A social media influencer was convicted Friday in connection with a plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Department of Justice said.
Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was convicted of conspiracy against rights for a “scheme to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote,” the agency said.
Mackey faces up to 10 years in prison.
“Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a news release.
“Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote.”
Mackey amassed some 58,000 Twitter followers and was ranked as the 107th most important influencer ahead of the presidential election in February, 2016, by the MIT Media Lab.
Prosecutors alleged that Mackey in the months leading up to the 2016 election conspired with other influential Twitter users, among others, to spread disinformation encouraging Clinton supporters to cast invalid votes via text message or social media, the DOJ said.
In the days leading up to the election, Mackey sent tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” tweeting an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign.
The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.”
The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.”
The tweet included the “#ImWithHer” hashtag.
At least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some variant of the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.