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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a lesbian, announced Thursday she has filed felony charges against conservative hoaxers Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman — who have a history of deceit and unscrupulous dealings — for misleading robocalls discouraging Michigan residents from voting by mail.
Nessel said in a statement the robocalls, which were made in Black-majority areas around Detroit, go above and beyond those “flooding our cell phones and landlines each day” in a battleground state for the 2020 election.
“Any effort to interfere with, intimidate or intentionally mislead Michigan voters will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Nessel said in a statement. “This effort specifically targeted minority voters in an attempt to deter them from voting in the November election.”
The message discouraging voting by mail, Nessel said, “poses grave consequences for our democracy and the principles upon which it was built.”
“Michigan voters are entitled to a full, free and fair election in November and my office will not hesitate to pursue those who jeopardize that,” Nessel.
Wohl, 22, and Burkman, 54, are charged with four felony counts: One count of intimidating voters under election law; one count of conspiracy to commit an election law violation; one count of using a computer to commit to intimidate voters against election law; and using a computer to commit a crime of conspiracy.
The two face five years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine for intimidating voters, plus a $10,000 fine for conspiracy to commit that crime, while they face an additional seven years in prison and/or $5,000 for using a computer to commit those crimes, according to the charging papers.
The charges were filed Thursday in the 36th District Court in Detroit, where a judge found probable cause to support them, according to the Associated Press. Arraignment is pending for Wohl and Burkman.
Nessel said her office intends to work with local law enforcement if needed to secure the appearance of each defendant in Michigan, although it’s too early to say if formal extradition will be needed or if the two will voluntarily present themselves.
The robocalls allegedly created and funded by Wohl and Burkman, Nessel said, were targeted at nearly 12,000 residents in the Detroit-area urban in late August. The attorney general had previously warned Michigan residents of the calls at that time.
An audio recording of the robocall provided by Nessel’s office features a caller who sounds like a Black female who claims to be associated with an organization founded by Burkman and Wohl.
The caller, in a false claim according to Nessel’s office, tells people mail-in voting will allow their personal information to become part of a database used by police to track down old warrants and by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.
“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man,” the caller warns. “Stay safe and be aware of vote by mail.”
The caller also says, in another false claim according to Nessel’s office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use mail-in voting information to track people for mandatory vaccines.
But the calls aren’t limited to Michigan. In working with state attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, the Michigan attorney general found other states reported similar robocalls — around 85,000 made nationally — to urban areas with significant minority populations, according to a news statement.
Claims made in the call against mail-in voting are consistent with dubious complaints from President Trump, who has said publicly the system is rife with fraud, despite assurances from experts the voting system is sound.
Trump, who has suggested he wouldn’t accept the results of an election decided by mail-in ballots, has said explicitly said he’d might have to take up the results in the federal court. Trump also said declined to say he’d allow for a peaceful transition of power as result of the election.
Both Wohl — who has been banned for life from Twitter, but still communicates via his Instagram account and has an OnlyFans page — and Burkman have a long history of nefarious dealings aimed at protecting Trump and getting him re-elected.
An attempt to smear FBI investigator Robert Mueller with false sexual harassment charges was exposed, as well as a similar attempt to defame Anthony Fauci. The two made dubious accusations in the Democratic primary about against sexual impropriety against female candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
Wohl and Burkman also reportedly sought to get a male student to make up charges Pete Buttigieg had sexually assaulted them, but the effort was exposed by the Daily Beast and went no where.
The Washington Blade has reached out to Wohl for comment on the charges. Burkman couldn’t be reached for a request to comment.
In August, Wohl said they suspected “leftist pranksters” were behind the robocalls because recipients were shown a caller ID that was Burkman’s mobile number, according to the AP. Burkman was quoted as saying the situation is “a joke” and threatening to sue for defamation.
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