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NH Politics

Fake Biden robocall before N.H. primary linked to Texas company, AG says

New Hampshire plans to pursue enforcement aggressively to send a message that election interference will not be tolerated. “The consequences for your actions will be severe,” said Attorney General John Formella.

President Joe Biden meets with members of the Culinary Workers Union at Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024.Stephanie Scarbrough/Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. – Just days before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, thousands of voters in the state received a robocall spoofing President Joe Biden.

The scam calls told voters to “save your vote for November” and “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” and appeared to come from a number that belongs to Kathy Sullivan, former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Those two phrases amount to voter suppression, Attorney General John Formella said in a press conference Tuesday,detailing an investigation that traced the calls back to their source: Life Corporation, a Texas-based company owned by Walter Monk, and Lingo Telecom, the service provider from which the calls originated.

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Formella said the state has opened a criminal investigation and it is working with other states to explore civil litigation as well. The state has already sent a cease and desist letter to Life Corporation, ordering it to stop violating New Hampshire Election laws.

“We’re taking next steps in that investigation by sending document preservation notices and subpoenas to Life Corporation, Lingo Telecom and any other individual or entity or entity who we believe may have information relevant to this investigation,” Formella said.

He said the state is still working to identify other individuals or companies who could be responsible and did not identify a possible motivation or Monk’s political affiliation. As a part of the ongoing investigation, the state is still working to get a “full scope” of Life Corporation’s business.

Formella said the company appears to be a telecommunications company with “some history” with the FCC.

The FCC has also issued a cease and desist to Lingo Telecom, ordering it to stop allowing illegal robocalls on its platform, according to Formella.

Formella said he worked with the Attorney General Robocall Task Force, which is preparing for possible civil litigation against Life Corporation.

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“Calls using AI with something as deceptive as trying to clone the voice of the President of the United States, we haven’t seen something like that before so close to an election,” Formella said, noting the case is relatively unique. “We don’t want it to be the first of many.”

He said Tuesday’s update is meant as an assurance to the public that the state is taking the case seriously and that it is a high priority.

“We are also providing this update and information to send a strong message of deterrence to any person or entity who would attempt to undermine our elections through AI or other means,” he said.

“We will work together with partners across the country to find you, and we will take any enforcement action available to us under the law. The consequences for your actions will be severe,” he said.

Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez praised New Hampshire for acting quickly to address the issue.

“Disinformation aimed at suppressing voting and deliberately undermining free and fair elections is an unacceptable threat, and we commend the New Hampshire Attorney General for taking the matter seriously and moving swiftly as a powerful example against further efforts to disrupt democratic elections,” said Rodriguez in a statement.

This story has been updated to include a statement from the Biden-Harris campaign.


Amanda Gokee can be reached at amanda.gokee@globe.com. Follow her @amanda_gokee.