Douglass Mackey, Aka @RickyVaughn99, Indicted in New York For Spreading Misinformation Relevant To The 2016 Presidential Election
On March 31, 2023 Douglass Mackey was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn of the charge of Conspiracy Against Rights. The origin of this charge occurred on January 22, 2021, two days after Joe Biden was inaugurated. Douglass Mackey was indicted under 18 USC 241, for conspiracy to violate civil rights. Mackey’s alleged crime? Federal Prosecutors claim Mackey was behind the popular Trump-supporting Twitter Account @RickyVaughn99, and used "social media to spread disinformation relevant to the impending 2016 Presidential Election." Specifically, the government was concerned that "disinformation spread by these individuals often took the form of 'memes.'" Mackey is facing up to ten years in prison for what the government for what the government calls a “disinformation conspiracy” to deceive voters for actions that allegedly took place five years prior to his arrest. In addition to threatening to his own personal freedom, the outcome of this case will set important precedents on both the First Amendment and due process.
The decision cited below in the case brought by the US Attorney in the Eastern District reeks of injustice. My opinion. But I have posted the article published in the Wall Street Journal for balance.
Nonetheless, this decision arrives just days after former President Donald Trump was indicted for federal crimes that no one believes valid.
New York is a State without laws and without justice for any person who challenges autocratic rule by the woke mob. Freedom of Speech no longer exists.
Social Media Influencer Douglass Mackey Convicted of Election Interference in 2016 Presidential Race
Friday, March 31, 2023
Defendant Attempted to Suppress Vote Through Social Media Disinformation Campaign
Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn of the charge of Conspiracy Against Rights stemming from his scheme to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote. The verdict followed a one-week trial before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly. When sentenced, Mackey faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the verdict.
“Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote.”
In 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Presidential Election.
As proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid. For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.” The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.
Several hours after tweeting the first image, Mackey tweeted an image depicting a woman seated at a conference room typing a message on her cell phone. This deceptive image was written in Spanish and mimicked a font used by the Clinton campaign in authentic ads. The image also included a copy of the Clinton campaign’s logo and the “ImWithHer” hashtag.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Erik D. Paulsen and F. Turner Buford of the Office’s Public Integrity Section, and Trial Attorney William J. Gullotta of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Shivani Parshad.
West Palm Beach, Florida
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-80 (AMD)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office
Updated March 31, 2023
MEME DEFENSE FUND
The Ricky Vaughn Witch Hunt
The Justice Department’s Ridiculous Voter ‘Disinformation’ Prosecution
Are Douglass Mackey’s Memes Illegal?
Will Biden and Harris Criminalize Memes?
Far-Right Twitter Influencer Found Guilty of Spreading Misinformation to Voters
Prosecutors charged Douglass Mackey with conspiring to mislead Hillary Clinton voters on how to cast ballots ahead of the 2016 presidential election
By James Fanelli
Updated March 31, 2023 7:02 pm ET
A far-right Twitter influencer was found guilty in a New York federal court Friday of spreading misinformation to Hillary Clinton supporters ahead of the 2016 presidential election, in a case involving a rare federal charge and a legal test of free speech on social media.
A jury in Brooklyn convicted Douglass Mackey of a single criminal count after prosecutors said he plotted with other Twitter users to create memes intended to trick supporters of Mrs. Clinton into thinking they could cast a ballot by texting a phone number or posting a hashtag on social media. Federal prosecutors said Mr. Mackey supported Donald Trump in the 2016 race and hoped to reduce voter turnout for Mrs. Clinton by creating and sharing the memes.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn charged Mr. Mackey in 2021 with conspiracy against rights, which makes it illegal to suppress or intimidate individuals from enjoying their constitutional rights, including voting. He pleaded not guilty. His lawyer said Mr. Mackey never intended the memes to be taken seriously and his Twitter posts qualified as political speech and satire protected under the First Amendment.
Prosecutors said Mr. Mackey’s actions weren’t protected free speech, arguing that the Supreme Court has said the First Amendment doesn’t shield deceptive efforts to thwart a citizen from voting.
“Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.
A lawyer for Mr. Mackey said they are optimistic that the verdict will be overturned on appeal. A federal judge set Mr. Mackey’s sentencing for Aug. 16.
In his Twitter posts, Mr. Mackey used the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn, a reference to Charlie Sheen’s character in the 1989 film “Major League,” and had an avatar of the fictional baseball player wearing a Make America Great Again hat, according to prosecutors. On social media, Mr. Mackey carried sway, prosecutors said, citing a report by MIT Media Lab, a research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that showed he had the 107th most important Twitter account influencing the then-upcoming 2016 election.
During the trial, which took place over a week, another Twitter user who participated in the misinformation scheme and is cooperating with prosecutors testified how he, Mr. Mackey and others hashed out the memes in group chats on social media. In a rare decision, the federal judge allowed the witness to testify under his Twitter moniker and not give his real name. Prosecutors had requested anonymity for the witness because they said he is cooperating in ongoing federal investigations.
Mr. Mackey also testified in his own defense, calling the memes hyperbole. During cross-examination, prosecutors questioned him about racist and misogynist posts he made on Twitter that they say showed he intended to target Black and women voters with the memes. Days before the election, Mr. Mackey tweeted one meme that included an image of a Black woman in front of a sign reading “African-Americans for Hillary Clinton” and encouraged people to cast a vote at home by texting a number, prosecutors said.
Write to James Fanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org
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