Direct marketer denies selling Mexican voter information

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MEXICO CITY -- A U.S. direct marketing firm denies accusations that it was selling illegal, pirated Mexican voter information.

After leading Mexico City daily Reforma published a front-page story alleging that DM Group was selling Mexico City voter rolls, the Aurora, Ohio-based company found itself embroiled in an international controversy.

Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) announced it would take legal action against both the company - in Mexico and in the U.S. - and against the person who provided the information. Under Mexican law, voter registration information is confidential and any non-electoral use is illegal.

But DM Group says its information was not from voter rolls but culled during exit polling after 1995 election and was legally obtained. "I was not aware of IFE until (the Reforma article was published)," says Robert Hicks, president of DM Group.

An IFE spokeswoman rejected press reports that a legal complaint had been filed, but noted a letter was sent asking DM Group to stop marketing and selling the list. DM Group said it will continue to sell its list. "It is a database that was collected and is updated and there will be duplication of names," Mr. Hicks says. "But it is not a copy of an IFE list."

On its Web site, DM Group continues to advertise "Voter Registration of Mexico City, Mexico." DM Group assigned the list that trade name, Mr. Hicks says.

He admits the name may have caused some confusion, but also maintains that the reporter from Reforma took some of his comments out of context.

The list has been on the market for some time and is for direct marketing purposes, Mr. Hicks says. It has been rented by a number of companies, the names of which he would not reveal, and at a price well below the $500,000 tag attributed by Reforma.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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