Douglas Mackey, an online influencer who was convicted earlier this year for supposed “election interference” caused by his posting of a joke tweet involving Hillary Clinton, has just been sentenced to seven months' incarceration for the offense, as Breitbart reports.
Mackey was accused – and ultimately found guilty – on a charge of “Conspiracy Against Rights” for a 2016 social media post in which he jocularly suggested that Clinton supporters “text their vote” to her campaign phone number.
“Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text 'Hillary' to 59925,” Mackey's post read.
According to the Justice Department, Mackey had established himself as a noteworthy influencer on the platform then known as Twitter and “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 was legally invalid.”
Upon Mackey's conviction in March, the DOJ issued a press release declaring that he was “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 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,” the communication went on.
As a result of the conviction, this week Mackey was sentenced to seven months' incarceration, a penalty handed down by Judge Ann Donnelly, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.
Writing earlier this year for The Federalist, legal commentator Jonathan Tobin highlighted the ominous signals Mackey's prosecution and conviction sent about the current state of our system.
“The fate of the Internet prankster...tells us as much as any recent incident about the way the administrative state is eroding freedom of speech for those who dissent from the approved leftist orthodoxy,” Tobin observed.
Tobin went on, “The determination of the Department of Justice to jail Mackey for posting a satirical Internet meme during the 2016 election campaign should be considered turning point in the saga of a corrupt regime's attempt to use the spread of so-called 'misinformation' to intimidate opponents.”
Addressing what he viewed as the technical flaws in the prosecution of Mackey, Tobin noted, “Conspicuous by its absence from the DOJ's triumphant missive about the conviction was anything about testimony from disappointed citizens who came forward to say they believed the tweet's promise and were thereby deprived of their right to vote.”
“Ordinary common sense would argue that Mackey's tweet – which he hoped would get under the skin of the Clinton campaign – was too silly to be taken seriously by a reasonable person, let alone anyone with the intelligence to cast a vote in a presidential election,” Tobin asserted.
However, Tobin noted, “the DOJ persuaded a jury in a county that Clinton carried with 79.5% of the vote that it was a criminal conspiracy rather than satire.”
“The real problem here goes beyond the ludicrous inflation of Mackey's influence or even unproven assertions about vote theft. Even if Mackey were not a minor figure, the notion that satire about voting for Clinton by text should be treated as a crime is an astonishing denial of the First Amendment and its protections of freedom of speech,” Tobin wrote, and it is precisely on those grounds that Mackey now plans an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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