Mayoral challenger sued over text messages - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Mayoral challenger sued over text messages

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A local man is suing Houston mayoral candidate Ben Hall, accusing his campaign of sending illegal text messages.

Joe Shields says on Friday two of his family cell phones received the message, which included a link to Hall's web site and instructions for opting out of further texts.

After calling Hall's campaign - and Politikast, the company that sent out the text messages - Shields says he was unsatisfied with their responses.

So on Monday, he filed a federal law suit against Hall. Shields' suit claims he never consented to receiving such texts, which would make the messages he did receive unlawful.

"You're not required to opt out, they're required to have you opt in," explained the plaintiff. "Prior express consent of the called party. And they didn't have that."

Joe Shields' lawsuit is seeking damages of $3000, the maximum allowable for two text messages.

"[Hall] is definitely benefiting from an illegal text message that was made to my cell number and my wife's cell number," Shields said. "Probably a bunch of other people too."

According to Ben Hall's campaign, the texts have gone out to more than 100,000 cell phones with just one complaint: Joe Shields. And Shields has turned suing telemarketers, spammers and robo-texters into something of a cottage industry.

"We see this technology as an exciting approach and we will continue to use it because voters are receptive," said Hall's press secretary, Julia Smekalina. "We will ensure that every message is legally sound."

Politikast CEO Robert Culhane told FOX 26 News he could provide proof that Shields did indeed opt in. But the company was unable to supply that documentation by our broadcast deadline.

Ben Hall is challenging Mayor Annise Parker in the November election.

FOX 26 reached out to Parker's campaign, which issued this statement regarding the allegations in Shields' lawsuit: "It's another example in a pattern of disregard for the law, and this time, Mr. Hall is actually harassing voters."

No surprise here: Joe Shields says he will not cast his ballot for Hall. However, he isn't voting for Parker either.

And his reason? It's something all concerned probably wish they'd known from the start.

"I don't even live in the city of Houston."

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