Sign-on to letter Condemning Racist Political Ads

End False, Misleading and Racist Political Advertising

Fill in the fields below to add your name to this letter 

January 6th Organizers Back AG Ellison’s Opponent with Racist Ad Campaign

The campaign against Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has been funded by an outside dark-money group, which has blanketed the airwaves with a wave of vicious, false, and racially incendiary advertising. This far-right organization helped organize and fund the Jan. 6 rally that became an assault on the US Capitol. It relies on the same group of wealthy donors and far-right advocacy groups that led the decades-long – and now successful – strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate abortion rights nationwide. This group sees electing Republican candidate Jim Schultz as a key pillar of its radical agenda. He has happily accepted their aid.

The incendiary and false ads are designed to frighten voters with blurry images of crimes in progress, calling Ellison the “criminal's choice” and falsely implying that he has worked to shield violent offenders from the law. The ads unsubtly evoke the notoriously racist 1988 “Willie Horton” ad campaign, which was explicitly designed as an attempt to frighten white voters with stories of a black felon.  

The amount spent on these ads attacking Ellison far outstrips all other advertising expenditures in the race, including by Schultz’s own campaign. In addition, Schultz’s own campaign staff appear to be illegally coordinating these ad buys, as identified in a DFL campaign finance complaint filed a week ago. This allows Schultz to effectively supplement campaign contributions, which are capped under MN law, with hundreds of thousands of unrestricted dollars from wealthy dark-money donors.

By maintaining the legal fiction that these outside dollars are not under his control, Schultz may also be trying to shield his reputation from the scurrilous ads. Schultz, a young man with no courtroom experience and no public leadership experience or profile of any kind, has worked hard to downplay any ties to hard-right groups and their agenda. While he has admitted his powerful personal opposition to abortion rights, he has attempted to argue that these views would be of no consequence in public service. But Schultz’s well-financed supporters provide a strong, and disturbing, clue to his real agenda.

The entity behind the racist and misleading ads calls itself “Minnesota for Freedom.” But legally, no such group exists. 

In reality, the anti-Ellison ads are not coming from Minnesota at all. Instead, Minnesota for Freedom is part of a right-wing dark-money organization in Washington, DC. That group is called RAGA, or the Republican Attorneys General Association. 

RAGA is an ultra-right advocacy organization that helped set in motion the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Although the group’s nominal purpose is to elect Republicans to state attorney general seats, in 2020 it helped promote Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about a stolen election. In 2021, it was revealed that RAGA supported Donald Trump's January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally with a six-figure donation, and made calls to recruit more attendees for the rally

When these facts came to light, a number of RAGA leaders resigned, including the executive director and the attorney general of Georgia. But the group was unchastened, and promoted as its new leader a man named Peter Bisbee – the very same person who had coordinated Jan. 6 recruitment. In other words, the people who organized the Jan. 6 riot are now attempting to elect Jim Schultz as Minnesota AG.

The hard-right rabbit hole goes even deeper. RAGA is heavily funded by dark money, provided by anonymous wealthy donors. However, in public filings, its largest named supporter over the past several years is a group called the Judicial Crisis Network
The Judicial Crisis Network is a legal activist group dedicated to installing right-wing and anti-abortion judges at every level of US government. It was one of the main backers of the Supreme Court nominations of Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh. The group also works to appoint and elect similar judges in places like Minnesota, so that they can help eliminate the state rights that are the final bulwark against the total loss of reproductive choice.

During their confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh were cagey on the topic of abortion rights, assuring critics that they would respect settled law. Nonetheless, they received massive financial support from the Judicial Crisis Network, which knew they’d eliminate Roe v. Wade. Jim Schultz, in the Minnesota attorney general race, has been similarly cagey about abortion. But it’s a safe bet that dark-money supporters like the Judicial Crisis Network wouldn’t fund his election ifthey believed he’d protect women’s rights.

Right-wing activists are targeting Keith Ellison with racialized attacks because he has been one of the country’s most effective attorney generals. Ellison has been a consistent defender of justice and order. After George Floyd was murdered, he worked with law enforcement to reduce unrest on the streets of Minneapolis. He then spent a year ensuring that George Floyd’s killer went to prison. Any other result risked greater strife, perhaps nationwide. Ellison achieved what few others have: he used his office to defend public safety and civil rights all at once. The activists targeting him are trying to send a message: anyone who prosecutes a police officer will be punished, even if ignoring police wrongdoing would cause greater disorder. 

Jim Schultz’s biggest backers believe in a different version of America – one in which some groups are controlled by the law, and other groups are above it. Women's long-established rights are sacrificed, while lawless rioters on Jan. 6 are treated as allies. These groups do not care about Minnesota; they’re not even from Minnesota. They’re here to push their agenda and to install another willing pawn in a game they’ve been playing for decades: dismantling the civil and human rights of women, workers and consumers. In doing so, they haven’t hesitated to reuse the racist smear tactics that defined some of the ugliest campaigns in modern American history.

