Trump supporter sentenced to prison over deceptive 'vote-by-text' memes during 2016 election

October 19, 2023
Ben Marquis

Just days after President Joe Biden took office in 2021, his Justice Department charged and subsequently prosecuted a Trump supporter over humorous and deceptive memes about Democrats voting by text that he posted to social media during the 2016 election.

That Trump supporter, Douglass Mackey, was convicted in March of "conspiracy to interfere" with voters' rights and has now been sentenced to serve seven months in prison for posting online obviously satirical election-related memes, according to the Daily Wire.

The absurd sentence following an unwarranted prosecution not only highlights the overreach of Biden's DOJ but also further exposes its overt partisan bias, as the outlet noted that a prominent left-leaning social media influencer did virtually the same thing as Mackey during the same election, only aimed at deceiving Republican voters, yet has not been similarly charged and prosecuted.

Sentenced to prison over political memes

A DOJ press release on Wednesday announced the seven month prison sentence for Mackey handed down by U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly following his conviction in March for conspiring with others to "interfere with potential voters’ right to vote in the 2016 election."

During the final run-up to the 2016 election, Mackey posted to social media a series of memes, each targeted at different demographic and minority groups, that deceptively appeared as though they originated with the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and encouraged her supporters to "Avoid the Line" and "Vote from Home" by texting a particular hashtag to a particular number.

In a statement following sentencing, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said, "One of the foundational rights we hold as Americans, a right that many fought so hard to obtain, is the right to vote. The defendant weaponized disinformation in a dangerous scheme to stop targeted groups, including black and brown people and women, from participating in our democracy."

"This groundbreaking prosecution demonstrates our commitment to prosecuting those who commit crimes that threaten our democracy and seek to deprive people of their constitutional right to vote," the prosecutor added.

Hyperbolic judge sides with politically motivated prosecutors

According to Courthouse News, Judge Donnelly asserted that Mackey -- who was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release after his seven months in prison -- had engaged in a conspiracy that was "nothing short of an assault on our democracy."

Prosecutors had argued that Mackey had committed "fraud," even though he wasn't actually charged with that crime, and said that his vote-by-text memes were "intended variously to provoke, mislead, and, in some cases, deceive voters in the 2016 presidential election."

They also pointed to other comments Mackey had posted in private messages that they claimed displayed his prejudice against minorities and women, which Judge Donnelly decried as "repellant," even as she unironically claimed, "You are not being sentenced for your political beliefs or for expressing those beliefs" -- which, truth be told, is exactly what he was prosecuted for in the first place, as there is zero evidence that Mackey's memes actually stopped anybody from casting a valid ballot in the prescribed legal manner.

Mackey's attorneys argued during the sentencing hearing that any sort of prison sentence was "not necessary for this type of conduct," but prosecutors countered that prison time was definitely necessary in order to "send a message to the general public."

Gross violation of free speech rights

At the time that Mackey was first charged just days after President Biden assumed office, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy wrote for National Review about the "frivolous" and "ridiculous" prosecutorial effort based on no real criminal violation that nonetheless could have resulted in up to 10 years in prison for the defendant.

"It’s a three-fer: the prosecutorial creation of a crime Congress has not prescribed, the trivialization of civil-rights law, and the intrusion of government as a monitor of political speech," he said as he proceeded to highlight several major flaws in the effort to prosecute Mackey over deceptive memes under a civil rights law aimed at stopping intimidation and threats or actual violence against minorities exercising their right vote.

"The government’s law-enforcement officers and regulators must police against the intimidation of voters. That is their duty under civil-rights law," McCarthy concluded. "But they have no business policing political speech, no matter how false it is. That is not what the criminal law is for -- see Amendment, First."

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