FCC seeks $5M fine for robocalls telling Black people that voting helps “the man”
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FCC seeks $5M fine for robocalls telling Black people that voting helps “the man”

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Enlarge / Police officers surround Jacob Wohl as he taunts protesters during a “Trump/Pence Out Now” rally at Black Lives Matter plaza August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Michael Santiago )

The Federal Communications Commission yesterday proposed a $5.1 million fine against two right-wing political operatives accused of making over 1,100 illegal robocalls. The calls were an attempt to convince people not to vote.

The recorded messages sent before the November 2020 election “told potential voters that if they voted by mail, their ‘personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts,'” the FCC said. Those messages were apparently targeted at Black voters and told them, “don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man.”

John Burkman and Jacob Wohl were already facing felony charges in Wayne County Circuit Court for “orchestrating a robocall to suppress the vote in Detroit and other cities with significant minority populations,” as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in November 2020. They were also indicted in Ohio, and New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking fines that would add up to $2.75 million.

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