Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Operatives to pay $1.25M over 2020 robocalls targeting Black voters

 Jack Burkman, the lobbyist who has put a sizable donation to solve the murder of Seth Rich, canvasses the neighborhood of the murder on January, 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.

Lobbyist Jack Burkman in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Two right-wing operatives have agreed to pay up to $1.25 million over a robocall campaign aimed at preventing Black New Yorkers from voting by mail in the 2020 election, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

The big picture: The settlement agreement comes after Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were found liable by a federal judge in New York in March 2023 for targeting some 5,500 Black voters and transmitting "false and threatening" messages intended to discourage voting.

  • The pair were previously fined $5 million by the FCC and pleaded guilty to related charges in Ohio, for which they were each fined $2,500 and sentenced to two years probation and 500 hours of community service.

Zoom in: The robocalls included false claims that the CDC was "pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines," per a statement from James' office.

  • "Wohl and Burkman orchestrated a depraved and disinformation-ridden campaign to intimidate Black voters in an attempt to sway the election in favor of their preferred candidate," said James, who filed a lawsuit against the pair in 2021, in a statement.
  • "Now they will pay up to $1.25 million to my office, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and the individuals who were harmed by their scheme."

What they're saying: "Our clients are pleased that we have entered into an amicable settlement with the plaintiffs," said David Schwartz, an attorney for Wohl and Burkman, in a statement to media.

  • "The settlement is still pending the court's approval and our clients are pleased to put this case behind them, so they can focus on their families and careers."
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