PolitiFact | Adam Putnam: Obama campaign gives free cell phones to supporters Lifeline and programs like it have been around quite a while. Lifeline was created in 1985 and expanded in 2008 during the Bush administration to include cell phone service. An FCC spokeswoman told PolitiFact in 2009 that the 1996 Telecommunications Act required the FCC to create the Universal Service Fund, a pool of money subsidized by small charges on phone bills and redistributed to low-income service programs, as well as programs that bring telecommunications services to rural areas and schools. Putnam told Romney supporters that the Obama campaign is offering cell phones to get its voters to the polls. Internet chatter claiming that Obama gave cell phones to welfare recipients contained a tiny grain of truth: The federal government does have a program to subsidize phone service for low-income people. That program, though, existed long before Obama became president. Putnam then squeezed all reality out of the story, twisting it into an allegation of dirty campaigning. He has since acknowledged the statement was wrong -- but not before announcing it at a high-profile presidential campaign rally. We rate his statement Pants on Fire! But... but... OBAMA!