How Did I Get On This Campaign Email List?

Spam emails, scam PAC emails, and campaign emails – not really a huge difference these days.  We all try to keep our inboxes free of the junk but during campaign season, it can be harder than usual, especially when you find yourself receiving an email from a candidate you’ve never heard of.

That happened to me earlier this year.

Kathy Manning

Kathy Manning – Image via Twitter

I’m used to getting stuff from the GOP, both state and national, but this is the first progressive Democrat who has emailed me out of the blue. (Pun intended.)

The email I received was from a woman named Kathy Manning and it was titled “I need you, so does North Carolina.”

It was an email asking for my help defending Obamacare that had a link to a petition.  Uh, no, thanks. 

I had never heard of Kathy Manning before nor had I ever visited her website or even her Twitter account until I received her email.

Manning is apparently challenging Ted Budd for the 13th district seat and I don’t even live in that district. I don’t even live close to it.

So where in the world did this woman get my email address from? I really wanted to know so I asked her – multiple times, both in email and via Twitter.

I have received no response from Manning or her campaign after a month and a half of trying. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Frustrated, I headed over to the NC State Board of Elections to see if I could find anything that might tell me what the law was about such emails. I figured, ‘hey, I’m registered as an unaffiliated, maybe she pulled a list from the state board’.

I didn’t find much so I emailed the Board of Elections about how Manning might have obtained my email address. Mr. Patrick Gannon was kind enough to respond to my inquiry and informed me that there wasn’t much in the way of legal avenues for such a situation.

“Thanks for your question. The State Board generally does not collect, nor distribute in any way, email addresses of voters. We would have no way of knowing how a particular candidate obtained your email address,” wrote Gannon.

“There is no recourse available through this agency under state law. You might try to “Unsubscribe” option on the email (if there is one). You could also try the Consumer Protection office at NC DOJ:, or the Federal Trade Commission,” Gannon said in the email. “However, I have been told that many consumer protections related to unsolicited emails often exempt political campaigns.”

I checked both areas he suggested. No luck.

I didn’t click the unsubscribe either but have not received any more emails. Perhaps my two emails to her asking about how she obtained my email address prompted her to remove me from her mailing list. Kind of rude of her not to respond to my question and just drop me off her list if that’s the case.

Either way, it’s fine by me she doesn’t send me emails anymore. What’s not fine is someone campaigning for a national seat who can’t respond to a simple question or that my email address is on some progressive campaign email list she either received from a colleague or worse, bought from a clearinghouse of some kind.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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