New York AG Intervenes in Voter Intimidation Robocall Lawsuit

In a press release issued last Thursday, New York state’s chief law enforcement officer Letitia James announced that her office was granted permission to participate in a case brought by robocalling victims and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation against two well-known conspiracy theorists who orchestrated a voter intimidation scheme last year. The attorney general’s complaint asserts that the two principal defendants, lobbyists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, coordinated a large-scale robocall campaign to “spread disinformation, suppress voter turnout, and otherwise interfere in the 2020 election.”

Prior to joining the lawsuit, James’s office purportedly conducted an investigation which concluded that Wohl and Burkman violated state and federal civil and voting rights laws. The pair reportedly reached 85,000 households nationwide, 5,500 of which were in New York. According to the filing, the men did so through their sham organization “Project 1599,” and Message Communications Inc., a California-based business that broadcasted the robocalls.

The content of the automated messages, the attorney general explains, not only contained “blatant lies” that mail-in voters would have their personal information disseminated to law enforcement, debt collectors, and the government, but also “traded on racist stereotypes intended to intimidate and otherwise discourage Black voters from using absentee or mail-in ballots.” E-mails reprinted in the complaint also reportedly showed racial animus on part of Wohl and Burkman.

The complaint states six counts of voting and civil rights law violations against Wohl, Burkman, and others. The suit, initially filed in October 2020, is proceeding before Judge Victor Marrero in the Southern District of New York.