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Political Consultant Confesses to Orchestrating AI-Powered Fake Biden Robocall

Democratic operative admits to commissioning fake Biden robocall that used AI

Steve Kramer, a seasoned political consultant representing a rival candidate, admitted on Sunday to orchestrating the robocall that mimicked President Joe Biden’s voice using artificial intelligence, confirming an NBC News report identifying him as the mastermind behind the call.

In a statement and an interview with NBC News, Kramer showed no remorse for engineering the deepfake call, where an impersonation of the president’s voice discouraged participation in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary. The call sparked numerous law enforcement investigations and drew condemnation from election officials and watchdog groups.

“I’m not hesitant to testify; I stand by my actions,” he said in a late Sunday interview, marking his first public statement since revealing his involvement. “Should a House oversight committee call upon me to testify, I’ll insist it be televised because my understanding surpasses theirs.”

Political Consultant Confesses to Orchestrating AI-Powered Fake Biden Robocall

Political Consultant Confesses to Orchestrating AI-Powered Fake Biden Robocall (Credits: WSOC TV)

Kramer disclosed that he has been subpoenaed by the Federal Communications Commission, anticipates potential lawsuits from several individuals, and acknowledged the prospect of facing legal repercussions, including the possibility of imprisonment. Despite this, he affirmed his commitment to remaining active in the political sphere.

He asserted that he conceived the fake robocall as an act of civil disobedience to highlight the hazards of AI in politics, drawing parallels to American Revolutionary figures like Paul Revere and Thomas Paine. He emphasized the need for stricter enforcement to deter individuals like himself from engaging in similar activities.

“This was my way of making an impact, and I have,” he stated in the interview. “For a mere $500 investment, I generated approximately $5 million worth of response, whether in media coverage or regulatory actions.”

Kramer clarified that the idea for the hoax originated solely from him and had no connection to his client, Representative Dean Phillips, a long-shot contender in the Democratic primary. Financial records indicate Phillips paid Kramer over $250,000 around the time the robocall was dispatched in January.

Phillips and his campaign swiftly disavowed the robocall, affirming ignorance of Kramer’s involvement and asserting they would have severed ties had they been aware.

Responding to Kramer’s remarks, Phillips’ press secretary, Katie Dolan, reiterated the campaign’s condemnation of the calls and any attempts to suppress voter participation.

Kramer’s services were enlisted by Phillips’ team in December and January for ballot access efforts in New York and Pennsylvania, involving the collection of signatures from voters to qualify for the ballot.

“I anticipate potential litigation from several parties, but they’re accustomed to dealing with their own kind,” Kramer remarked in the interview. “I can assure you they’re not accustomed to dealing with someone like me. I was a collegiate wrestler.”

He also admitted to commissioning an earlier deepfake robocall impersonating Senator Lindsey Graham, characterizing it as a mere trial run.

The revelation of Kramer’s involvement in the fake Biden robocall surfaced following an NBC News report on Friday.

Regarding his delayed admission, Kramer explained, “I waited until after the South Carolina primary; I didn’t want to disrupt that.” He maintained that his calls to New Hampshire voters, urging them not to vote, “wouldn’t have altered anything” in that primary.

“If I had come forward immediately, it would have undermined the call’s objective,” he added, asserting that the delay was necessary to allow regulatory authorities to intervene.


Biden (Credits: The New Republic)

Prior to Kramer’s disclosure, the individual responsible for creating the first-known AI deepfake in a presidential campaign remained unidentified.

Paul Carpenter, a street magician from New Orleans, revealed that Kramer enlisted him to utilize AI software to replicate Biden’s voice to read a script provided by Kramer.

Carpenter disclosed receiving $150 for his services, supported by Venmo transactions and text exchanges shared with NBC News.

Kramer justified hiring Carpenter by citing the magician’s financial struggles and expressing a desire to assist him. He claimed the idea stemmed from inquiries by clients regarding AI-related work.

With a background in voter mobilization and as the president of his own consulting firm, Kramer has contributed to numerous federal, state, and local campaigns over the past two decades, predominantly aligning with Democratic causes. Notably, he worked briefly for Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, during his independent presidential bid in 2020.

Carpenter, a nomadic performer, claimed to have met Kramer through a mutual contact last year and believed Kramer was affiliated with the Biden campaign when approached to create the audio file for the robocall.

Authorities in New Hampshire are investigating the robocall for potential violations of state laws against voter suppression. A multistate task force of state attorneys general focused on combating robocalls aims to set a precedent by pursuing those involved in the Biden robocall as AI technology becomes more prevalent. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission expedited plans to ban AI robocalls in response to the incident.

In his statement, Kramer confirmed employing the Texas-based telemarketing company Life Co. to disseminate the calls, clarifying that they were unaware of the call’s content beforehand.

“They were unaware of the call’s content prior to distribution,” Kramer stated. “While I may consider using their services again, they have chosen to sever ties with my business.”

He also corroborated Carpenter’s account, affirming that he dictated the content of the fake Biden robocall, emphasizing that the call was crafted according to his specific instructions.

“Even individuals acting independently can readily exploit AI for deceptive and disruptive purposes,” Kramer concluded.

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