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Burkman, Wohl Heading to Wayne County Circuit Court for Voter-Suppression Robocalls
November 05, 2020
LANSING – Two men accused of orchestrating a robocall to suppress the vote in Detroit and other cities with significant minority populations have been bound over to circuit court on multiple felony election law charges, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.
Arlington, Virginia, residents Jack Burkman, 54, and Jacob Wohl, 22, are scheduled to appear in Wayne County Circuit Court on Nov. 12. They were bound over following a hearing last week before Judge Kenneth King in 36th District Court in Detroit.
They are each charged with:
- Election law – intimidating voters, a felony punishable by up to five years;
- Conspiracy to commit an election law violation, a felony punishable by up to five years;
- Using a computer to commit the crime of election law – intimidating voters, a felony punishable by up to seven years; and
- Using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy, a felony punishable by up to seven years.
In a civil lawsuit, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation et al v. Wohl et al, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week ordered Burkman and Wohl to make “curative” robocalls to anyone who received the robocall the two allegedly orchestrated in August. Although they missed the original deadline, the curative robocall went out Oct. 30.
Attorney General Nessel’s office filed criminal charges Oct. 1 alleging Burkman and Wohl attempted to deter voters from participating in Tuesday’s general election by disseminating a robocall targeted at certain areas, including Detroit and other major U.S. cities with significant minority populations. The robocalls were made in late August and went out to nearly 12,000 residents in the Detroit area.
The caller, who claims to be associated with Project 1599 – an organization founded by Burkman and Wohl – falsely tells people that mail-in voting, in particular, will allow personal information to become part of a special database used by police to track down old warrants and by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts. The caller also deceptively claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use the information to track people for mandatory vaccines. However, none of the claims made in the robocall are true.
Anyone who received this call on or about Aug. 26 and wishes to file a complaint about it is encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s office by calling 517-335-7650.
Information callers may be asked to provide in their complaint will include:
- Complainant’s name, address and contact information;
- Date and time of when the robocall was received;
- Phone number of the line where the call was received;
- Number displayed on caller ID when the call was received;
- Whether the robocall went to voicemail or was answered live;
- The complainant’s recollection of the robocall content and their thoughts about the call;
- Whether the complainant is and has been a Michigan resident for six months or more; and
- Whether the complainant is a registered voter or is eligible to vote.
The Wayne County Circuit Court has announced that it will suspend jury trials, bench trials and evidentiary hearings until January; however, Burkman and Wohl’s Nov. 12 appearance is not expected to be impacted by the Court’s decision and will likely be held through videoconferencing.