US President Donald Trump has called for an investigation following the release of an explosive Project Veritas report that claims to have exposed a cash-for-ballots operation linked to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
A 17-minute video released by the conservative investigative undercover news organization includes testimonials from purported whistleblowers and Minneapolis residents, who detail how ballots are allegedly illegally collected from elderly Somali immigrants. In some cases, operatives pay cash in exchange for votes, the report claims.
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe described the investigation as “fraud on videotape” and a “crime on camera.”
Testimonials from several individuals implicated Omar, the country’s first Somali-immigrant congresswoman, in the scheme.
A Minneapolis community leader, Omar Jamal, said it was an “open secret” that Omar runs a cash-for-ballots operation in her congressional district, which includes Minneapolis.
“She [Ilhan Omar] will do anything that she can do to get elected, and she has hundreds of people on the streets doing that,” Jamal told Project Veritas.
One man involved in the operation who spoke with the news organization said that “people who work with Ilhan Omar” fill out ballots for Somali immigrants, and then tell them that “this year you’re going to vote for” the congresswoman.
The expose also includes Snapchat footage of alleged vote harvester Liban Mohamed, who brags on camera about the piles of ballots piled up on the dashboard of his car.
“Money is the king in this world … and a campaign is driven by money,” he is heard saying. In the clip, he says the ballots are for his brother, Minneapolis city council member Jamal Osman, but the election for the city council position was held on the same day as the primary for Omar’s MN-05 congressional seat.
O’Keefe said these activities violate Minnesota law, which prohibits a “designated agent” from collecting more than three absentee votes.
“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,” O’Keefe said in a statement.
Trump appeared to agree with this assessment and fired off a tweet calling for an inquiry into the matter.
“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,” the US president wrote.
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
Omar responded to the tweet with a meme referencing allegations that Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. However, she did not address the allegations leveled by Project Veritas.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) September 28, 2020
Ballot harvesting or ballot collecting is the practice of third parties collecting mail-in votes and delivering them to election officials. It is legal in many states to help physically impaired voters cast their ballots. However, it has sparked a series of legal challenges in Minnesota. Earlier this month, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that “Minnesotans can still only help deliver and return up to three other voters’ absentee ballots under special circumstances,” local media reported.
Trump has been warning for weeks that states’ plans to use mail-in ballots for November’s presidential election could lead to voter fraud – an allegation the Democrats have dismissed.
Omar, an outspoken Trump critic, is widely viewed as a rising progressive star within the Democratic Party, having entered Congress in 2017. The Veritas investigation, if found to be accurate, could have a profound effect on how Minnesota votes in November. Hillary Clinton narrowly won the state in 2016.
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