Mon. Aug 2nd, 2021

Pennsylvania: Political group tied to Kanye West campaign law firm sent misinformation on Biden with mail-in ballot applications to battleground state voters

4 min read

This mailer was sent by a dark money group to Pennsylvania voters last month.

(CNN)An Ohio-based political advocacy group that shares a Republican-allied law firm with Kanye West’s political campaign is sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications containing misinformation on Democratic candidates to voters in Pennsylvania and Minnesota — both key battleground states for the 2020 election.

Common Sense Voters of America LLC, which was registered in June by the same law firm representing West in his suit to get on the Ohio ballot, sent mailers in August containing images of fake headlines about Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

This mailer was sent by a dark money group to Pennsylvania voters last month.While the mail-in ballot applications sent to voters appear to be legitimate, the mailers also include misinformation about Democratic candidates including Biden, his running mate California Sen. Kamala Harris and Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, while positively portraying positions taken by President Donald Trump and Republicans.

    Trump and his supporters have railed against mail-in voting, particularly of mass mail ballots that are sent unsolicited, and falsely claim that it is plagued by widespread fraud. In reality, there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. CNN obtained pictures of the mailers from registered voters in both Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on the Pennsylvania mailers. Read MoreIt is unclear how many mailers were sent to Pennsylvania and Minnesota voters or if the mailers were only sent to these swing-state voters. Common Sense Voters for America LLC was registered on June 29 as a nonprofit in Ohio by Christopher Finney, a Cincinnati-based lawyer. Finney declined to comment to CNN, saying his client did not give him permission to speak to the press. The Finney Law Firm is currently representing Kanye West in a lawsuit against the state of Ohio in West’s effort to get on the November ballot as a presidential candidate. It is unknown who exactly is funding the mailers or how much money has been spent on the campaign. Nonprofits are not required to disclose donors. The group lists a Pennsylvania Avenue return address in Washington, DC, on the ballot applications sent to Pennsylvania and Minnesota. That suite is advertised as a “virtual office,” by real estate company Regus, which notes it is only three blocks from the White House. Common Sense Voters of America LLC’s mail-in ballot applications include political misinformation and falsehoods against Democrats. The Pennsylvania mailer falsely states that Biden and Harris support open borders; a Biden-Harris ticket supports a less restrictive immigration policy than Trump’s but does not support unfettered migration. It falsely states Biden and Harris support taxpayer healthcare for undocumented immigrants; in fact, Biden’s plan allows for a public option for immigrants but it is not taxpayer subsidized.

    The Pennsylvania mailer includes a series of false claims against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris. It also says Biden and Harris support paying reparations for slavery. Both Biden and Harris have stated they support a commission or study to determine what form reparations could take and the link the mailer cites refers to a potential policy idea from Harris’ presidential campaign to fund for mental health treatment as a form of reparations. The mailer lists the Republican Trump-Pence ticket opposing all of these issues. The Pennsylvania mailer also includes a doctored image of Biden holding a Politico newspaper that claims Biden supports sanctuary cities and accompanied by the text, “Are these your Pennsylvania values?”

    The Pennsylvania mailer also includes a doctored image of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden holding a Politico newspaper with a headline that never appeared claiming, falsely, that Biden supports sanctuary cities. An editor for Politico tweeted last week that the outlet never printed such a headline. A spokesperson for Politico confirmed that there was no print edition of Politico on the date mentioned and that the image in the mailer doesn’t include an issue and volume section visible on Politico print’s front pages. They also showed that the mailer’s headline does not match the story that appeared on its website. The other two news clips included in the mailer, which say Biden reversed his position on abortion funding and that LGBTQ rights are his number one priority, are legitimate. The Minnesota mailer does not make overtly false claims, but it does tie the upcoming senatorial election between Democratic candidate Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis to the presidential election and includes politically charged messaging. The mailer says “protect Minnesota from dangerous extremists” and “your vote will be the difference between broken extremism and Minnesota values.”

    The Minnesota mailer sent to voters in August includes what appears to be a legitimate application for an absentee ballot and politically charged messaging to “protect Minnesota from dangerous extremists.”

      A spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s Department of State told CNN in an email it received calls from voters about the Common Sense Voters of America LLC mailers and that it “supports any efforts to encourage participation among eligible voters. Still, we hope registered voters will consider using the Department’s online ballot application at” A spokesperson for Minnesota’s secretary of state office also encouraged online mail-in ballot applications and to make sure that the pre-addressed return envelope provided by third parties is addressed to their county or city elections office, and not another organization.


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