A Trump supporter has been sentenced to seven months in prison after he was convicted of election interference over social media posts.
Douglass Mackey was accused of a “scheme to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote,” after a Twitter account he ran under the handle “Ricky Vaughn” posted memes in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. One image showed a black woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign and said “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925.”
The Justice Department said around 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted the hotline although it was unclear how many were participating in the joke rather than trying to cast their ballots.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey suspended Mackey from the platform.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly, an Obama appointee, sentenced Mackey, claiming that his actions were “nothing short of an assault on our democracy” and amounted to attempts “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” people from exercising their right to vote according to Courthouse News Service.
“Voting is the right that secures all other rights we hold dear,” Department of Justice Attorney Erik David Paulsen said. “They were committing fraud, one that was aimed at one of our most sacred rights in our democracy.”
Prosecutors also took aim at Mackey for derogatory posts he had made toward black people and women, but Donnely said her sentence did not have to do with his political beliefs. “You are not being sentenced for your political beliefs or for expressing those beliefs,” she said.
James Lawrence, an attorney for Mackey, previously said in an interview with The Daily Wire that his memes were satirical and were therefore not relevant to the law he purportedly violated. Mackey faced as many as 10 years in prison.
Some have contended that Mackey’s right to free speech had been violated in a politically motivated case by the Biden administration. “It’s a three-fer: the prosecutorial creation of a crime Congress has not prescribed, the trivialization of civil-rights law, and the intrusion of government as a monitor of political speech,” former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy wrote in an opinion piece for National Review.