Eastern District of New York | Social media influencer Douglass Mackey convicted of interference in the 2016 presidential campaign

Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn today on charges of conspiracy against rights arising out of his plot to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote. The verdict followed a week-long trial before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly. If convicted, Mackey faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Breon Peace, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Deputy Executive Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the verdict.

“Mackey was found guilty by a jury of his own kind for attempting to prevent individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for their candidate of choice in the 2016 presidential election,” said US Attorney Peace. “Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent acts crossed a line of crime and flatly dismisses his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right to free speech as a shield for his plan to subvert the ballot box and stifle voting return.”

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

As evidenced 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 spread fraudulent messages targeting supporters of the Encouraging presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media, which was in fact illegal. For example, on November 1, 2016, around the same time Mackey was tweeting about the importance of limiting “Black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image showing an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” stood” sign. The ad said: “Avoid the line. Vote from Home,” “SMS ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the The misleading image read: “Must be at least 18 years of age to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text is not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska, or Hawaii. Paid by Hillary For President 2016.” The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a catchphrase commonly used by Hillary Clinton. On or around and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique phone numbers spelled out “Hillary” or a derivative of the text number 59925, which is found in used in several misleading campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.

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A few hours after tweeting the first image, Mackey tweeted an image showing a woman sitting in a conference room typing a message on her cell phone. This misleading image was written in Spanish and mimicked a font used in authentic ads by the Clinton campaign. The image also included a copy of the Clinton campaign logo and the hashtag “ImWithHer.”

The government’s case is being handled by the Bureau’s Public Integrity Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Erik D. Paulsen and F. Turner Buford of the Bureau’s Public Integrity Division and Trial Attorney William J. Gullotta of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Division are presiding over the prosecution, with the assistance of Paralegal Shivani Parshad .

The defender:

Age: 33
West Palm Beach, Fla

EDNY File Number 21-CR-80 (AMD)