July 5, 2022

Volume XII, Number 186

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FCC Proposes $5 M+ Robocall Forfeiture

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted and then released (on August 24, 2021) a Notice of Proposed Liability for Forfeiture (“NALF”) in the amount of “$5,134,500 against John M. Burkman (“Burkman”), Jacob Alexander Wohl (“Wohl”), and J.M. Burkman & Associates LLC (“Burkman & Associates” or the “Company”), for apparently making 1,141 unlawful robocalls to wireless numbers without subscribers’ prior express consent, absent an emergency purpose, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), as codified in section 227(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (“Communications Act” or “Act”), and section 64.1200(a)(1)(iii) of the Commission’s rules.” https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-21-97A1.pdf

The FCC states that “under the TRACED Act, the Commission may issue a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for violations of Section 227(b) of the Act without first issuing a citation, and we do so here.”

The FCC proposal amounts to $4,500 for “each apparently unlawful robocall that was placed to a wireless number.” According to the NALF, “Burkman and Wohl are lobbyists and political consultants based in Arlington, Virginia.” Mr. Burkman “also owns Burkman & Associates, which is a lobbying firm registered in the state of Virginia.” The NALF states that “together, they use the name ‘Project-1599’ for political activities.”

The apparently unlawful calls involved prerecorded messages that allegedly “told potential voters that if they voted by mail, their ‘personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.’” The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, working “in cooperation with the Ohio State Attorney General’s Office, identified two dialing service providers that had placed the suspected illegal robocalls.”

The FCC is proposing to hold “Burkman, Wohl, and Burkman & Associates individually and collectively liable for making the apparently illegal calls. The evidence shows that all three were jointly and severally involved in making the robocalls at issue.”

With respect to Mr. Burkman, the agency found that the “evidence also supports piercing the corporate veil, to the extent it is necessary to find Burkman personally liable.” The NALF notes that “the firm’s headquarters are the same as Burkman’s residence, and Burkman is the sole officer, shareholder, and registered agent for the firm.” Further. “Burkman appears to exercise complete control over Burkman and Associates, and publicly represents that he is the founder of Burkman and Associates.”

Under the express terms of the NALF, Project 1599 has 30 calendar days from the NALF release date either to pay the full amount of the proposed forfeiture or file “a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.”

© Copyright 2022 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 237
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About this Author

Paul Besozzi Telecommunications Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC
Senior Partner

Paul Besozzi concentrates his practice in the wireless, broadband and emerging technology areas. His extensive experience of more than 30 years in the telecommunications field includes regulatory, transactional, legislative and litigation matters for clients ranging from wireless service and infrastructure providers to resellers of long-distance service, including cellular, personal communications services, specialized mobile radio, point-to-point microwave, advanced wireless services and other emerging wireless technologies.

Paul represents clients before the federal and state...

202-457-5292
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