On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Attorney General cited the Texas telecommunications company as the source probably a robot call generated by artificial intelligence He imitated President Joe Biden, whom he told Democrats not to vote for in last month’s presidential election.
At a news conference in Concord, Republican John Formella said he was filing the criminal charges after his office worked with the Federal Communications Commission and a private industry group to find the source of the robocalls.
It was NBC News reports first said the calls were made to voters ahead of the primary vote in January.
with artificial intelligence technology Formella, who has become more accessible, said he and other law enforcement agencies want to make an example of the case to deter others from trying something similar ahead of the November election.
“Never before have we seen this close to an election and such an overt attempt to confuse voters,” Formella said of the AI-powered robocalls. “We don’t want this to be the first of many.”
The subpoenas may violate New Hampshire election laws against voter suppression in addition to federal telecommunications laws, he said, adding that law enforcement is actively pursuing both civil and criminal cases against the companies allegedly behind the subpoenas.
According to Formella, between 5,000 and 25,000 people received calls in the weekend leading up to the Jan. 23 primary, a significant number given that fewer than 125,000 voters participated in the Democratic primary.
The challenge urged Democrats to “hold your vote” until November’s general election, creating the false impression that voters can only vote once. Formella said he could not say whether the call actually caused anyone to stay home.
Investigators traced the source of the call to Life Corporation, a Texas telecommunications marketing company, Formella said, adding that it belonged to a man named Walter Monk. Formella declined to comment on potential motives behind the call, political or otherwise, nor did he say much about the company or its owner.
“We’re pretty sure that’s the source of the calls,” Formella said, adding that the company was “engaged” with the Federal Communications Commission at one point.
Formella’s office sent Life Corporation a cease-and-desist letter Tuesday ordering it to stop “any further conduct” that could lead to voter suppression under state law.
Limited information about Monk or Life Corporation is readily available online and the company does not have a website. On LinkedIn, Walter Monk lists himself as a Dallas-based entrepreneur and owner or chief technology officer of two other communications companies.
The owner of the LinkedIn profile did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
In 2003, the FCC issued a official reference to Life Corporation and more than one alias company name for making “pre-recorded unsolicited advertisements on residential telephone lines” in violation of federal telecommunications law.
Nickname companies mentioned in the quote include dating businesses with names like The Dating Game and Single Stars. Another appeared to offer psychic services – “Psychic Inroads” – and several others called “Fidelity Checks, Inc.” had names similar to large financial firms or credit card processors. and Midwest Card Services.
in 2022 interview A Fort Worth, Texas, trade publication lists Monk as 69 and founder of a political polling company that employs 30 people. A search of Federal Election Commission records found no payment to a firm by that name.
A search of political contributions from Monk turned up a single $5,000 check from 2008, plus $5,000 to a mysterious political group from a person who appeared to Monk’s wife on the same day. PLR PAC. The group, known as 527 for the section of the tax code that governs it, apparently spent nearly all of the $65,673 it raised to support then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain on independent expenditures. The band has little other track than that.
Formella cited another Texas-based company, Lingo Telecom, as being involved in the robocalls, as well as some companies he did not name, but declined to elaborate on their involvement in the robocalls.
He works hard for New Hampshire officials protect After the Democratic National Committee tried to put an end to it, the nation’s first primary took the issue seriously, and the state attorney general’s office announced an investigation hours after NBC News first reported on the fake Biden robocalls.
Formella said his office has received “numerous complaints” and is working on the case with the FCC, an anti-robocall coalition of all 50 state attorneys general, and a telecommunications industry trade group that tracks calls for law enforcement and others.
“Our message is clear,” Formella said, “law enforcement agencies across the country are united on a bipartisan basis and ready to work together to fight any attempt to undermine our elections. We are committed to making our elections free, fair and secure.”
AI isn’t just in politics, with the FCC raising concerns last month moved to criminalize it most robocalls generated by artificial intelligence.
“Don’t try that,” Formella said. “If you do… the consequences of your actions will be dire.”