Political consultant behind fake Biden robocalls posts bond on first 6 of 26 criminal charges

LACONIA, NH (AP) — A political consultant who sent automated calls generated by artificial intelligence imitating President Joe Biden’s voice made his first court appearance Wednesday in New Hampshire, where he is accused of voter suppression and impersonating a candidate ahead of the state’s first presidential primary .

Steven Kramer, who also faces a $6 million fine from the Federal Communications Commissionadmitted to having orchestrated a message sent to thousands of voters two days before the January 23 primary. The message broadcast an AI-generated voice similar to that of the Democratic president who used his phrase “What a load of bullshit” and falsely suggested that voting in the primary would prevent voters from voting in November.

Kramer was charged last month with 13 felonies, alleging he violated a New Hampshire law making it illegal to try to dissuade someone from voting by using misleading information. He also faces 13 misdemeanor charges accusing him of falsely presenting himself as a candidate through his own conduct or that of another person.

The charges were filed in four counties and are currently being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.

At Kramer’s arraignment in Belknap County on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell successfully argued that Kramer should be ordered to post $10,000 cash bail. He argued the amount was necessary to secure Kramer’s return to court, given that he travels frequently and has homes in several states.

Kramer’s attorney, Tom Reid, argued for bail on personal recognizance. He said Kramer has a long history of appearing in regulatory proceedings and has never missed a court date.

“Traveling a lot doesn’t put you at risk of fleeing,” he said.

Kramer declined to comment as he left the courthouse. His lawyer said he “benefited from the presumption of innocence.”

“Obviously we have the presumption of innocence right now, we’re going to look into all the different charges and engage in discussions with the attorney general’s office,” Reid said.

Kramer, the owner of a company that specializes in get-out-the-vote projects, told The Associated Press in February that he was not trying to influence the outcome of the primary election, but rather wanted send a wake-up call on the potential dangers of artificial intelligence when he paid a magician from New Orleans $150 to create the recording.

“Maybe I’m a bad guy today, but I think ultimately we’ll get a better country and a better democracy because of what I did deliberately,” Kramer said in February.

Voter suppression carries a prison sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison. Impersonating a candidate is punishable by up to a year in prison.

Since the New Hampshire robocalls, the FCC has taken steps to combat the growing use of artificial intelligence tools in political communications. In February, he confirmed that AI voice cloning tools in robocalls banned under current law, and on Wednesday, it…

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