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White Nationalist Based In Libby Fined Nearly $10 Million For Robo-calls

A self-described white nationalist content creator living in Libby has been fined nearly $10 million for hundreds of illegal robo-calls. The Federal Communications Commission announced the fine earlier this month.

In a forfeiture order released on Jan. 14, the FCC said Scott Rhodes made hundreds of robocalls in 2018 using a technique called neighbor spoofing, which makes it appear that the call is from a local number. Rhodes made the calls while living in Idaho, but has reportedly moved to Libby, Montana.

Spoofing is unlawful under the Truth in Caller ID Act when it is done with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain anything of value, according to the FCC.

The calls tied back to Rhodes played prerecorded messages about several public controversies, including an immigrant charged for the murder of a woman in Iowa. The FCC said Rhodes did not deny making the robo-calls but argued they were allowed under the First Amendment.

The FCC did not find that and other arguments persuasive. Rhodes has been ordered to pay $9.9 million in penalties.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.