Right-Wing Duo Slapped with $1.25M Fine for Robocall Voter Suppression Targeting Black Voters In NY

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman

Two right-wing political operatives, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, faced the brunt of legal consequences as a federal court ordered them to pay a substantial fine of $1.25 million for orchestrating a robocall campaign aimed at suppressing Black voters in New York.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced the verdict on Tuesday, marking another victory for her office in safeguarding electoral integrity.

Last March, Wohl and Burkman were found liable for transmitting false and threatening messages intended to deter Black voters in New York from exercising their franchise.

The robocalls, received by approximately 5,500 New Yorkers, disseminated misinformation alleging that voting by mail would result in personal information being shared with law enforcement agencies, debt collectors, and government entities. The fearmongering tactics inflicted severe anxiety and distress on recipients, with one voter even withdrawing their registration in response to the false claims.

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation was compelled to allocate significant resources to combat the misinformation spread by the robocalls, redirecting efforts towards dispelling the fabricated threats posed to mail-in voting.

Attorney General Letitia James emphasized the sanctity of the voting rights enshrined in democracy, vowing to uphold them against any attempts at intimidation or suppression. She condemned Wohl and Burkman’s disinformation campaign as a depraved endeavor to sway election outcomes in favor of their preferred candidate. Under the terms of the settlement, Wohl and Burkman agreed to a $1 million judgment payable to the state attorney general’s office, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and individual plaintiffs affected by their scheme. Failure to remit at least $105,000 by December 31 will result in an escalated fine of $1.25 million.

This legal triumph adds to Attorney General James’ track record of prosecuting electoral misconduct. Previously, she filed a lawsuit against Wohl and Burkman in May 2021 following investigations into their violations of state and federal laws.

Operating under the guise of their fictitious organization, “Project 1599,” the duo propagated robocalls laden with disinformation targeting Black communities across multiple states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Furthermore, Wohl and Burkman faced criminal repercussions in Ohio, where they pleaded guilty to telecommunications fraud in 2022. As part of their sentence, a state judge mandated them to dedicate 500 hours to registering low and middle-income Americans to vote.

The robocalls, purportedly voiced by a woman identifying herself as Tamika Taylor from “Project 1599,” invoked the name of Breonna Taylor, a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. This exploitation of Taylor’s name in conjunction with false claims aimed at manipulating Black voters underscores the egregiousness of Wohl and Burkman’s actions.

The legal battle against voter suppression tactics continues as authorities remain vigilant in safeguarding the democratic process from nefarious actors seeking to undermine its integrity.

Attorney General James’ relentless pursuit of justice serves as a testament to the commitment towards upholding the fundamental right to vote, irrespective of attempts to subvert it.