Pro-Trump social media influencer convicted over satirical Hillary Clinton ads

April 3, 2023
Robert Ayers

A pro-Trump, anti-Clinton social media influencer has been convicted of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. 

This information comes by way of a press release that the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York published on Friday, March 31, 2023.

The social media influencer is 33-year-old Douglass Mackey. Mackey has also gone by the Twitter name "Ricky Vaughn."

According to the press release:

In 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Presidential Election.

What did he do?

According to the press release, Mackey's charges were the result of a scheme that he ran during the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The press release states:

As proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid.

The press release goes on to provide specific examples of what Mackey did.

But, it appears that the scope of his scheme was fairly large.

According to the press release, "on or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators."

Convicted, but an appeal is coming

Mackey, on Friday, was convicted by a federal jury of "Conspiracy Against Rights." The conviction came after a trial that lasted for one week.

Mackey, though, has already made it clear that an appeal is forthcoming.

Following the verdict, Andrew Frisch - Mackay's attorney - told reporters:

This case presents an unusual array of appellate issues that are exceptionally strong. This was the first chapter of the litigation of this case. We would have preferred to win, but I am confident about the way forward.

Frisch, in a subsequent statement, added:

The appellate court will have its choice of which issue on which to vacate the conviction. It may choose to do so on First Amendment grounds, or on the government’s suppression of exculpatory information, or on the insufficiency of evidence of venue among other issues. We are optimistic about our chances on appeal.

Mackey is scheduled to be sentenced on August 16, 2023. He faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

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