A bail fund promoted by Vice President Kamala Harris freed an alleged domestic abuser just weeks before police arrested him again for murder.
Minneapolis police arrested George Howard on Aug. 29 after the career criminal allegedly shot 38-year-old Luis Martinez Ortiz to death following a road rage incident. Roughly three weeks earlier, the Minnesota Freedom Fund bailed out Howard following a domestic violence charge, the group confirmed in a statement, which it deleted following publication of this article.
"We are aware of reports of the tragic and fatal shooting in Minneapolis earlier this week allegedly involving George Howard, an individual the Minnesota Freedom Fund had previously provided with bail support," the group said Friday. "MFF believes that every individual who has been arrested by the law enforcement is innocent until proven guilty, and if a judge deems them eligible for bail, they should not have to wait in jail simply because they don't have the same income or access to resources as others."
Harris faced criticism on the 2020 campaign trail after she urged her followers to "chip in now" to the Minnesota Freedom Fund "to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota" days after George Floyd's death. According to American Bail Coalition executive director Jeffrey Clayton, the group "definitely got a windfall" in the wake of the Democrat's endorsement, raising a staggering $35 million as violent protests swept the nation.
Just a fraction of the bail money, however, was used to release protesters and rioters. In the months following Floyd's death, the Minnesota Freedom Fund spent nearly $3.5 million bailing people out of jail—just $210,000 went to those who participated in the unrest, Fox News reported in 2020. The group helped release heinous criminals, such as Timothy Wayne Columbus, a 36-year-old man who allegedly penetrated an eight-year-old girl.
In 2018, years before Floyd's death, the Minnesota Freedom Fund raised just $100,000, according to its tax filing.
In addition to Harris's public support, at least 13 Biden campaign staffers trumpeted their donations to the Minnesota Freedom Fund in 2020. Then-campaign spokesman Andrew Bates, who now serves as White House deputy press secretary, defended the staffers who donated, calling cash bail a "modern day debtors prison."
Neither the White House nor the Minnesota Freedom Fund returned a request for comment.