Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One million dollars. That’s the punishment from a federal judge against the man behind the controversial 2010 Election Night robocalls.
Derek Valcourt explains this is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by the Attorney General.
Earlier this month, a jury convicted Julius Henson on one of the four criminal charges against him related to those robocalls. Now this massive judgment comes in the civil case.
A federal judge has ordered political consultant Julius Henson to pay $1 million for writing and sending Election Night robocalls that suggested registered Democrats need not vote because Governor Martin O’Malley was already winning. This lawsuit was filed by Attorney General Doug Gansler just days after the election.
“I think the message is very clear that this kind of conduct won’t be tolerated in the state of Maryland,” Gansler said.
Gansler argued and a federal judge agreed that the robocalls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because they never contained the legally-required disclosure that the calls were really coming from the campaign of Republican Bob Ehrlich.
Henson’s employee Rhonda Russell, who recorded the robocall, was also fined $10,000, in addition to the penalties against Henson.
“Basically, that is unprecedented in this country,” Henson said.
Henson maintains the law he’s charged with violates free speech and insisted all along his prosecution has been politically motivated, designed to put him out of business.
“No trial, no evidence, nothing, and you come with this salacious amount of money—a million dollars for a phone call?” Henson said.
“If a political consultant gets hit with a $1 million charge for insidious conduct that was directed toward suppressing the voter turnout, the next person is going to think long and hard before they do something like this again,” Gansler said.
Henson promises to take his appeals all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Henson faces sentencing in his criminal case on June 13.