DETROIT – A judge has rejected a motion to quash information and dismiss a case against two men accused of orchestrating robocalls meant to discourage Michigan voters from voting by mail in the 2020 presidential election, making false claims.
According to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the case remains pending in the Third Circuit Court against Jack Burkman, 54, and Jacob Wohl, 22.
- 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
- Using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy, a seven-year felony
In a press release from the AG’s Office, Burkman and Wohl claimed in their motion and oral arguments that “the conduct did not violate Michigan’s voter intimidation law and that the robocalls were nonetheless protected by the First Amendment.”
However, Judge Margaret Van Houton rejected those arguments Tuesday.
“I think that this does not qualify as... a violation of the First Amendment in this context,” Van Houten said. “Every statement has to be viewed in and of itself. It’s not expressing an opinion, it is stating information that is misleading at very least and possibly false.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel filed charges in October against Burkman and Wohl, who are from Virginia and California respectively, for attempting to suppress votes in multiple U.S. cities -- specifically those with significant minority populations -- for the November election.
According to officials, an investigation revealed that the robocalls had been reported in Detroit and a number of other cities across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois. For Detroit, the calls specifically targeted residents -- nearly 12,000 -- with a 313 area code back in August.
Officials believe about 85,000 robocalls had been made nationally.