Steve Kramer, Who Orchestrated Fake Biden Robocalls in NH Primary, Is Indicted

Steve Kramer, Who Orchestrated Fake Biden Robocalls in NH Primary, Is Indicted


Grand juries in four New Hampshire counties have indicted a Democratic consultant who admitted to orchestrating robocalls in January that used an artificial-intelligence impersonation of President Biden to urge Democrats not to vote in the state’s presidential primary.

The consultant, Steven Kramer, faces about two dozen counts split between impersonating a candidate, a misdemeanor, and voter suppression, a felony. Each pair of charges is tied to a specific voter who received the robocall.

The indictments were handed up over the past month, and the New Hampshire attorney general, John M. Formella, announced them on Thursday.

Separately on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission fined Mr. Kramer $6 million for trying to “defraud voters using call spoofing technology that violates the Truth in Caller ID Act.”

The F.C.C. also levied a $2 million fine against Lingo Telecom, the company through which the calls were routed, accusing it of “failing to follow our call authentication policies.”

Neither Mr. Kramer nor Lingo Telecom immediately responded to requests for comment.

The criminal charges against Mr. Kramer — filed in Belknap, Grafton, Merrimack and Rockingham Counties — allege that he “knowingly attempted to prevent or deter” each voter from voting “based on fraudulent, deceptive, misleading or spurious grounds or information.” They also allege that, through his actions or another person’s actions for which he is legally responsible, he placed a call to each voter in which he “falsely represented himself as a candidate for office.”

Arraignments are scheduled in the four counties for June 5, 14, 17 and 26, according to charging documents provided by a spokesman for the New Hampshire Judicial Branch.

Mr. Kramer admitted in February that he had been behind the robocalls, which urged New Hampshire residents not to participate in the presidential primary in January because “your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” The caller ID was falsified to show the number of a former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The former chairwoman, Kathleen Sullivan, praised the New Hampshire Justice Department on social media for its “fast work” and said she hoped the indictments served as a deterrent to similar robocalls in the future.

Mr. Kramer said he had hired Paul Carpenter, an itinerant magician and technology and marketing consultant, to produce the audio for the calls using an A.I. tool — a fact alluded to in the charging documents, which refer to Mr. Kramer being responsible for actions taken by another party.

Mr. Carpenter, who said in February that he had been unaware of how Mr. Kramer intended to use the audio, has not been charged.

Mr. Kramer claimed in February to have placed the calls in an effort to expose the dangers of A.I. in campaigns and to prompt regulatory action.

Mr. Carpenter disputed that claim, saying that Mr. Kramer had told him he wanted to assess the technology with an eye toward offering it as a service to future clients.



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