Far-right influencer sentenced to 7 months in 2016 voter suppression scheme
Oct 18, 2023, 12:24 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — A right-wing social media influencer was sentenced to seven months in federal prison on Wednesday for spreading falsehoods via Twitter, now known as X, in an effort to suppress Democratic turnout in the 2016 presidential election.
Douglass Mackey, who posted under the alias Ricky Vaughn, was convicted in March of the charge of conspiracy against rights after a trial in federal court in Brooklyn.
Prosecutors said Mackey, who had 58,000 Twitter followers, conspired with others between September and November of 2016 to post falsely that supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton could vote for her by text message or social media post.
For example, they said, Mackey tweeted a photo of a woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” the tweet said. “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925.”
U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement that Mackey “weaponized disinformation in a dangerous scheme to stop targeted groups, including black and brown people and women, from participating in our democracy.”
Mackey’s attorney, Andrew Frisch, asked in a memorandum to the judge that his client be spared prison. Frisch said that Mackey started psychotherapy in 2018 in an effort to change his life and “is not Ricky Vaughn of seven years ago.”
Judge Ann M. Donnelly denied the request. The New York Times reports that before issuing his sentence, Donnelly said Mackey had been “one of the leading members” of a conspiracy that was “nothing short of an assault on our democracy.”