NEW YORK — A far-right campaigner from Florida was convicted Friday of conspiring to disenfranchise individuals in the 2016 presidential election.
Douglas Mackey, 33, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was sentenced after a weeklong trial in Brooklyn federal court by Judge Ann M. Donnelly was previously convicted. On the Internet, he was known as “Ricky Vaughan”.
In 2016, Mackie had about 58,000 Twitter followers and was ranked by the MIT Media Lab as the 107th most important influencer in the upcoming presidential election, prosecutors said. He described himself as an “American nationalist” who regularly retweeted Trump and promoted conspiracy theories about voter fraud by Democrats.
Arrested in January 2021, Mackey faces up to 10 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for August 16.
His lawyer, Andrew Frisch, said in an email that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan would have several reasons to throw out the conviction.
“We’re optimistic about the prospects for an appeal,” Frisch said.
U.S. Attorney Brion Pease said in a release that the jury rejected Mackey’s cynical attempt to use First Amendment free speech protections to shield himself from criminal liability for the voter suppression scheme.
“Today’s ruling demonstrates that the defendant’s fraudulent activities are a cross-border crime,” he said.
From September 2016 to November 2016, the government alleged that Mackey conspired with several cybercriminals to spread fraudulent messages to Clinton supporters.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that Mackie urged supporters of then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media, knowing those endorsements were not legally valid votes.
At the same time, prosecutors say, he sent tweets saying it was important to control “black turnout” at the polls. One tweet she sent showed a photo of a black woman with a Clinton campaign sign, encouraging people to “skip the line” and “vote from home.”
Prosecutors said an image used in social media pitches promoting bogus votes used a font similar to the one used by the Clinton campaign in the actual ads. Others tried to mirror Clinton’s ads in other ways.
By Election Day in 2016, at least 4,900 private phone numbers were texted to “Hillary” or something similar to a text number circulated by several fraudulent campaign images tweeted by McGee and co-conspirators, prosecutors said.
Twitter said it was working closely with the appropriate authorities on the matter.