a A pro-Trump social media influencer With thousands of followers on Twitter, he was convicted of electoral inference during the 2016 election.
“The jury found Mackey guilty of attempting to deny individuals the exercise of their sacred right to vote for a candidate of their choice in the 2016 presidential election,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Brion Pace. In a press release issued by the Ministry of Justice.
“Today’s ruling establishes that Defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed the line into criminality and flatly rejects his ludicrous attempt to use the constitutional right to freedom of expression as a shield for his scheme to sabotage the ballot box and suppress voting,” Salam continued.
Douglas McKee, dubbed “Ricky Vaughn” on the Internet, has been accused of intentionally spreading misinformation online in an effort to suppress Hillary Clinton’s votes in the 2016 election.
The ruling was delivered on Friday by Pace and Michael Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI in New York.
Mackey amassed about 58,000 followers, according to the Department of Justice, and was subsequently ranked as the 107th most important influencer ahead of the 2016 election, an analysis conducted by the MIT Media Lab that same year. It beat out other notables such as NBC News (No. 114), Stephen Colbert (No. 119) and Newt Gingrich (No. 141).
The press release details that between September 2016 and November 2016, McKee conspired with other social media influencers to “post fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of the presidency Candidate Hillary Clinton “to vote ‘via text or social media’ which, in fact, was legally invalid”.
The Department of Justice cited one example of McKee’s crimes, on November 1, 2016, just a week away before election day, where he tweeted a photo of a black woman standing in front of a sign that read, “African Americans for Hillary.” Around this time, Mackey issued tweets indicating that “black turnout” during the election would be limited, according to the Department of Justice.
“Avoid the line. Vote from home,” McKee’s tweet in one of the ads read. Text “Hillary” to 59925, and “Vote for Hillary and be part of history.”
The tweeted ad included fine print stating that said voters must be over 18, legal residents of the United States, but residents of Guam, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are not eligible. The bogus ad added that it was “paid by Hillary for President 2016” and included Clinton’s campaign slogan “#I’m with her”.
“On or about Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique phone numbers sent the text message ‘Hillary’ or some were derived from the text number 59925, which was used in many of the misleading campaign images that McKee and his co-conspirators tweeted,” the ministry reads. Justice came in his press release.
After hours Tweet the fraudulent adMackie tweeted another photo depicting a woman typing on her phone while using a font similar to the one on the Clinton campaign written in Spanish. The Justice Department said the comments were written in Spanish and again included the hashtag “ImWithHer”.
McKee was arrested in West Palm Beach, Florida, in January 2021. He was living in New York City at the time of the tweets.
Twitter said it worked “closely with the relevant authorities on this issue,” the Associated Press reported earlier this year.
Mackey will face sentencing on August 16, according to Politico. Andrew Frisch, McKee’s attorney, said they are optimistic about an appeal.
“We’re optimistic about our chances of appeal,” Frisch told POLITICO.