Ohio Secretary of State sued by Kanye West campaign demanding Ohio candidacy

By: - August 28, 2020 12:35 am

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

Ohio’s Secretary of State is being sued by Kanye West, who is attempting to compel the state’s elections chief to put his name on the November ballot.

West and his running mate, Michelle Tidball, are listed as parties in court documents filed Wednesday with the Ohio Supreme Court, against Frank LaRose. West and Tidball are represented by Cincinnati attorney Curt C. Hartman.

In the suit, Hartman argued LaRose must accept the candidacy and petitions for West and Tidball to run for president and vice president because LaRose himself did not reject the candidacy, therefore his refusal to certify West and Tidball’s name on the official ballot “constitutes an abuse of discretion and/or an act in clear disregard of applicable legal provisions.”

Hartman also claims the mere rejection of the West/Tidball candidacy is an abuse of the law as well.

The complaint was filed as a “writ of mandamus,” which, according to Ohio law, can be filed to force elected officials and governmental officers to perform the duties of their office. Hartman’s argument lies in the fact that the rejection letter sent to the campaign was sent by Amanda Grandjean, LaRose’s elections director, and not the Secretary of State himself.

“To date, Frank LaRose has not personally rejected the statements of candidacy and nominating petition of Kanye West and Michelle Tidball,” Hartman wrote.

On Aug. 21, LaRose said West and Tidball had “failed to meet the requirements necessary to appear on the presidential ballot in Ohio,” based on a review of documents submitted by the West campaign.

LaRose said the information and “a signature on the original nominating petition and statement of candidacy submitted to the secretary’s office do not match that of the nominating petition and the statement of candidacy” used to circulate the petitions.

“There is no doubt that the West nominating petition and declaration of candidacy failed to meet the necessary threshold for certification,” LaRose said in a statement.

In demanding certification for the election, Hartman said the Secretary of State’s Office abused their office by rejecting the signatures on the documents “premised solely and exclusively upon the subjective opinion of Amanda Grandjean.”

West was also disqualified in Wisconsin after officials said the nomination documents were received after the deadline and the campaign did not turn in enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Hartman also said the West campaign’s candidacy should be validated because no one in Ohio had officially filed protest.

“Neither Kanye West, Michelle Tidball, nor Kanye 2020 have received any notice from the Secretary of State that a protest has been filed with the Secretary of State concerning statements of candidacy and nominating petition of (West and Tidball) to be candidates for presidents and vice-president of the United States,” Hartman wrote in a filing with the state’s highest court.

West is set to appear on the ballot in eight states, but has been rejected in several other states in addition to Ohio and Wisconsin. A recent poll put support for West’s campaign at 2% nationwide, and some have argued the campaign is boosted by Republican operatives who support President Donald Trump.

West’s legal representation in Ohio has eyes on November himself. Hartman is running on the Republican ticket to become a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.