Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Democratic operative admits to commissioning fake Biden robocall that used AI

By 37ci3 Feb25,2024

Steve Cramer, a veteran political consultant working for a rival candidate, admitted Sunday that he commissioned a robocall impersonating President Joe Biden using artificial intelligence. NBC News reports that he was left behind call.

Cramer said he has no regrets about impersonating the president’s voice for creating the deep rigging that prevented him from participating in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire. The call sparked a series of law enforcement investigations and protests from election officials and supervisors.

“On the evening of Sunday, January 20th, 2 days before the New Hampshire primary, I sent out an automated call to the 5,000 people most likely to vote Democratic. Using easy-to-use online technology, an automated version of President Joe Biden’s voice was created,” Kramer said in a statement first shared with NBC News.

Cramer said there needs to be more enforcement to stop people like him from doing what they do.

“With an investment of just $500, anyone can replicate my intentional calling,” Kramer said. “Urgent action must be taken across all regulatory bodies and platforms.”

Cramer did not say at the time that his client, Biden’s primary opponent, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., had been directed to call by the campaign. According to campaign finance reports, Phillips paid Cramer more than $250,000 when the robocall went off in January.

Phillips, Biden's
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips during a campaign stop on Oct. 31 in Manchester, NH.Charles Krupa / AP file

Phillips and his campaign denounced the robocall, saying they had no knowledge of Cramer’s involvement and would have stopped him immediately if they had known.

“Our campaign reiterates its condemnation of these calls and any efforts to block the vote,” Phillips’ spokeswoman Katie Dolan said in response to Cramer’s statement on Sunday.

In December and January, Phillips’ team hired Kramer to get on the ballot in New York and Pennsylvania. It involves collecting thousands of signatures from voters, which ensures that a candidate can get on the ballot.

Kramer was first linked to the fake Biden robocall on Friday NBC News reports.

Paul Carpenter, a New Orleans street magician, said Kramer hired him to use AI software to create an audio file that read Biden’s voice.

New Orleans magician Paul Carpenter performs card tricks during an interview in New Orleans on Friday.
New Orleans magician Paul Carpenter performs card tricks during an interview in New Orleans on Friday.Matthew Hinton / AP

For the Venmo transactions and the text messages he shared with NBC News, Carpenter was paid $150 for the work.

Until Carpenter came forward, it was unclear who was behind the first known use of artificial intelligence deep-faking in a presidential campaign.

Kramer, a pollster and president of his own small firm, has worked on dozens of federal, state and local campaigns over the past 20 years. He has worked mostly for Democrats, and his career grew out of his involvement with the Young Democrats of America, though his most prominent client was the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who recruited Kramer for his 2020 independent presidential campaign.

Carpenter, a traveling performer, said he met Kramer last year through a mutual acquaintance and was under the impression Kramer was working for the Biden campaign when he asked Carpenter to create an audio file that eventually became a robocall.

Authorities in New Hampshire investigates robocall for potentially violating state laws against voter suppression. A multi-state task force of state prosecutors focused on robocalls is trying to crack down on the people involved in the Biden robocall to set an early example as the technology becomes more widespread. And the Federal Communications Commission accelerated its plans AI bans robocalls In response to Biden’s robocall.

A voter casts a ballot in the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 22 in Laconia.
A voter casts a ballot in the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 22 in Laconia.Matt Nighswander/NBC News file

In his deposition, Kramer confirmed that he hired Life Co., a Texas telemarketing company named by investigators as the originator of the calls, to distribute the calls.

“They had no knowledge of the rich contents of this box before it was delivered,” Kramer said. “I’d use them again, but I’m done.”

He also confirmed Carpenter’s account that he forwarded the contents of the fake Biden robocall, saying the call was created “using a script of my own choosing.”

Kramer is trying to spin the situation by instigating the introduction of tougher safeguards before the technology becomes widespread in campaigns, arguing that his actions will have positive benefits for society. “Self-policing won’t work,” he wrote.

“Even individuals acting alone can quickly and easily use AI for confusing and disruptive purposes,” Kramer added.

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By 37ci3

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