TCPAWORLD AFTER DARK: FCC Hits Scumbags with $5MM Penalty For Using Illegal Robocalls to Suppress Voters

You remember this story.

TCPAWORLD AFTER DARK: The Case of the Robocallers Who Tried to Keep Folks from Voting Has Come Full Circle And Its Delicious

Yeah, the two jokers who used robocalls to try to convince people not to vote were sentenced to a pile of community service.

Well now they owe the FCC $5mm.

On June 6, 2023 the FCC adopted a forfeiture order finding Messieurs Burman and Wohl owe $5,134,500 for making 1,141 illegal prerecorded calls without consent–that’s $4,500.00 per call.

Burman and Wohl fought hard. They raised a bunch of arguments, which the FCC rejected and–unfortunately–made a bunch of bad law in the process. I suspect we will be hearing a lot about this ruling in the future. For instance, the Commission directly held there is no difference between the words “make” (227(b)(1)) and “initiate” (227(b)(2)) and that’s just wrong and disheartening.

But the FCC wasn’t going to let these guys wiggle off the hook–even though they claimed (as they had to) that the content of the calls had nothing to do with their ruling. (If it had, there would be a first amendment issue here.)

Importantly, Section 503(b) of the Communications Act authorizes the Commission to impose a forfeiture against any entity that “willfully or repeatedly fail[s] to comply with any of the provisions of [the Act] or of any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission.” And Section 503(b)(2)(D) authorizes the Commission to assess a forfeiture of up to $20,731 for each violation.

The FCC arrived at the relatively light amount of $4,500.00 per violation instead–relying on past precedent of the Commission–and refused to reduce the discretionary forfeiture amount despite numerous arguments attacking the amount as arbitrary and unfair.

You can read the entire ruling here: 1 – IN THE MATTER OF JOHN M BURKMAN JACOB ALEXANDER WOHL JM BURKMAN And ASSOCIAT

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