Blundering right-wing provocateurs Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman — who became briefly notorious for their clumsy attempts to smear prominent Democrats with phony sex scandals — have somehow found a way to land themselves in even deeper legal hot water. On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office had filed a motion to join a federal lawsuit stemming from Wohl and Burkman's racist robocall scheme targeting Black voters in urban areas ahead of the 2020 election.
According to a press release from James' office on Thursday, Wohl and Burkman allegedly reached around 5,500 New Yorkers with their deceptive calls, and thereby had "violated state and federal laws by orchestrating robocalls to threaten and harass Black communities through disinformation, including claims that mail-in voters would have their personal information disseminated to law enforcement, debt collectors, and the government."
The statement from the attorney general's office offered an example of what the robocalls told New York voters:
Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. 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 home safe and beware of vote by mail.
James went on to add in the statement that Burkman and Wohl "used misinformation to try to disenfranchise Black communities ahead of the election, in a clear attempt to sway the election in the favor of their preferred presidential candidate ... no voter should ever be subjected to such harassment or intimidation when exercising their fundamental right to vote."
Wohl and Burkman's legal counsel in Michigan, Scott Grabel and William Amadeo of Grabel & Associates, didn't return Salon's request for comment on Thursday regarding the new legal challenge. Burkman also didn't return numerous requests for comment.
When Wohl was reached for comment by Salon, he claimed he didn't know anything about the New York motion. "I don't have any comment on that," Wohl said. "I am not aware of it. I will have to get back to you."
A member of Burkman's family told Salon that [Burkman] "is just playing Russian roulette with the balance of his life."
A different individual close to Burkman who has worked at his property in Arlington, Virginia, put it more succinctly. "Lol, they are f*cked," that person told Salon, with "they" evidently referring to Burkman and Wohl.
Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer pointed out that if the pair is found liable in the federal lawsuit, James was positioned to collect nearly $2.75 million on behalf of New York state, with the duo potentially ordered to hand over all money earned from sending out their dubious robocalls to the government.
If the New York attorney general succeeds, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman would owe $2.75 million, on top of their potential prison time in other states. https://t.co/kREKaaAp5q
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) May 6, 2021
James' office is also seeking the following relief, outlined in the Thursday press release:
- Prohibiting Wohl, Burkman, Burkman & Associates, and Project 1599 from further engaging or undertaking in harassing and discriminatory voter intimidation;
- Requiring Mahanian and Message Communications to establish policies and procedures to prevent unlawful, discriminatory, and intimidating robocalls directed at voters;
- Forfeiting all profits or payments made to the defendants as part of the robocall campaign; and
- Requiring defendants to pay a penalty of up to $500 for each violation of the state law prohibiting New Yorkers from being subject to any discrimination in their civil rights.
With more legal concerns crashing down on Wohl and Burkman, they must also fight legal actions stemming from the robocall scheme in numerous Midwestern states, including Michigan and Ohio, where both have been arraigned on felony charges, including several related to fraud. In an earlier appearance in court, while defending themselves without a professional attorney present, they admitted to the scheme.
Additional court documents that came to light last October shed light on Burkman and Wohl's motives and ambitions. "We should send it to black neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Richmond, Atlanta, and Cleveland," Wohl emailed Burkman on Aug. 25, 2020, according to The Daily Dot. Burkman responded to Wohl's email, writing, "I love these robo calls … getting angry black call backs … win or lose ... the black robo was a great jw [Jacob Wohl] idea."
Despite facing a tangle of civil and criminal charges, Wohl appeared blasé when asked multiple times by Salon if he was concerned about the prospect of millions in legal penalties and possible prison time. "Nope, there are still no legal concerns," Wohl declared with a chuckle.
Alberto Gonzales, a former attorney general under President George W. Bush, shredded Arizona Republicans for pursuing an audit of the 2020 election that includes trying to detect nefarious Chinese influence by searching for bamboo-based ballots.
Appearing on CNN Friday, Gonzales told host John Berman that his party needed to stop trying to relitigate the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump decisively lost to President Joe Biden.
"At some point it has to stop," he said. "Again, there have been countless recounts, multiple challenges, over 60 challenges in our courts, multiple statements, confirmations by Republican state officials at the highest level about the integrity of the elections within their respective states. It's got to stop, John."
Berman also asked Gonzales what he made of Trump supporters' desperate search for bamboo ballots.
"It sounds pretty incredible, doesn't it?" he laughed. "Again, people can say anything they want. I guess we can do investigations day after day after day after day, hoping to find something."
The Arizona "audit," which is taking place with Trump's enthusiastic support, is being conducted by partisan operatives, including one man who participated in the January 6th MAGA riots at the United States Capitol building.
Watch the video below.
'It's got to stop': Former Bush AG slams Arizona GOP's crackpot vote 'audit' www.youtube.com
In an interview with CBS correspondent Major Garrett for "The Takeout" podcast, presidential historian Jon Meacham lamented the accelerated decline of the Republican Party following the one-term presidency of Donald Trump and wondered if the party will ever return to its principles.
With the GOP undergoing an internal civil war centering on allegiance to Trump that looks to be leading to the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from a leadership position, Meacham said the loudest voices in the Republican Party have become untethered from reality.
Noting that the Republican Party "has descended into fantasy, conspiracy and falsehoods," Meacham claimed the GOP was poised to lose touch by focusing on hot-button cultural issues and that Trump showed them the way.
"There was a lot of gasoline on the garage floor of the Republican Party, and Trump was a match," Meacham explained. "And that gasoline, I believe, is partly spilled partly because of almost 90 years of a kind of growing disenchantment with the way Republican presidents actually delivered for their conservative base."
The historian focused on the Jan 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and marveled at Republican officeholders who have dismissed it as old news when not questioning how bad it really was.
"We came as close to losing the country as we know it on January 6 as we have since the Civil War. And I say that with no hyperbole," he elaborated while noting one capitol rioter was able to flaunt the Confederate flag inside the U.S. Capitol and pointing out, "The Confederates didn't even get into the Capitol during the Civil War, but they did three months ago."
The historian also warned that race relations in the country appear to be getting worse, telling the CBS host, "We have not seen the last of the White reaction and backlash to a changing demographic and country."
You can read more here.
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