By Scott McClallen | The Center Square
The Minneapolis Police Department said it’s investigating allegations of ballot harvesting after a right-leaning group published footage of someone appearing to collect hundreds of white envelopes identified as absentee ballots.
Project Veritas, run by conservative activist James O’Keefe, released edited footage Sunday night claiming U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s supporters in Minneapolis were ballot harvesting – defined as when a third party collects ballots from the homes of voters and drops them off at polling stations.
It’s illegal to harvest more than three ballots in Minnesota.
Project Veritas reported a man identified as Liban Mohamed bragged about stacks of ballots in his car in Snapchat videos posted July 1 and July 2.
Mohamed claimed he was being paid for collecting ballots, including 300 ballots for Jamal Osman – his brother and a Minneapolis City Council member
“I have 300 ballots in my car right now… Numbers don’t lie,” Mohamed said in the video.
Osman denied the report.
President Donald Trump called for an investigation.
“This is totally illegal,” he tweeted. “Hope that the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota has this, and other of her [referring to Omar] many misdeeds, under serious review??? If not, why not??? We will win Minnesota because of her, and law enforcement. Saved Minneapolis & Iron O Range!”
Omar Jamal, the chair of the Somali Watchdog group, was the only on-the-record source for Project Veritas’ first of two videos related to allegations of Minnesota vote harvesting.
“I think [Mohamed] was [working for] both Ilhan Omar and Jamal [Osman], but I think he was more with Ilhan Omar,” Jamal said.
The video alleged Omar’s campaign deputy director Ali Isse Gainey coordinated ballot harvesting.
Project Veritas blurred faces of other sources, so it’s unclear if the sources are credible. Project Veritas has been accused of misrepresenting facts and editing video in previous reports.
After Project Veritas released the video and Trump quote-tweeted it to his 86 million followers, Jamal started a Gofundme that’s garnered $27,000 of it’s $500,000 goal.
Jamal claimed Omar paid ballot harvesters to take absentee ballots from elderly residents in apartment complexes and gave them to candidate campaigns to fill out.
Omar’s campaign denied the report and said no one in the video was part of her reelection staff.
“The amount of truth to this story is equal to the amount Donald Trump paid in taxes in ten out of the last fifteen years: zero,” Jeremy Slevin, Ilhan for Congress Senior Advisor, said in a statement. “And amplifying a coordinated right-wing campaign to delegitimize a free and fair election this fall undermines our democracy.”
“Ballot harvesting is real and it has become a big business,” O’Keefe said. “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.”
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, sent letters requesting an investigation from U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Steve Simon.
Minnesota is one of several battleground states in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Minnesota with 46.4 percent of the vote, beating President Donald Trump by only 44,593 votes.