Right-wing trolls Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman charged in alleged scheme to suppress Detroit voters


  • D M, Flickr Creative Commons
  • Jacob Wohl.

A pair of infamous far-right internet trolls have been charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel as part of an investigation into an alleged scheme to suppress voter turnout in the November general election with bogus robocalls.

According to a statement from the AG's office, Jack Burkman, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, and Jacob Wohl, 22, of Los Angeles, are accused of allegedly creating a robocall to attempt to discourage voters targeted at "certain urban areas."

That includes Detroit, where nearly 12,000 residents with 313 phone numbers received a message in late August that warns people against being "finessed into giving your private information to the man" and urges them to "beware of vote by mail."

The robocall claims, falsely, that mail-in voting will put people's personal information in a database used by police to track down old warrants and by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use the information to track people for mandatory vaccines.

You can listen to the robocall here.

Burkman and Wohl are each charged with one count of election law – intimidating voters, a five-year felony; one count of conspiracy to commit an election law violation, a five-year felony; one count of using a computer to commit the crime of election law – intimidating voters, a seven-year felony; and using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy, a seven-year felony.

The charges were filed Thursday in 36th District Court in Detroit. According to a statement, the AG's office is exploring whether extradition will be necessary.

Similar robocalls were made in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. Nessel's office says they're working with the other state Attorneys General.

"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. 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. 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."

Anyone who received the call is encouraged to contact the AG's office at 517-335-7650.

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