In May people began receiving a robocall from a woman who suggested police will use information from mail-in voting to track down voters, credit card companies will use their personal info to collect outstanding debts and the CDC will use it to administer mandatory vaccines.
"Don't be finessed into giving your private information to the man," the call stated. “Stay safe and beware of vote by mail."
Michigan Sec of State Jocelyn Benson tweeted the robocall "was targeting Detroit voters using racially charged stereotypes and false information to deter voting by mail" and called it "an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote.”
LeBron James then retweeted Benson and a @morethanavote post, which stated: "They'll use every trick in the book to try to stop us from voting but we won't fall for the okey-doke. If you're in Detroit, fight back and report mess like this to [email protected]."
Soon, Benson's office was flooded with calls and emails from people who had been targeted by the false robocall. Ultimately she ascertained that 85,000 calls had gone out around the country.
“People knew it was false. They knew they were being targeted. And we were able to quickly get the word out," Benson said. "Because we've got the backing of our most influential athletes backing us up and telling people what to do if they got a phone call."
Michigan's attorney general then launched a multistate investigation, which led to felony charges being filed against two Republican operatives, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, on election law and conspiracy crimes that could bring up to 24 years in prison if they are convicted.
On Tuesday, a grand jury in Cleveland indicted Burkman and Wohl on eight counts of telecommunications fraud and seven counts of bribery in connection with 8,000 calls placed to residents in Cleveland and East Cleveland.
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