President Trump called Monday for an investigation into Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Republican, after a Project Veritas sting alleged that her supporters are running an illegal ballot-harvesting operation in her Minneapolis district.
“This is totally illegal,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her many misdeeds, under serious review??? If not, why not??? We will win Minnesota because of her, and law enforcement. Saved Minneapolis & Iron O Range!”
The Republican Party of Minnesota called for a federal investigation into “apparent voter fraud” after the release of the video, which shows a “ballot broker,” Liban Mohamed, bragging on Snapchat that his car is “full” of absentee ballots.
The canvassers tell elderly voters to order absentee ballots and then collect them en masse, in some cases filling on unopened ballots, according to the allegations.
“They came to us, to our apartments,” said a “ballot harvester” via the translator. “They tell us that this year, you’re going to vote for Ilhan. You don’t go nowhere, you stay home, we are going to fill out the absentee ballot. Our canvasser will come and get it, you just go nowhere, you stay here. They fill [them] out for us. Then they issue it by themselves.”
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan called for a Justice Department investigation into the allegations, as well as investigations by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
She said that 2018 voter turnout in Hennepin County was “shockingly high.”
“We may now have the explanation,” Ms. Carnahan said. “If what appears in the Project Veritas video is accurate the results of every election that touched Hennepin County in 2018 are in question. An investigation needs to be by somebody from outside the MN DFL [Democrat-Farmer-Labor] power structure and outside of Minnesota, we call on US Attorney General William Barr to launch a full investigation.”
BREAKING: @IlhanOmar connected cash-for-ballots harvesting scheme EXPOSED
“Money is the king in everything”; harvester boasts harvesting HUNDREDS of 2020 absentee ballots ILLEGALLY! “Numbers do not lie…these here are all absentee ballots…my car is full…”#BallotHarvesting pic.twitter.com/cB2Bz31mSY
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) September 28, 2020
Omar campaign spokesperson Jeremy Slevin staunchly denied the allegations.
“The amount of truth to this story is equal to the amount Donald Trump paid in taxes of ten out of the last fifteen years: zero,” Mr. Slevin said in an email. “And amplifying a coordinated right-wing campaign to delegitimize a free and fair election this fall undermines our democracy.”
Her campaign said that none of those making allegations on the video works for her reelection bid, and that she easily won her 2018 election by more than 100,000 votes.
Ballot harvesting — the collection and turning in of absentee ballots — is legal in Minnesota, but the limit is three ballots per election. In addition, filling out the ballot of another person illegally is a violation of federal law, and the “harvester” said he and others are paid for collecting the absentee ballots.
This is totally illegal. Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her many misdeeds, under serious review??? If not, why not??? We will win Minnesota because of her, and law enforcement. Saved Minneapolis & Iron O Range! https://t.co/yete31P680
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 28, 2020
Many of those living in the apartments are elderly voters, according to a source identified as a former political worker.
“At the end of this street, there’s three towers called [Charles] Horn Towers. And it’s all seniors. And they took every ballot. Every single ballot. They knock on the door and say, the ballot’s come, give it to me,” she said on the video.
The operatives paid other voters who were driven to polling places. “They were paying cash, cash, cash. They were carrying bags of money, the last one week here, to drive people,” she said.
“And when you vote and they mark you off, then you get in the van, they give you the cash,” she said.
She and Project Veritas whistleblower Omar Jamal, who runs the Somali Watchdog Group, said that Ali Isse Gainey, Ms. Omar’s deputy district director, coordinates the operation.
“Gainey is part of people who are using cash to get votes, and use that to make sure that he wins the election,” said Mr. Jamal, adding, “He’s very active in the community and making sure that whatever it takes to get her elected by any means necessary.”
He said she had “hundreds of people on the street” working on the harvesting, describing it as “an open secret.”
Project Veritas founder and CEO James O’Keefe said in a statement that “ballot harvesting is real and it has become a big business.”
“Our investigation into this ballot harvesting ring demonstrates clearly how these unscrupulous operators exploit the elderly and immigrant communities—and have turned the sacred ballot box into a commodities trading desk,” he said.
Project Veritas has been accused of deceptively editing the hidden-camera video in its undercover investigations, which the group denies.
The video was greeted with skepticism by CNN analyst and ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman, who tweeted, “Wow you’re telling me that project veritas just happened to release a project right after the nyt release a bombshell huh what are the odds.”