2 men charged with intimidating election robocalls in Michigan, four other states

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Image Source: PxHere / MGN(KALB)
Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 5:54 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Two men from out of state are facing Michigan election law charges after they allegedly sent a series of intimidating robocalls to thousands of people in the Detroit area and other urban centers in the U.S.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced charges Thursday against a 54-year-old man from Virginia and a 22-year-old man from California, who she described as political operatives. Both are facing up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Michigan authorities are working with law enforcement agencies in Virginia and California to bring the suspects to a Detroit courtroom for arraignment.

Both men are accused of creating and paying for a robocall that went out to residents in urban areas, including Detroit, in late August. Nessel said the calls tried to suppress the voter in the November election by making a number of false claims about mailing in absentee ballots.

She said the caller false claimed that people who vote by mail are entered into a police database to track down old warrants and outstanding credit card debts. The call allegedly also claimed falsely that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses mail-in voting information to track down people for mandatory vaccines.

Nessel said nearly 12,000 residents in Michigan received the calls, which originated from a number in Detroit’s 313 area code. Attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois also received word about similar calls in urban areas of their states.

“Any effort to interfere with, intimidate or intentionally mislead Michigan voters will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Nessel said. “This effort specifically targeted minority voters in an attempt to deter them from voting in the November election. We’re all well aware of the frustrations caused by the millions of nuisance robocalls flooding our cell phones and landlines each day, but this particular message poses grave consequences for our democracy and the principles upon which it was built."

Anyone who received the robocall around Aug. 26 and who wants to file a complaint can call the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at 517-335-7650.

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