The Federal Communications Commission has proposed that conservative operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl be ordered to pay a fine of $5,134,500 for robocalls they made discouraging mail-in voting.
FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Tuesday that Mr. Burkman and Mr. Wohl should have to pay the sum on account of having “clearly” violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The proposed enforcement would potentially resolve one of several matters involving Mr. Burkman, Mr. Wohl and the robocall made in their name. They face numerous state civil and criminal charges as well.
Before last Election Day, people in several states reported receiving a robocall that consisted of the same prerecorded message of a woman making false statements about the voting-by-mail process:
“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 safe and beware of vote by mail.”
The FCC said it determined that a total of 1,141 robocalls were made to wireless phones without prior expressed consent in violation of the TCPA and has proposed that the pair be fined $4,500 for each one.
In a news release announcing the proposed forfeiture, the FCC called it the large fine it has ever sought for a robocall that violated that TCPA, a federal law that has regulated such calls since 1991.
Mr. Wohl told The Washington Times that he would not “be deterred or discouraged” by the proposed forfeiture. Mr. Burkman did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.
Attorneys general in Michigan and Ohio brought criminal charges against both men over the robocall in late 2020. More recently, New York Attorney General Letitia James asked in May for her to state to join a civil case against both men already pending in U.S. federal court in Manhattan.
The 1,141 robocalls made to wireless phones identified by the FCC is a fraction of the total amount believed to have been placed. Ms. James has said the call was made to over 85,000 numbers nationwide.