A judge ordered two notorious conservative tricksters who made a barrage of robocalls to deter black voters from casting ballots to call them back — and admit interference in the presidential election.
Judge Victor Marrero compared Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman’s campaign of “electoral terror” to the darkest days of the Ku Klux Klan.
He ordered the two to prove they’d made the follow-up robocalls by Thursday at 5 p.m. or face contempt of court charges.
“The means defendants use to intimidate voters, though born of fear and similarly powered by hate, are not guns, torches, burning crosses, and other dire methods perpetrated under the cover of white hoods. Rather, defendants carry out electoral terror using telephones, computers, and modern technology adapted to serve the same deleterious ends,” Marrero wrote, not hiding his disgust in a 66-page ruling.
“This court finds that the information defendants’ calls convey is manifestly false and meant to intimidate citizens from exercising voting rights.”
Wohl and Burkman already face criminal charges in Michigan and Ohio for robocalls allegedly intended to deter people from voting. Marrero’s ruling came in a civil suit brought by the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation, which alleged a similar scheme targeting some 85,000 people living in black neighborhoods of Illinois, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
The National Coalition sued Wohl and Burkman under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which sought to protect black people who had just won the right to vote from abuse at the polls.
“Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay safe and beware of vote by mail,” the robocall states.
Marrero wrote the recipients of the first message must receive a follow-up declaring it false.
“At the direction of a United States district court, this call is intended to inform you that a federal court has found that the message you previously received regarding mail-in voting from Project 1599, a political organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, contained false information that has had the effect of intimidating voters, and thus interfering with the upcoming presidential election, in violation of federal voting-rights laws,” the court-ordered follow-up reads.
Wohl and Burkman’s legal argument that the bogus claims in the robocalls were protected by the First Amendment was a “fundamental threat to democracy,” Marrero wrote.
“The First Amendment cannot confer on anyone a license to inflict purposeful harm on democratic society or offer refuge for wrongdoers seeking to undermine bedrock constitutional principles. Nor can it serve as a weapon they wield to bring about our democracy’s self-destruction,” the judge’s ruling read.
Wohl and Burkman, who acted as their own attorneys during a hearing on Monday, insisted no robocalls had been made since they were charged in state courts. They’ve since hired an attorney, who declined comment.
Wohl also faces criminal charges in California for violations of securities laws. Wohl and Burkman have made botched attempts to smear former special counsel Robert Mueller with a sexual assault accusation and former Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg as a sexual predator, among other disinformation campaigns.
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