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Right-Wing Grifters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman Receive Perfect Punishment for Racist Robocall Scheme

A closeup of an autodialer machine from an episode of The Simpsons.

Professional conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have come up with a lot of bizarre schemes in recent years, from filming a fake FBI raid on their own home (and tricking the Washington Post into writing it up) to making obviously false sexual harassment complaints against everyone from Robert Mueller to Elizabeth Warren. The fact that they’re not in prison is genuinely perplexing.

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After years of these grifts, Burkman and Wohl were finally indicted on felony charges in 2020. The scheme that finally caught up with them was a racist ploy to keep low-income Black voters from participating in the election. The two set up a massive misinformation campaign, contacting about 85,000 residents in five states via robocall. Voters heard a message from a woman who called herself Tamika (which also happens to be the name of the mother of Breonna Taylor, who had been murdered by Louisville police officers just months earlier) warning them not to vote by mail.

“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man,” the message stated. “Tamika” told voters that authorities would be using information submitted on absentee ballots to track down people with outstanding debts and arrest warrants, and even force voters into a mandatory vaccine program. None of that is true.

In September, Wohl and Burkman each pleaded guilty to a single felony telecommunications fraud charge in an Ohio court. This week, the judge sentenced the pair with a perfectly fitting punishment: 500 hours of community service, to be spent registering voters in low-income neighborhoods.

Assuming this service will be closely supervised, it really is the perfect sentence. It’s also not their only punishment. While the two avoided jail time, they were also fined $2500 each, issued two years’ probation, have an 8 pm curfew for the first six months of that time, complete with ankle monitors, and are officially convicted felons. Remember, also, that this is only their punishment from the Ohio court. They’re also facing charges in multiple other states and last year, the FCC said it wanted to slap the two with a $5 million fine.

When given the opportunity to speak in court, says Wohl said, “I just really want to express my absolute regret and shame over all of this” (Burkman literally just said he feels “the same”), which is a stark turn-around from his comments in 2021, when he tried to somehow blame Joe Biden for his crimes.

“We know that the Biden administration is desperate to distract from their complete debacle in Afghanistan and Joe’s declining mental state, but we will not be deterred or discouraged,” Wohl said in August of that year, despite being indicted when Trump was still in office.

(via, image: Fox)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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