The penalty, which is not final, is the largest proposed by the FCC for this specific violation. The agency has, however, imposed much larger fines for “spoofing” robocalls, where the caller makes it appear as though a call is coming from a different number. This year it fined Texas telemarketers $225 million.
Wohl and Burkman will have a chance to respond, and the penalty could require a commission vote before it is finalized.
In a phone call Tuesday, Wohl declined to say if the robocalls came from him.
“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,” he said.
Burkman called the fine “tyranny and madness.”
The FCC said Wohl and Burkman were named in the prerecorded calls and the caller ID showed Burkman’s number.
The pair were charged with four felonies in Michigan last year for allegedly intimidating voters with robocalls that spread inaccurate messages about voting by mail.
Similarly, the FCC investigation found that robocall messages sent on Aug. 26 and Sept. 14, 2020, said voting by mail would mean “personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”
Inaccurate information on the dangers of mail-in voting was a common form of misinformation in the lead-up to the 2020 election, as more people than ever planned to vote by mail because of coronavirus concerns and restrictions. President Donald Trump’s misleading tweets about the practice were the first of his posts that Twitter slapped with a warning label in May of last year.
Robocalls were a notable source of disinformation leading up to the presidential election, along with text messages and emails, in addition to visible sources of disinformation on social media.
Wohl and Burkman also duped The Washington Post last year, when the pair staged a fake FBI raid that The Post briefly reported on, then removed.