- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2021

An alt-right social media influencer on Wednesday was arrested and charged with interfering in the 2016 election for allegedly fraudulently telling Black supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could vote by text.

Douglass Mackey, also known as Ricky Vaughn, 31, of West Palm Beach, Florida, is charged with conspiring to disseminate information to deprive individuals of their right to vote.

Prosecutors say that in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to encourage Clinton supporters to cast their vote by text message.

Although Ms. Clinton was not identified by name in court documents, it is clear she is the candidate Mr. Mackey tried to undercut.

A Nov. 1, 2016 tweet linked to Mr. Mackey featured an African American woman standing in front of a sign that read “African Americans for Clinton,” according to court documents.

“Avoid the Line. Vote from Vote from Home. Text [Candidate’s first name] to 59925. Vote for [the Candidate] and be part of history,” he allegedly wrote.

The text included fine print claiming it was paid for by Mrs. Clinton‘s campaign.

At least 4,900 different telephone numbers texted Hillary or some derivative of her name to the text number in the ad, according to court documents.

“Protecting every American citizen’s right to cast a legitimate vote is a key to the success of our republic,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, in a statement. “What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process — by soliciting voters to cast their ballots via text — amounted to nothing short of vote theft. It is illegal behavior and contributes to the erosion of the public’s trust in our electoral processes.”

Prosecutors say Mr. Mackey and his co-conspirators also created false memes which they promoted through Twitter and other social media sites.

One of those memes, according to prosecutors, included the #draftourdaughters campaign alleging that Ms. Clinton would start a global war and draft women to fight in it.

Mr. Mackey’s “Ricky Vaughn” persona was one of the most influential far-right social media voices during the 2016 election.

In February 2016, MIT Media Lab ranked “Ricky Vaughn” the 107th most important influencer of the upcoming election. His account ranked ahead of NBC News, Stephen Colbert and Newt Gingrich.

Donald Trump Jr. was among his 58,000 followers.

Twitter had shut down the Ricky Vaughn account about a month before the 2016 election. However, Mr. Mackey reappeared under the new handle of @RappinBill. 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide