Pro-Trump Twitter User ‘Ricky Vaughn’ Convicted for 2016 Election Meme, Facing Ten Years in Prison
Conservative social media influencer Douglass Mackey, AKA Ricky Vaughn, was convicted of election interference by a federal court Friday after posting several satirical memes to his Twitter page in 2016. Mackey was accused of scheming “to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote” by making memes suggesting that Hillary Clinton supporters could vote through text messages and was convicted by a jury of “Conspiracy Against Rights.” He faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison at his sentencing.
Mackey, a West Palm Beach resident, was charged on January 27, 2021–just one week after Joe Biden assumed the presidency. During the 2016 presidential election, Mackey ran a popular pro-Trump Twitter account with approximately 58,000 followers. A statement from the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Eastern New York estimated Mackey to have been the “107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Presidential Election.”
Between September and November 2016, the conservative influencer posted several memes on his page encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to vote for their candidate via text message–a legally invalid voting method. Some of the images shared by Mackey included the captions “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.”
The DOJ claims that approximately 4,900 “unique telephone numbers” texted “Hillary” in connection with the posts but did not state whether any individuals had actually been deprived of their vote per the charges. Mackey was convicted under a 1909 law originally intended to protect voters against intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan.
The verdict is in: Douglass Mackey has been found guilty.
— US Attorney EDNY (@EDNYnews) March 31, 2023
Following the conviction, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said in a press statement,
“Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election. Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote.”
A statement from the DOJ on Friday reads,
“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.”
Tucker Carlson discusses the case of Douglass Mackey, known on Twitter as “Ricky Vaughn”, who the Biden DOJ is trying to send to jail for *10 Years* for posting Memes about Hillary Clinton in 2016. pic.twitter.com/1CO0q4cdso
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) March 15, 2023
The conviction of Douglass Mackey has been widely condemned as an affront to free speech. Commentators noted similar memes posted by liberal influencers in 2016, encouraging Trump supporters to vote via text, which the federal government has not prosecuted. In one instance, internet personality Kristina Wong encourages Trump supporters to “skip poll lines” and vote on “Super Wednesday.”
— Kristina Wong ❄️ (@mskristinawong) November 8, 2016
An attorney for Mackey is reportedly optimistic about the conservative influencer’s chances of having the conviction overturned, telling reporters, “we are optimistic about our chances on appeal.” Mackey’s sentencing is scheduled for August 16. He faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison.
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