Tom Balek, who is active with the Lewistown and Montana TEA Party Coalition, claims he has proved the conspiracy theory that President Obama bribed voters by giving away cell phones to anyone who voted for him for president.
You’ll probably recall this conspiracy as a particularly low point of the 2012 elections when conserva-blogger Matt Drudge linked to a YouTube video of a wacky-sounding woman from Ohio explaining that she was voting for President Obama because he gave her a free phone. The conservative blogosphere (and equally credible FauxNews and Limbaugh) went nuts.
Balek writes on his conspiracy blog that he ordered and obtained one of these “Obama Phones” as he calls a phone through what is called the Lifeline program, a Reagan-era program run by the Universal Service Administrative Company.
“I should probably send Barack a five-spot today, as a thank-you for the cool phone. Happy Birthday, buddy! What a guy. Why would I vote for anyone else?”
Problem is, the Universal Service Administrative Company is not an Obama-administration program at all. It is a privately-funded non-profit organization. This program helps families access telephone service so they can get help in emergency situations. It does not use taxpayer dollars, doesn’t pay for any actual phones, and was expanded by the George W. Bush administration to include cell phone services. Again, the Universal Service Administrative Company and the services is provides are not taxpayer-funded–phone customers cover the cost by paying a universal service fee, which is listed on monthly phone bills.