New Hampshire Attorney General Identifies Source of Fake Biden Robocalls

N.H. attorney general says he found source of fake Biden robocalls

New Hampshire’s Attorney General, John Formella, identified a Texas telecom company as the originator of an apparent AI-generated robocall impersonating President Joe Biden. The call, urging Democrats not to vote in the recent presidential primary, prompted an investigation by Formella’s office in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a private industry group.

Speaking at a press conference in Concord, Formella, a Republican, announced the commencement of a criminal investigation into the matter. He emphasized the unprecedented nature of the incident so close to an election and highlighted the importance of deterring similar attempts in the future, particularly ahead of the upcoming November election.

Formella outlined potential violations of both New Hampshire election laws and federal telecom statutes, indicating that law enforcement is actively pursuing civil and criminal actions against the companies implicated in the calls. He disclosed that between 5,000 and 25,000 individuals received the calls prior to the January primary, a significant number given the relatively low turnout.

New Hampshire Attorney General Identifies Source of Fake Biden Robocalls
New Hampshire Attorney General Identifies Source of Fake Biden Robocalls (Credits: Axios)

The robocall, which falsely suggested that voters could only participate in the general election, potentially constitutes voter suppression. Investigators traced the call’s source to Life Corp., a Texas-based telecom marketing company reportedly owned by Walter Monk. However, Formella refrained from speculating on the motivations behind the call or providing extensive details about the company or its owner.

Formella’s office issued a cease-and-desist letter to Life Corp., instructing them to halt any activities that could amount to voter suppression under state law. Limited information is available online about Monk or Life Corp., with no website for the company apparent. Monk, listed on LinkedIn as a Dallas-based entrepreneur, did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Life Corp. had previously faced FCC citations in 2003 for violating federal telecom law by making unsolicited advertisements to residential telephone lines under various alias company names. Monk, identified as the founder of a political polling company in a 2022 interview, has sparse political contributions and affiliations to his name.

Formella also mentioned Lingo Telecom, another Texas-based company, in connection with the robocalls. Lingo Telecom, serving over 120,000 customers, suspended services to Life Corp. upon being informed of the investigation.

New Hampshire officials, keen on protecting their first-in-the-nation primary, launched an investigation into the fake Biden robocalls following multiple complaints. Formella reiterated the commitment of law enforcement to safeguarding elections, stressing bipartisan cooperation in combating attempts to undermine electoral integrity.

The FCC’s recent move to criminalize most AI-generated robocalls underscores the severity of such actions, with Formella warning of severe consequences for perpetrators. As concerns about AI’s impact on politics grow, authorities remain vigilant in safeguarding electoral processes against manipulation and interference.

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.