The Nevada Republican Party asked federal law enforcement to investigate a Culinary Union chapter for illegally tampering with mailboxes while canvassing for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
In a Monday letter sent to U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas Trutanich, party chairman Michael McDonald highlighted a recent canvassing effort in which a member of Culinary Union Local 226 was pictured leaving campaign literature in a voter's mailbox. Under federal law, "only U.S. Postal Service delivery personnel are allowed to place items in a mailbox" in order to "ensure the integrity of our customer's mailbox," according to a 2010 USPS press release.
"Not only are such actions a violation of Federal law and a violation of Nevada citizens' right to privacy, they open the door to potential fraud and ballot manipulation in a year where Nevadans will be nearly universally voting by mail," the letter states. "And if operatives are going door to door and placing campaign literature in mailboxes, nothing would stop an unscrupulous canvasser from removing live ballots from mailboxes and filling them out for their preferred candidate or removing them from households and simply throwing them away."
The canvassing effort was highlighted in a Monday Los Angeles Times article that said union members Maria Magana and Atilano Salgado "took turns asking voters in English, Spanish and a combination if they would support Joe Biden for president." Magana was later pictured depositing campaign literature in a Las Vegas mailbox.
"If they're leaning or undecided, we'll see if they've made up their minds," Salgado told the Los Angeles Times. "If they support Biden, we'll make sure they vote."
The union told the Washington Free Beacon that Magana "acted inadvertently and without authorization."
"Culinary Union member canvassers have had a clear written instruction about voter mailboxes from the beginning of the campaign efforts: ‘Don't put anything in a voter's mailbox,'" spokeswoman Bethany Khan said. "We have reemphasized this instruction to the entire canvass team and met with the canvasser in question, who acted inadvertently and without authorization."
Clark County—which includes the city of Las Vegas—mailed sample ballots to voters on September 25 and is scheduled to mail official ballots on Saturday, according to the Nevada secretary of state. Thirteen Nevada counties have already mailed official ballots to voters.
"Put simply, the election is underway," McDonald's letter says. "In the year 2020, the integrity of our elections is at stake, and we cannot allow potentially rogue activists to compromise them."
Culinary Union Local 226 has long supported Democrats, spending nearly $1.5 million to boost former president Barack Obama in the 2008 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The chapter is an affiliate of hospitality labor group UNITE HERE, which has spent more than $16.1 million backing Democrats over the last three decades. Both the Culinary Union and UNITE HERE have endorsed Biden for president.