Potentially illegal text messages attack Randy Boyd, Bill Lee as early voting begins

As Tennesseans prepared head to the polls this week for the start of early voting, some residents are reporting receiving potentially illegal text messages that are attacking Republican gubernatorial candidates Randy Boyd and Bill Lee.

The text messages, copies of which were obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, appear to come from a Tennessee-based phone number.

The text message attacks against Lee have been about his previous donations to Democrats.

“I’d never vote for Bill Lee. He gave $ to liberals Megan Barry and Phil Bredesen, who’s running against Marsha (Blackburn)!” the unknown text sender says, while providing a link to a recent story.

A copy of text messages sent out to Tennesseans as

“Hey did you see this? Looks like Bill Lee’s not conservative,” another text says, highlighting Lee’s donations to the Democrats.

The attacks against Boyd seize on a USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee story that found his personal business avoided paying millions of dollars in U.S. and international taxes due to a legal but controversial loophole.

“Hey I’m a no on Randy Boyd now. Thought he was big TN biz/jobs guy, but he sent his jobs to China and hid $ overseas to not pay taxes,” another reads, linking to the story.

This one came to office cell and the number (731) 503-4789 and generated out of Newbern, TN. The text generated a link to an article by Dave Boucher with the Tennessean.

A copy of text messages sent out to Tennesseans as

Such attacks against Boyd and Lee have also been used in recently launched television ads by their GOP competitor, U.S. Rep. Diane Black.

On Friday, Black denied any knowledge of the text attacks on Boyd and Lee.

“What you’re saying to me is the first time I’ve ever heard of such a thing,” she said.

After Black was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, some Tennesseans received text messages touting the group’s support for her and directing recipients to donate to her campaign, according to another text message obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee. The NRA endorsement text also did not disclose who was behind it.

While it is not new for political campaigns to use text messages to reach out to potential voters, the attacks on Boyd and Lee do not disclose who is behind them.

Efforts to speak with someone with the various phone numbers associated with the messages were unsuccessful and met with repeated busy signals.

Fake numbers can be easily generated by a number of means.

Joel Ebert with the Tennessean originated to article. The numbers the Tennessean attempted to reach were all fake. We are sorry about the title…. just following Joel’s title…. as of yet we have not found anything stating this is illegal. We are a little concerned on how the hell they got our cell number.

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