Candidate apologizes for robocalls tied to city phone line

Ron Batliner (Ron Batliner for Commonwealth's Attorney/Facebook)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WAVY) — A candidate running to be Norfolk’s top prosecutor has apologized after he had a company make automated campaign calls from what appeared to be a city phone line.

Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Ron Batliner confirmed to that he recorded a campaign message from his city office on the night of March 16 and sent it to the company making automated calls for his campaign.

He says the company made the calls the next day, with the caller ID listing the City of Norfolk as the caller, instead of the robocall company.

Incumbent Greg Underwood says the calls made it look as if they or the government were endorsing Batliner.

Batliner apologized for the incident on his Facebook page, but said no one actually used a city phone to call potential voters directly.

When mistakes are made, I believe you should admit them.

Friday, my campaign made an automated call. And for those who had ID technology, it looked like it was coming from a city phone. It did not, but here’s what happened.

I stayed after hours at work on Thursday to speak at a downtown meeting. I recorded a message from my office and sent it to the company making the automated calls that my campaign paid for. In fact, no calls to citizens were directly made from a city phone on my behalf, and should have displayed the vendor’s telephone number.

This is my campaign, and this is ultimately my fault. I want to apologize to the city and everyone who got what they thought might be an official call.

It is a lesson learned, and I take it to heart.”