Go here to add your name to this letter

Myron Orfield, University of Minnesota Law School
Eddie Glaude, Princeton University
john powell, Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley
Ms. Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University
Dr. Khalil Muhammad, Harvard Kennedy School
Adolph Reed Jr, University of Pennsylvania
Rev. Cornell Brooks, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA
John C. Brittain, UDC Professor of Law, Washington, DC
Dr. William Jones, University of Minnesota
Mary Frances Berry, Professor of History and Africana Studies, UPenn
William Jordan Jr., President, Minnesota/Dakotas Area State Conference NAACP
Robin Davis Gibran Kelley, Professor of American History at UCLA, Los Angeles
Professor Rucker Johnson, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley
Yusef Mgeni, NAACP, Saint Paul
Dr. Susan Eaton, Brandeis University
David Rusk, Washington, DC
Julie Borgerding July, NAACP, St. Paul
Marcus King, President, Teamsters Local 331
Andy Dawkins, Former Legislator, Saint Paul
Gary Orfield, Ph.D., UCLA Civil Rights Project
Rev. Dr. Willie D. Francois III, Co-Chair of the Social Justice Commission of the Progressive National Baptist Convention
Paul Jargowsky, Rutgers University, Camden
Professor David Troutt, Rutgers Law School-Newark, Newark
Dr. Camille Charles Ph.d, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Rev. Elijah McDavid, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Richard Tolson, Retired-Bricklayers Union
Rev. Angelique Mason, Bridge Maryland Inc., Baltimore
Rev. Darryl Gray, Progressive National Baptist Convention, St. Louis
Jessica Care moore, Black Women Rock!, Detroit
Tolulope Olasanoye, Collective PAC, Washington
Rev. Stephen Green, Faith for Black Lives, New York
Chad Franklin, Gatekeeper’s, New York
Dr. Miriam Aschkenasy, Harvard Kennedy School
Kimberly Muhammad, South Orange
Nasin Yousuf, Bloomington, MN
Courtney Stein, Duluth, MN
Mrs. Patricia Nima-Mohammed
Jocelyn Ryan, South Orange
Rev. John L Smith, The Episcopal Diocese of Newark
Michael Kruglik, Building One America
Rev. Alan Traher, St Martins Lutheran Church
Jessica Switzer, Chicago
Walter Johnson, Atlantic City NAACP
Mary Anne Degenhart, EMBRACING RACE - The Conversation
Robert Hennessey, Retired attorney, Lakeland, Minnesota
Julia Silverstein, J.D. Candidate at the University of Minnesota Law School
Jeff Levy, Attorney, Providence, RI
Councilman Tom Bullock, Lakewood City Council, OH
Rev. Michael Granzen, Second Presbyterian Church
Melinda Anderson, Maplewood
James Wade, Minneapolis
Louis Moore, Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Kokayi Ampah, Director and Producer, Beverly Hills, CA
Francis Porbeni, Woodbury, MN
Dr. Irma McClaurin, Raleigh, NC
Timm Lippert, NAACP, St Paul
Dennison P Nyberg, Minnetonka, MN
Elsa Batica - Coalition of Asian American Leaders, Saint Paul, MN
Lisa Tabor, Minneapolis
Victoria McWane-Creek, Organization 4 Full Participation, Fergus Falls
Nieeta Presley, NAACP St Paul Roy Wilkins Branch, St Paul
Earl Ross, Minneapolis
Karen Carey-Bonner, Maplewood
Jean Webb-Bradford, Richfield
Pastor Loyace Foreman Jr, New Vision Faith Center, St. Paul
Dr. Charles L. Gill, Pilgrim Baptist Church, St. Paul
Minister James & Pamela Muhammad, NOI, Atlanta, Georgia
Victor Rosenthal, St. Paul
Art Serotoff,  Minneapolis
Tom Sengupta, RetiredPharmacist,
Jean Webb-Bradford, Richfield
Karen Carey-Bonner, Maplewood
Joanna Lees, St. Paul
Virginia Richardson, Minneapolis 
Abdur R. Yasin, Firefighter, West Orange
Hazel Tanner, Minneapolis
Mary K Boyd, Roseville
Cheryl Chatman, Maplewood
Vernice Carter, Maple Grove
Alvin Stafford, Eagan
Emma Eklof, New York
Sheron Thompson, Minneapolis
Jane Prince, City of Saint Paul, Saint Paul
John Mannillo, Saint Paul STRONG, Saint Paul, MN
Tom Goldstein, Lawyer, St. PaulDr. Bara Berg, Family Physician, St. Paul
Mr. Barry Cohen, Ph.D., Saint Paul
Bob Goonin, , Minneapolis
Kathleen Witcher, Irvington NAACP, Irvington
Rebecca Hamblin, Minneapolis
Andrea Bond Esq., Saint Paul
Sylvia Schwarz, , St. Paul
Rukhsana Ghouse, Woodbury
Farida Sadrud-Din, Chicago
Sue Snyder, St Paul
Dr. Virgil Mathiowetz, MEPN, St. Paul
Dan Kaisershot, Minneapolis
Bill Ostrem, Collingswood
Ellen Olsen, Public school educator, Saint Paul
Kelly Robinson, Maple Grove
Ingrid French, Embracing Race, Collingswood
Fill in the fields below to be included as a signer
Email and phone not for the letter. Only to stay in touch with you.