AG James Fines Robocall Company for Allegedly Harassing Black Voters Ahead of 2020 Election

Cozen O'Connor
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  • New York AG Letitia James and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation reached a settlement with robocall company Message Communications, Inc. and its president (collectively “Message Defendants”) along with any successor companies or entities to resolve allegations that the Message Defendants violated various state and federal civil rights and election laws when they placed over 5,500 automatic telephone calls (robocalls) that allegedly used disinformation to threaten and harass Black voters.
  • According to AG James’ office, the robocalls were intended to threaten and harass Black communities in the summer of 2020 by making baseless claims that mail-in voters would have their personal information shared with law enforcement for outstanding warrants, to debt collection companies, and possibly to the CDC in order to track individuals for mandatory vaccines.
  • Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the Message Defendants will cease transmitting robocalls that could “intimidate or deter voters from voting by any method in any election,” and must adopt a written policy that prohibits any of their customers from using Message Communications’ services to violate any election, civil rights, consumer protection, anti-fraud, or other applicable laws. The Message Defendants must also screen election-related robocalls before broadcast, screen new customers for a publicly reported history of fraud, and credit 200,000 minutes to a nonpartisan voter protection organization to use for a voter protection robocall. Finally, Message Defendants will pay the AG’s office $50,000 which will be distributed to the recipients of the robocalls.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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