Right-Wing Robocall Activists Face $1.25M Fine in NY

Calls claimed that details of mail-in voters in 2020 would be passed to police, credit card firms
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2024 4:50 PM CDT
Right-Wing Robocall Activists Fined Up to $1.25M
In this image taken from video provided by the 36th District Court in Michigan, Jacob Wohl, left, and Jack Burkman appear during their arraignment via video, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Detroit.   (36th District Court via AP, File)

Another state has punished two men behind a robocall campaign that sought to suppress mail-in voting in 2020. Right-wing activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman will pay fines of up to $1.25 million in a settlement agreement in New York, the Washington Post reports. The campaign contacted around 5,500 New Yorkers, most of them Black, with false claims that mail-in voters would have their information added to a database that police would use to track down old warrants and credit card companies would use to chase outstanding debts. "The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines," one call stated.

New York Attorney General Letitia James' office said the calls came from the "sham" Project 1599 organization created by Wohl and Burkman, the New York Times reports. One voter experienced "severe anxiety and distress and ultimately withdrew his voter registration" because of the calls, James' office said. The settlement resolves a 2020 lawsuit filed by the state attorney general's office, the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation civil rights organization, and individuals who received the calls, the AP reports.

Wohl and Burkman have been ordered to pay $1 million, which will rise to $1.25 million if they don't cough up at least $105,000 by the end of the year, but the total payment could be reduced to $400,000 if they meet payment deadlines, per the AP. The robocalls reached around 85,000 people nationwide, prosecutors say. The FCC issued a $5 million fine against the pair last year. In 2022, a judge in Ohio sentenced them to two years' probation and ordered them to spend 500 hours registering voters. (More voter suppression stories.)

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