LeBron James fires back at misleading ads against mail-in voting using his image
NBA star LeBron James on Friday shut down a misleading ad that quotes him and uses his image while promoting the unfounded theory that voting by mail leads to widespread voter fraud.
In a series of tweets, James condemned anyone using his or others’ names to “lie and deceive about the election” and said “misinformation=suppression.” His tweets linked to an article by The Washington Post that reported on the misleading ad.
“First of all, Everyone needs to know the kind of BS happening about this election and get organized,” the Los Angeles Laker tweeted. “Secondly, Nobody should be able to use my name (or anyone else name) to lie and deceive about the election. Not sure what we can do legally but definitely trying to figure it out!”
Secondly, Nobody should be able to use my name (or anyone else name) to lie and deceive about the election. Not sure what we can do legally but definitely trying to figure it out! #StayWoke #LoveMyPeople✊
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 21, 2020
According to the Post, a website called Protect My Vote, has been echoing warnings President Trump has promoted without evidence that mail-in voting will increase voter fraud and result in “lost votes and lost rights.”
The website is reportedly backed by the nonprofit FreedomWorks, which is known for its work assembling and promoting Tea Party protests.
Protect My Vote’s Facebook page has run a number of paid posts featuring James’s image. The posts also quote James calling the act of closing polling stations “systemic racism and oppression.”
James made the comment in a tweet in June about Georgia and Kentucky closing polling places during primary voting in each state. Protect My Vote, however, inaccurately suggests James said efforts to expand mail-in voting were “systemic racism and oppression.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2020
In a statement to the Post, an adviser to James, Adam Mendelsohn, called the ads “shameless” and “reprehensible.”
FreedomWorks told the Post that a “partner group” was responsible for creating the Protect My Vote website and ads, and that the James ad is “not our ad.”
James has actively worked to increase voter turnout and formed More Than a Vote with fellow basketball stars in June following worldwide protests over racial inequality and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James said at the time the group was launched. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
Other current and former NBA players involved with the effort include Trae Young, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jalen Rose.
The misleading ad comes as intelligence officials warn of misinformation tactics being used on social media platforms ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Voting by mail, meanwhile, has landed at the center of political debate as the coronavirus pandemic leaves people questioning the safety of voting in person. Trump and some conservatives have suggested the expansion of voting by mail in response to the pandemic would lead to skewed election results, though there is no evidence to suggest that would happen.
The U.S. Postal Service also faces funding and delay problems that it says could impact whether all ballots sent by mail are counted in time for the election.