Conservative activists ordered to spend 500 hours registering voters for running a 2020 voter suppression campaign
By Devan Cole, CNN
A judge in Ohio has ordered conservative activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to spend 500 hours registering low and middle-income voters in the Washington, DC, area as punishment for carrying out a voter suppression campaign during the 2020 election.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John Sutula sentenced Wohl and Burkman to two years of probation, fined them $2,500 apiece and ordered them to wear GPS ankle monitors for the first six months of their probation, with a requirement that they be confined to their home each day from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., according to a court official. The voter registration requirement must be completed by June 2024, the official said.
Wohl and Burkman each pleaded guilty to one count of telecommunications fraud last month after authorities in Ohio accused them of running a voter suppression campaign in 2020 that relied on thousands of illegal robocalls that targeted multiple states with election misinformation. As part of the scheme, the calls falsely told recipients that voting by mail could lead to their information being used to carry out forced vaccinations, debt collection or other consequences.
“These two individuals attempted to disrupt the foundation of our democracy. Their sentence of two years’ probation and 500 hours of community work service at a voter registration drive is appropriate,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, a Democrat, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.
“We’re pleased with the outcome, and we think it’s fair given the amount of charges they were indicted with,” Mark Wieczorek, Wohl’s attorney, told CNN, adding that Wohl is “generally remorseful.”
CNN has reached out to Burkman’s attorney for comment.
The campaign by Wohl and Burkman also prompted the Federal Communications Commission to seek a $5 million fine against the two men, a record-breaking figure at the time, while states such as New York and Michigan have pursued their own charges against them.
CNN previously reported the voice on the robocall said it was sponsored by a group founded by Burkman and Wohl, who have spent years perpetrating hoaxes and false smears against Democratic politicians and opponents of former President Donald Trump.
During an interview with CNN last year, Wohl denied that he or Burkman was responsible for the misleading and racist calls and said they had learned about them only after Burkman started receiving angry messages from people who had seen his number on their caller ID.
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CNN’s Brian Fung and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.