The office of the Attorney General of Michigan announced felony charges on Thursday against far-right conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, saying the world’s least dynamic pro-Trump duo was behind tens of thousands of robocalls attempting to intimidate voters. If convicted on all four counts, they could face a max sentence of 24 years in prison.
AG Dana Nessel’s office referred to Wohl and Burkman as “political operatives,” but to be absolutely clear, they are not good ones. Readers may remember Wohl and Burkman from their previous greatest hits, such as attempts to frame Special Counsel Robert Mueller (and more recently, Pete Buttigieg and Dr. Anthony Fauci) of rape, claiming shoe company Adidas secretly employs a network of gang members to beat up family members of sports players, and numerous press conferences in which they trotted out random patsies to claim they had kinky sex with Democratic politicians.
Wohl, who as a teenage hudge funder was banned for life by the National Futures Association for scamming clients, was arraigned in California on two charges of security fraud earlier this year. He is also reportedly the target of an FBI investigation over the Mueller hoax, in which he posed as “Matthew Cohen,” the head of a fake security firm named “Surefire Intelligence.” (Wohl’s LinkedIn headshot for “Cohen” was a poorly edited photo of himself.) Burkman is a D.C. lobbyist who alarmingly still has dozens of clients. He falsely claimed to have dozens of legislators committed to a bill to ban gays. Burkman was also once shot in the ass by a private investigator he had hired to hunt for the murderer of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich. Burkman didn’t crack the case.
According to the Michigan AG’s office, Wohl and Burkman enacted a scheme to suppress the Black/minority vote by robocalling “nearly 12,000 residents with phone numbers from the 313 area code” (Detroit), threatening that voting by mail could lead to arrest, debt collection, and forced vaccination. The AG’s office also said it believes the racist calls may have been placed to around 85,000 people nationwide.
The AG also released a sample of the calls, in which a woman using the name “Tomika Taylor” claimed to be calling on behalf of a “civil rights organization” run by Wohl and Burkman:
Hi. This is Tomika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used for credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the Man. Stay safe and beware of vote by mail.
Gizmodo is professionally obligated to explain that those claims are false.
A Twitter account using the Project 1599 name, registered in October 2019, has sent out posts like, “Sources tell 1599 that #RBG has been dead for months,” “Antifa started the wildfires,” and “Wow! Sources tell 1599 the Chicago White Sox are considering dropping ‘white’ from their name.” It’s also tweeted numerous racist and/or misogynistic comments. Gizmodo didn’t bother to look further into the matter.
Wohl and Burkman each face a charge of voter intimidation and a charge of conspiring to violate election law, which both carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. They also face charges of using a computer to intimidate voters and using a computer to commit conspiracy, both punishable by up to seven years in prison.
No word on whether they plan to blame the computer.
“Any effort to interfere with, intimidate or intentionally mislead Michigan voters will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Nessel wrote in the press release. “This effort specifically targeted minority voters in an attempt to deter them from voting in the November election. We’re all well aware of the frustrations caused by the millions of nuisance robocalls flooding our cell phones and landlines each day, but this particular message poses grave consequences for our democracy and the principles upon which it was built.”
The AG’s office is asking anyone who received the robocall around Aug. 26 to contact them and file a complaint at 517-335-7650.