James wins lawsuit against conspiracy theorists using threatening robocalls to intimidate Black voters

New York Attorney General Letitia James
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a ceremony where Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a package of bills to strengthen gun laws, Monday, June 6, 2022, in New York.
Associated Press/Mary Altaffer

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday, March 8 welcomed a federal judge’s ruling in her favor in a lawsuit against Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, two notorious conspiracy theorists for their efforts to suppress Black voters ahead of the 2020 election.

“Your vote is your voice, and I am proud that today the court ruled in our favor to uphold the most important cornerstone of our democracy,” James said. “Wohl and Burkman engaged in a disgraceful campaign to intimidate Black voters, using threats and lies to keep them from making their voices heard in an attempt to secure the election for their preferred presidential candidate.

“I will always stand fierce in defense of New Yorkers’ right to vote, and anyone who attempts to take away that right will be met with the full force of the law,” she added.

Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against Wohl and Burkman in May 2021 after an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that Wohl and Burkman, while hiding behind their sham organization “Project 1599,” violated state and federal laws by orchestrating robocalls to threaten and harass Black communities through disinformation, including claims that mail-in voters would have their personal information disseminated to law enforcement, debt collectors and the government.

She said that the Wohl and Burkman robocall campaign, which reached about 5,500 New Yorkers, sought to undermine and interfere with the then-ongoing efforts by the state of New York to fairly and safely administer its elections during the COVID-19 crisis, and protect its citizens from voter intimidation and harassment.

The attorney general said damages and relief will be determined at a later date.

In August 2022, James announced a settlement with robocalling platform Message Communications for its role in sending out the illegal robocall designed by Wohl and Burkman.

The OAG litigated this case alongside co-plaintiffs comprised of voters who received the robocall and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, all of whom are being represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.