Under the Dome

Blue Cross fined for health reform robo calls

January 29, 2010 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will pay a $95,000 fine for violating the state's robo calls law.

The company's 100,000 robo calls from October 2009 violated state law, according to the state Attorney General's Office, because the calls were not introduced by a live operator who could give recipients a chance to reject them.

"People have had enough of answering their phones and hearing a recorded message," Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement.

Residents complained to Cooper's office after they got calls made by Campaign Connections, a public relations and political consulting firm, on behalf of Blue Cross. Legislators asked for an investigation.

Blue Cross stopped the calls when state consumer protection lawyers contacted the company.

The recorded message told recipients to expect a postcard that Blue Cross wanted them to send to U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. The postcard opposed the health care public option considered as part of the health system overhaul.

Blue Cross said the calls were legal, and if they weren't, it was because of a technical error.

Rove helps Burr

Former White House adviser Karl Rove helped raise about $400,000 Thursday night in Raleigh for the re-election campaign of GOP Sen. Richard Burr, according to the event's organizers.

The event at the Angus Barn restaurant, one of the larger fundraisers for Burr, featured Rove, who was the chief political strategist for former President George W. Bush.

The general chairman was Greensboro business executive Louis DeJoy, the husband of Aldona Wos, a former U.S. ambassador to Estonia.

The chairman was Raleigh attorney Jim Cain and his wife Helen. Cain is a former U.S. ambassador to Denmark. Both DeJoy and Cain are veteran GOP fundraisers.

Among the co-chairmen were Ann and Jim Goodnight, the founder of SAS, the Cary software company; builder Jeff Ammons and his wife, Beth; North Hills developer John Kane and his wife, Willa; former Raleigh City Councilman Kieran Shanahan and his wife, Tina; and Golden Corral executive Ted Fowler and his wife, Glenda.

The event was closed to the news media, which drew some criticism from the Democrats.

"Burr either doesn't want a picture taken with his old buddy or he doesn't want North Carolina voters to be reminded of his dismal record of rubber-stamping the policies that wrecked the North Carolina economy in the first place," said Deirdre Murphy, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Tired of this yet? Details of Andrew Young's tell-all book about his former boss John Edwards have started to trickle out. Among the revelations: that Edwards hated having to mix with regular people and that he wanted his mistress to have an abortion. Someday, the hits to Edwards' reputation will end. Until then, Young is scheduled to offer more salacious tidbits tonight on ABC's "20/20."

Outranked: North Carolina's stimulus Web site ranks low on a list judging the states' sites. Maybe some stimulus funds could get the site up to snuff.

Booze biz: A poll says residents are divided on whether to privatize the state's troubled system for selling liquor. A poll by Civitas found that 57 percent of Baptists want to keep the ABC system, while 66 percent of Catholics favor privatization.

In other news: Lanny Wilson, the Wilmington financier who figures in the federal investigation into former Gov. Mike Easley, quit his influential seat on the N.C. Turnpike Authority days after stepping down from the N.C. Board of Transportation.

The state's Medicaid spending is running as much as $250 million over budget.

By staff writers Lynn Bonner, Rob Christensen and Benjamin Niolet

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service