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Monday, July 26, 2021

NY AG Says Right-Wing Operatives Discussed Targeting ‘Black Neighborhoods’ With Voter Suppression Scheme

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New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against notorious right-wing operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman after an investigation by her office uncovered emails between the two discussing explicit plans to target black neighborhoods with robocalls discouraging mail-in voting.

Key Facts

Wohl and Burkman have previously denied masterminding the robocall campaign, but James’ motion alleges Burkman left several voicemails to a telecommunications company seeking to “buy some” robocalls aimed at suppressing voter turnout, as well as a series of checks to the company with subjects like “Robo call.”

The motion also includes a graphic of an August email from Wohl to Burkman stating, “Attached is the audio file for the robo call” and “We should send it to black neighborhoods” of swing-state cities including Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland.

Burkman allegedly told Wohl in an email the following day he was “getting angry black call backs” and that “the black robo call was a great jw” – presumably referring to Wohl – “idea,” which the motion points to as evidence of “racial animus.”

The lawsuit, originally brought by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, seeks to have Wohl and Burkman pay up to $500 for “each violation of New York Civil Rights Law” committed against New Yorkers.

Forbes has reached out to Wohl for comment.

Crucial Quote

“Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burman and Jacob Wohl,” reads a transcript of the robocall containing numerous false statements about mail-in voting. These include claims that mail-in ballots will be “used by police departments to track down old warrants,” “credit card companies to collect outstanding debts,” and the Centers for Disease Control to “track people for mandatory vaccines.”

Big Number

85,309. That’s how approximately phone numbers the robocalls were sent to, including 5,500 with New York area codes, according to the motion. However, Wohl’s lawyers have argued just 7% of the calls actually “made a connection to either an answering machine or live person.”

Key Background

Wohl and Burkman, notorious for a string of bungled schemes aimed at undermining Democratic politicians, were previously ordered by a New York judge to send out a robocall correcting the false claims in their previous one. In addition to the New York civil suit, they face criminal charges in both Ohio and Michigan, two swing states where voters were targeted.

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