KEY POINTS

  • Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were ordered to call victims of their misinformation campaign and admit their statement were false
  • They face felony charges across the U.S., both for this scheme and for securities fraud in Wohl's case
  • The two are best known for their elaborate plans to bring down political opponents with fabricated accusations of sexual impropriety

Right-wing hoaxsters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have been ordered by a Michigan court to call back the victims of their robocall disinformation campaign to explain that their claims were false. 

Their scheme targeted communities of color and Democratic strongholds, placing 8,100 calls telling voters mail-in ballots could result in warrants, debt collectors, and even “mandatory vaccines.” They reached 3,400 active numbers, Salon reports.

full transcript of the calls has circulated online. 

"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 by 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," the phone message says.

Wohl and Burkman were charged with four felonies carrying a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison, but for now they were only ordered to correct their harm. The judge likened their plan to the voter suppression of the KKK.

“The means defendants use to intimidate voters, though born of fear and similarly powered by hate, are not guns, torches, burning crosses, and other dire methods perpetrated under the cover of white hoods,” Judge Victor Marrero wrote. “Rather, defendants carry out electoral terror using telephones, computers, and modern technology adapted to serve the same deleterious ends.”

Burkman’s attorney said that the calls were protected speech and called the charges an “absolute atrocity.”

The Ohio trial is ongoing and Wohl and Burkman face an array of felony charges across the U.S. for both this scheme and securities fraud in Wohl’s case. 

Despite the splash their charges have made, the hoaxsters are best known for elaborate and yet-unsuccessful attempts to bring down political opponents with fabricated accusations of sexual impropriety. Past targets have included special counsel Robert Mueller, as well as former presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.