The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially fined right-wing influencer Jacob Wohl $5 million. At the time it was proposed, it was the largest amount ever under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Wohl, along with his partner Jack Burkman, used robocalls to attempt to convince people of color that they could be arrested if they voted by mail in the 2020 presidential election. Voting by mail was a popular option in that election, as the country was still being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FCC’s decision unanimously agreed to the $5,134,500 amount.
The calls, which were directed at voters in Ohio, a swing state, said that “personal information” could be put in a public database if people voted by mail, “used by police departments to track down old warrants.”
The duo also claimed debt collectors would have access to the information, all in an attempt to help swing the state toward former President Donald Trump, as voters of color were more likely to break for President Joe Biden.
In their defense to the FCC, Burkman and Wohl argued that they should not be held liable for the calls, but rather the provider they used.
However, the FCC, which investigating the case, found emails that “show Burkman and Wohl directing the dialing companies on specific details of the calling campaigns such as which zip codes to call, pricing, and other matters related to the robocalling campaign.”
According to the FCC, if Wohl and Burkman don’t pay, the case could be transferred to the Justice Department.
Wohl and Burkman also faced criminal charges for the scheme in Ohio, where they were sentenced to 500 hours of community service, and required to register voters in low-income communities.