A political mailer encouraging Minnesota voters to apply for an absentee ballot and support Republican candidates for president and the U.S. Senate this fall appears to be connected to Kanye West’s bid for president.
The multiple-page mailer is being sent to households across the state from a group called Common Sense Voters of America LLC, an Ohio-based political advocacy group that was registered in June by the same law firm that is working to get West on the Ohio ballot, reports CNN.
Mailers from the group have popped up in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, two key battleground states in this year’s presidential race.
The Minnesota mailer, sent to the Star Tribune by three registered voters, postures as a voter guide that includes an application for an absentee ballot.
The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office confirmed the application is legitimate. But the mailer also asks voters to “protect Minnesota from dangerous extremists,” and on another page said DFL U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden support “taxpayer-funded abortions,” sanctuary cities and “allowing biological men to compete in female sports.”
It notes that President Donald Trump and Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis do not support those issues. A spokesperson for Smith’s campaign criticized the mailer in a statement, saying “outside groups are trying to mislead Minnesotans” in an attempt to help her opponent.
The mailer does not mention West or his campaign. West previously supported Trump but announced in July that he was planning to run for president himself as a third-party candidate.
His campaign collected 7,557 valid signatures and qualified last month to get on Minnesota’s November ballot as a third-party candidate. But Democrats in the state are threatening a legal challenge, arguing his campaign is designed to siphon off votes for Biden from young Democrats who are fans of the entertainer.
Abby Barber, a Democrat and Biden supporter living in south Minneapolis, received the mailer this week. At first glance, she said, she thought the absentee ballot application looked legitimate and might make things simpler for her.
But then she turned the page and saw the targeting of Biden and Smith. She became suspicious and tossed the mailer aside.
“It looks like it’s being sent to me from the Trump campaign, and I never get Republican stuff in my mail,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is just creepy.’ ”
It’s unknown how many Minnesotans the group has sought to reach with its absentee ballot application. An ad tracking database run by the DFL-aligned group A Better Minnesota has also received reports from voters who received the mailer in the Twin Cities suburbs.
Different mailers going out in Pennsylvania from the group contain misinformation about the policy platforms of Biden and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
Christopher Finney, a Cincinnati-based lawyer who registered the nonprofit group sending out the mailers, did not respond to a Star Tribune e-mail to his firm seeking comment. As a nonprofit, the group does not have to disclose its donors.
The Minnesota secretary of state and county election administrators recommend that voters use the online application if they want an absentee ballot. They also ask voters to watch out for whether a mailer’s absentee ballot application is return-addressed to their local elections office.