Notorious Right-Wing Hoaxers Charged for Alleged False Voter Robocalls

FILE - In this April 15, 2018, file photo, Dana Nessel, candidate for state attorney general, speaks to 14th District Delegates at the 2018 State Endorsement Convention of the Michigan Democratic Party at Cobo Center, in Detroit. Nessel told The Associated Press that voters want an attorney general to protect the state from federal policies that could hurt them. She said Michigan's large Arab population is vulnerable to President Donald Trump's restrictions on travel from certain Muslim-majority countries and his administration's plan to add a question to the 2020 U.S. Census on citizenship status. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP, File)

It appears that two well-known right-leaning hoaxers might finally get their comeuppance. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, are facing felony counts for a variety of offenses related to allegedly attempting to influence the 2020 election. 

Attorney General Dana Nessel told the Associated Press that the two men “each face four felony counts in Detroit, including conspiring to intimidate voters in violation of election law and using a computer to commit crimes.”

The charges are related to robocalls allegedly set up by the duo to deceptively persuade voters not to cast their votes by mail. The Associated Press reported that “the calls falsely warned residents in majority-Black Detroit and urban areas in at least four other states that voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election could subject people to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination.” 

Neither Wohl nor Burkman has been taken into custody yet, and there is no date set for their arraignment. Nessel mentioned that her office would work with local law enforcement to ensure that they appear in court when a date is set. 

A judge determined on Thursday that there is probable cause to support the filing of the charges. If convicted, the two men could face years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The Associated Press pointed out that “the computer charges carry up to seven years apiece while election law violations could bring up to five in all.

The attorney general’s office sent out warnings to the public, letting them know about the fraudulent calls, and launched the investigation in late August after thousands of residents received them. Wohl and Burkman have both denied the allegations. 

Nessel shared that the robocalls were explicitly designed to prevent minority voters from participating in the November election. 

“We’re all well aware of the frustrations caused by the millions of nuisance robocalls flooding our cellphones and landlines each day, but this particular message poses grave consequences for our democracy and the principles upon which it was built,” the attorney general said. “Michigan voters are entitled to a full, free and fair election in November, and my office will not hesitate to pursue those who jeopardize that.”

The attorney general’s office believes that tens of thousands of these calls were made across the nation. 

From the Associated Press:

“Nessel said 85,000 calls were believed to have been made across the nation. She said nearly 12,000 residents in the 313 ZIP code received the calls in Detroit, and that similar calls also blanketed urban pockets of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and New York. And she encouraged anyone who received such a call to file a complaint with her office.”

On the robocalls, a female caller identified herself as part of Project 1559, a group founded by Wohl and Burkman. She falsely claimed that voting by mail could result in the voter’s personal information being sent to a database used by law enforcement to follow up on old warrants, credit card companies to collect debate, and federal agencies impose mandatory vaccines. 

“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man,” the caller said. “Beware of vote by mail.”

Wohl and Burkman are known for concocting various schemes designed to smear President Donald Trump’s political opponents. In once instance, they attempted to use false allegations of sexual misconduct against Robert Mueller and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. A woman and man came forward and told authorities that the duo tried to pay them to make false allegations against Mueller and Buttigieg. 

These two men are considered fringe figures on the right, and they receive no support from mainstream conservatives. Indeed, it is clear that the duo’s antics have only given the left fodder for criticism of the right, even though they do not represent the conservative movement. If they are guilty, hopefully, their punishment will prevent them from continuing to cast people on the right in a bad light. Judging by their actions, it seems they do not care that they do more to help the left than to benefit the right. 

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