A pair of infamous trolls who have advocated on behalf of Donald Trump have been hit with a fine from federal authorities at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) totaling over $5.1 million.
Those now responsible for paying up include Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, whose other prominent actions include nonsense like trying to push faked allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent political opponents of theirs. Those opponents include figures like Robert Mueller, the former prosecutor.
The financial penalties are connected to a series of robocalls made on the pair’s behalf in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election. The prerecorded messages aired to those who received these calls contained falsehoods about voting in the 2020 race, including that voting by mail would make individuals’ identifying details especially vulnerable for use in executing outstanding warrants and collecting lingering debts. The calls targeted marginalized communities who might’ve been expected to cast their votes largely for Democrats.
During the 2020 elections, many more people than normal were also turning to mail-in voting in general because of concerns around the spread of COVID-19, which burst into prominence just months before voting in the general elections got underway and led to a massive surge in absentee votes.
As recapped by the FCC, Burkman and Wohl presented a series of attempts at a defense as they sought to evade these financial penalties, a list of excuses including trying to push responsibility onto third-party companies whose dialing services they used. They also argued that political communications such as they made are exempt from the relevant legal standards. “However, as the Commission has previously stated, the mere fact that a calling campaign is political in nature does not protect the caller from liability under Commission rules,” the FCC said Tuesday. The agency also stated that if Wohl and Burkman failed to satisfy their financial obligations the matter would be transferred to the federal Department of Justice to seek the restitution.