Understanding the Robocall Magician: Five Essential Facts

Paul Carpenter, a New Orleans magician, performs card tricks during an interview in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Carpenter says he was hired in January by Steve Kramer, who has worked on ballot access for Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips, to use AI software to imitate President Joe Biden's voice to convince New Hampshire Democrat voters not to vote in the state's presidential primary. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

By Colin Booth

February 29, 2024

Last week NBC News broke a story that sent the national political media into a frenzy, linking a consultant for the Dean Phillips campaign to a street magician who was hired to create an AI generated deepfaked robocall from Joe Biden, telling New Hampshire voters to stay home on the day of the presidential primary election.

Here are five facts to know about this wild story:

The Start of the Scheme:

In January 2024, Paul Carpenter, a magician known for his digital nomad lifestyle, was approached by Steve Kramer, a political consultant paid $250,000 by the presidential campaign of Dean Phillips. Kramer hired Carpenter to use AI software to create an audio message mimicking President Biden, instructing New Hampshire Democrats to save their vote for the general election instead of participating in the primary​​.

The Creation of the Deepfake Audio:

Carpenter, utilizing AI voice generator technology, crafted the audio in question, believing it to be for a legitimate purpose. The message was designed to sound convincingly like President Biden, aiming to suppress voter turnout for Biden in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary​​, which might in theory help Phillips’ campaign

Distribution and Deception:

The robocalls were distributed to thousands of New Hampshire voters, with the caller ID spoofed to appear as if coming from Kathy Sullivan, a well-known figure in the Democratic Party who was also a leading figure in the Write-In Joe Biden campaign. This tactic added a deceiving layer of authenticity to the misleading message, intensifying its impact​​, while also making it a personal attack on Sulliuvan who received many calls in response.

RELATED: NH Attorney General points blame for deepfaked Biden robocall to Texas company

Uncovering the Operation:

As the robocalls began to raise suspicion, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office launched an investigation, quickly linking the operation back to two Texas-based companies, Walter Monk’s Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom​​. NBC News Broke the story of Kramer and Carpenter’s involvement and their ties to the Phillips campaign late last week.

Response and Repercussions:

The incident sparked widespread condemnation from political figures and the public alike. While Kramer expressed no remorse, positioning the act as a demonstration of AI’s dangers in politics, the Dean Phillips campaign distanced themselves from the voter suppression effort and threatened legal action. No charges have yet been filed against Kramer, Carpenter, or the Phillips campaign.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

Politics

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