Far-right operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman pleaded guilty to felony telecommunications fraud yesterday. According to Cleveland.com, the pair "placed thousands of robocalls with false information to largely minority and Democratic voters in Cleveland in the months before the November 2020 election." They face up to a year in state prison.
The two were charged in October 2020 after prosecutors said their group, Project 1599, placed more than 3,500 robocalls that spread misinformation to targeted voters on Cleveland's East Side and in East Cleveland.
The calls featured a woman warning voters against being "finessed into giving your private information to the man" and that if they voted by mail, police and debt-collection agencies would use their personal information to arrest them for outstanding warrants or collect outstanding debts, according to court filings. The call also claimed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control could use their information to institute a mandatory vaccination program.
Both claims are false.
Wohl and Burkman are notorious for orchestrating laughably ineffective smear campaigns against politicians and government employees who stray from MAGA ideology. They accused Robert Mueller of sexual harassment, Elizabeth Warren of having an affair, Ilhan Omar of incest, and Pete Buttigieg of rape. They also tried to defame Anthony Fauci with a phony sexual assault claim.
From The Cut:
For their most recent stunt, the pair reportedly hired a woman to say that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had attempted to assault her in a hotel in 2014. This scheme fell apart, in a typically Wohlian fashion, after the woman in question reached out to a journalist to say Wohl and Burkman had paid her to make the claim, and that it was untrue.
Wohl and Burkman's troubles are far from over. From The Washington Post:
The men have been sued in federal court in New York City and face a $5.1 million fine levied by the Federal Communications Commission. Wohl and Burkman are appealing criminal charges filed against them in Detroit stemming from a similar bogus robocall scheme targeting Black voters.