The Kanye Con Job
In fifteen years practicing election law, I have never seen anything as craven and shameful as the Kanye con job Donald Trump and his sycophants have attempted in Wisconsin.
After combing through two challenges to Kanye West’s nomination signatures at the behest of The Lincoln Project, I have come to two conclusions: not only should Kanye be kept off the ballot, but law enforcement should investigate and prosecute several individuals involved in the effort.
Trump and his supporters have spent recent days attempting to place the music mogul on presidential ballots across the country. They believe that a black celebrity on the ballot will pull votes from Joe Biden, who enjoys overwhelming support from Black Americans, and help a flailing Trump campaign in November.
Nevermind that West’s family and friends issued a public plea for him to seek mental health help just two weeks ago.
Nevermind that West cannot qualify for enough state ballots to actually win the presidency.
Nevermind that the fundamental assumption – that black voters will vote for a black man based solely on the color of his skin – is a profoundly racist position.
Get through all that and you still have nomination papers submitted on behalf of West rife with lies, fake signatures and criminal conduct. In a lengthy filing submitted Friday evening, four Wisconsin electors challenged more than half the 2,422 nomination signatures submitted by West on Tuesday. A second, shorter complaint made similar allegations.
The complaints include a laundry list of claims that should discredit enough signatures to reduce West’s nomination papers below the 2,000-signature threshold and disqualify him from Wisconsin’s ballot.
First and foremost, West’s operatives bungled the timing. Current Trump attorney and former Wisconsin GOP counsel, Lane Ruhland, turned the nomination signatures in shortly after 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. The deadline set by statute was 5:00 sharp. That may not seem like much, but Wisconsin courts have been clear that adherence to the statute requires “strict compliance.” Any deviation automatically invalidates the entire submission.
There is a very good chance that the Wisconsin Elections Commission doesn’t even address the rest of the complaint, choosing instead to declare the entire nomination void and the rest of the claims moot. After such a boneheaded mistake, West – or whatever Trump shell-game pawn paid Ruhland – may want to ask for a refund.
Losing at that point may be a mercy for West’s team, though. The remaining claims raise serious issues of misrepresentation and deceit that may border on criminal activity.
More than 1,500 signatures were gathered by circulators who lied to Wisconsin voters or included fake addresses. One circulator told a resident that the papers were “to support increasing minority representation” rather than nominate West for the presidency. Another was informed the papers were to help make “sure people were registered to vote.” A third, who does “not think Kanye West should run for President” and “would never support or vote for him,” was rushed to sign the papers and told they “related to voting.”
Of course, it might be hard to confirm those stories with the signature gatherers because several lied about their addresses which must be provided on the nomination papers.
That is all before the challenges got into the individual signatures that were missing required identification information: printed names, signature dates or the municipality of the resident. Or the patently fake names including Kanye West himself, Bernie Sanders, and Mickey Mouse.
It does beg the question of whether reporting so much false information falls under the umbrella of “fake news”?
Wisconsin voters have been misled, lied to, and cheated. Thankfully, Kanye West likely will not be on their ballots in November. However, the man connected to his “campaign” through so many threads will be on the ballot.
Come Election Day, Wisconsin voters should remember and make sure to vote the real con man, Donald Trump, out of office.
Mario Nicolais is an election law attorney and columnist working with The Lincoln Project, a group of conservatives and Republicans dedicated to beating Donald Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq