Conservative activists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, along with J.M. Burkman & Associates, will be fined $5.1 million for their roles in 1,141 robocalls that were made before the 2020 election, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The calls went to people in several states from Aug. 26 and Sept. 14, 2020, including in Ohio, Michigan, and New York, where potential voters were told if they voted by mail their information would be made "part of a public database" that police departments would use to track down old warrants and credit card companies would use to collect debts, NBC News reported.
State prosecutors said the calls were made in an attempt to suppress the Black vote, and identified Burkman and Wohl.
Burkman and Wohl, said to have been involved in several plans targeting former President Donald Trump's opponents, have since then pleaded guilty to one count each of telecommunications fraud. According to the FCC, they were sentenced to community service that included registering voters in low-income and minority communities.
The fine, announced this week, "emphasizes the seriousness with which we take our obligations to protect American consumers, and in this instance American voters, from being targeted through the clear and illegal misuse of U.S. communications networks," FCC Enforcement Chief Loyaan Egal said in a news release.
"We commend our law enforcement partners for bringing Burkman and Wohl to justice for their actions, and we will continue our efforts to make it clear that there are significant consequences for engaging in this type of conduct," Egal added.
The proposed fine at the time was the largest ever by agency for a violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The FCC agreed unanimously to set the fine.
According to an investigation by the FCC Enforcement Bureau, the robocalls went to consumers' cellphones and were pre-recorded, and they were conducted without "required prior consent."
Burkman and Wohl argued in 2021, when the FCC proposed the fine, that the companies they hired to make the calls were responsible for any violations, and that the political calls had been exempt from the restrictions in the Telephone Consumer Protect Act.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.