New York Attorney General Letitia James says two conservative operatives owe $2.7 million for robocalls New York voters received during the election. James says the calls weren’t just annoying, they targeted misinformation at Black New York voters.
According to NBC News, James said Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman “used misinformation to try to disenfranchise Black communities ahead of the election, in a clear attempt to sway the election in the favor of their preferred presidential candidate.”
The two men are already facing criminal charges in Michigan and Ohio for spreading false information about political candidates. In August 2020, officials allege the two men tried to influence 85,000 voters in urban areas nationwide by spreading misinformation about voting by mail.
James said the speaker on the robocalls would identify themselves as “Tamika Taylor of Project 1599,” and would falsely claim that voting by mail could potentially expose someone’s personal information to police “to track old warrants, credit card companies to collect debts, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track individuals for mandatory vaccines.”
“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man. Stay home safe and beware of vote by mail,” the call would conclude.
In court, Wohl, 23, and Burkman, 54, said they were indeed the ones behind the calls but denied that what they did was illegal, citing their free speech rights.
James’ office said emails between the two men the day before the calls went out shows targeted intentionality.
“We should send it to [B]lack neighborhoods….” an email sent on August 25, 2020 read, according to the report. The next day, thousands of voters got the robocalls.
“[I] love these robo calls… getting angry black call backs… win or lose… the black robo was a great jw [Jacob Wohl] idea,” Burkman allegedly wrote in an email after the calls were sent.
In addition to the calls, James’ office is looking to join a separate lawsuit brought against the men last year by the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights Under the Law. That suit claims the men broke several federal and state laws and wants $500 for each of the 5,500 calls placed to voters in New York state.
Wohl and Burkman pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges and are seeking to appeal a previous order in order to get the lawsuit dismissed.
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