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Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Faces Class Claims over Text Messages

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On June 15, 2020, the campaign of former 2020 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, “Bernie 2020,” was served with class claims in Minnesota federal court, alleging that the campaign violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by sending unsolicited text messages from the Sanders campaign to individuals’ cell phones using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”).

Named plaintiffs Jacob Buller and Cody Olson, alleged in the complaint that they first received unsolicited text messages from the Sanders presidential campaign in October 2019. Both plaintiffs argued that they did not willingly provide their cell phone numbers nor did they donate to, or have any affiliations with the Bernie 2020 campaign. The plaintiffs alleged that when they attempted to call the phone number associated with the unsolicited text messages, they received an error message or disconnected dial tone. The plaintiffs argued that this bolsters the allegation that the text messages were spam messages sent via an ATD. The plaintiffs’ argument that the messages were generated by an ATDS is furthered supported by the fact that the text messages in question were generic, impersonal and identical in nature.

The suit claims that the batch messages sent out by the Bernie 2020 campaign were specifically generated through a communication technology called peer-to-peer text messaging. The plaintiffs alleged the text messages were sent based on lists of recipients that have been uploaded by the campaign based on voter and volunteer data. Similar claims have been levied against the Trump reelection campaign in Minnesota federal court.

The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a class made up of all persons in the U.S. who were sent an unsolicited text message by the Bernie 2020 campaign or its agents to his or her cell phone through the use of any automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or pre-recorded voice system. The suit brings causes of action for negligent violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and knowing and or willful violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The case is: Buller et al. v. Bernie 2020 Inc., Case No.: 0:20-cv-01368, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

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