pledge, along with Republican Iowa Senate leader Mary Lundby of Marion.
Shoultz said he has been victimized by similar "robocalls" falsely claiming he was going to give free or reduced university education to aliens, or "a cheaper education than your children."
"Nobody ever identifies who's calling, or who's paying for the calling," Shoultz said.
State Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, while not the target of such calls himself, believes the calls are "an act of desperation" by individuals trying to plant doubt in voters' minds. He would support legislation requiring such callers to identify themselves.
Kelley also said she has been the target of similar calls, but did not elaborate.
Iowa House Speaker Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, who is advising Republican Statehouse candidates on their campaigns, said the Republican Party of Iowa is not responsible for such calls.
"There is an RPI robocall voiced by (U.S. Sen.) Chuck Grassley being sent only to Republicans --- saying only positive things about the Republican candidate," Rants said.
On the other side, Rants said, "I've gotten reports of some kind of anti-Republican auto-call in Pottawattamie County --- and the Democrats have dropped negative mailers statewide on Republicans misrepresenting their position on immigration issues."
The three Black Hawk County Republican candidates --- David Wieland, running against Kelley, Matt Reisetter, running against Kressig, and Tami Wiencek, running against Shoultz --- said they have not been the target of attack "robocalls" to their knowledge.
Wiencek said Grassley has been making automated calls endorsing her candidacy.
Wieland said he is not involved in any "robocalls" against his opponent.
"Don't want any part of it," he said.