Political consultant accused of hiring magician to spam voters with Biden deepfake calls

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President Joe Biden speaks on the phone while visiting a phone bank at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Boston. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks on a phone at right. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden speaks on the phone while visiting a phone bank at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A group of voters in New Hampshire have accused a political consultant of hiring a “transient magician” and “self-described digital nomad with no fixed address” to create deepfake robocalls of President Joe Biden telling people if they voted in the state’s primary they couldn’t vote in the general election in November.

Filing the lawsuit are a group of New Hampshire voters including the state’s League of Women Voters chapter and the League of Women Voters United States. They allege that political consultant Steve Kramer — who has a long history of litigation against him for similar automated call schemes — commissioned a man, Steve Carpenter, to develop the bogus Biden message to disseminate to thousands of voters on Jan. 21.

Kramer is accused of hiring two entities to help him pull off the spam campaign, Lingo Telecom LLC and Life Corporation, both based in Texas.

According to the complaint, the call this January used artificial intelligence to “deepfake” Biden‘s voice in a message urging them not to vote in the primary and “save” their vote for the general election this November.

“To add to the deception, at least some of the New Hampshire Robocalls ‘spoofed’ a personal phone number associated with a prominent former state Democratic Party leader [Kathy Sullivan] known to be a supporter of President Biden,” the voters’ lawsuit also alleges.

Sullivan, operating her own independent super PAC at the time of the primary, had already urged local Democrats to write in Biden’s name, the lawsuit notes.

In the call, the fake Biden voice said:

This coming Tuesday is the New Hampshire Presidential Preference Primary. Republicans have been trying to push nonpartisan and Democratic
voters to participate in their primary. What a bunch of malarkey.

We know the value of voting Democratic when our votes count. It’s important that you save your vote for the November election. We’ll need your help in
electing Democrats up and down the ticket. Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again.

Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday. If you would like to be removed from future calls, please press two now. Call [personal cell
phone of Kathy Sullivan] to be removed from future calls.

One voter who received the call said the voice sounded so much like President Biden that she didn’t even “think about it at the time that it wasn’t his real voice.”

“That’s how convincing it was,” she said, adding that she later realized the robocall was a phony because the message itself didn’t make sense in greater context.

Kramer has taken credit for orchestrating the calls and says he does it to expose the perils of artificial intelligence, The Associated Press reported.

Kramer’s attorneys could not be reached for comment by Law&Crime.

The lawsuit also notes that in the wake of the robocalls to New Hampshire voters, the Federal Communications Commission since banned this type of automated, unsolicited spamming by phone this February.

Seeking a nationwide injunction against Kramer and the named entities, the plaintiffs ask the court to declare the alleged operation to be a violation of local election laws and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. They have also asked for fines to be imposed for each violation or each call. Those fines could reach up to $1,500 per violation if the plaintiffs can convince the court.

In a statement Thursday, an attorney representing the voters slammed Kramer’s tactics to disenfranchise the public of n New Hampshire and around the U.S.

“These types of voter suppression tactics have no place in our democracy,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel at the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Courtney Hostetler, senior Counsel at Free Speech For People, a group also representing the plaintiffs, emphasized the point Thursday.

“No one should abuse technology to make lawful voters think that they should not, or cannot safely, vote in the primaries or in any election,” she said.

In an interview with NBC News in February as an investigation into robocalls was underway in multiple states, the man Kramer hired, Carpenter, told the outlet he created the audio but he did not distribute it.

“I was in a situation where someone offered me some money to do something, and I did it. There was no malicious intent. I didn’t know how it was going to be distributed,” Carpenter said.

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