A leader of the Minnesota Republican Party spoke out Thursday after a campaign video shown at the party's convention depicted an antisemitic trope, drawing condemnation from the DFL and Jewish community leaders.
The video aired before Kim Crockett's speech at the Minnesota Republican State Party Convention. Crockett, the GOP-endorsed candidate for secretary of state, has faced allegations of bigotry in the past.
In a statement, MN GOP Chairman David Hann said staff from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) approached him about the issue.
He said Crockett and her team were not aware that a sequence depicting George Soros, the prominent progressive Jewish philanthropist, controlling two Minnesota elections officials – who are also Jewish – like marionettes was antisemitic.
“As discussed with the JCRC, I have concluded after talking with Ms. Crockett that the depiction of Mr. Soros was not intended as antisemitic, and that neither Ms. Crockett nor her creative team were aware that the depiction of a puppet-master invokes an old but persistent antisemitic trope," Hann said.
The video portrays Soros as a puppet master influencing Minnesota's elections with puppet strings attached to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and elections lawyer Marc Elias.
"The MNGOP strongly condemns the rise of antisemitism in recent years from all corners, including on both sides of the political aisle," Hann said in a statement. "We wish to assure the JCRC and our friends in the broader Jewish community that the image was not intended to invoke hostility toward the Jewish people."
"It should not have happened, we apologize, and are committed to working with the JCRC to educate our staff and candidates on antisemitism," he continued.
The GOP's apology comes a day after Jacob Millner, the Upper Midwest regional director for the American Jewish Committee, and others publicly denounced the video.
"Kim Crockett must immediately apologize and repudiate this bigotry," Millner stated.
"This kind of ugly imagery fuels extremism, hatred and violence," Steve Simon stated on Twitter. "It has no place in Minnesota politics, and every candidate should condemn it."
Elias said the video was shameful, but not surprising.
Michael Brodkorb, a former Minnesota GOP operative, suggested on Twitter that based upon the Minnesota GOP's own convention rules, party officials would likely have seen – and presumably approved – the video prior to it being shared at the convention.
In 2018, the Anti-Defamation League published an article detailing the rise of Soros-related conspiracy theories in the United States.
The American Jewish Committee notes that criticizing Soros' politics isn't in itself antisemitic, but portraying him as a symbol "for Jewish control, wealth, and power" is.
In a 2017 report analyzing antisemitic speech on Twitter, the ADL found that Soros figured prominently in a significant number of antisemitic posts.
In Minnesota, antisemitic incidents rose 226% last year compared to 2020, the most recent data shows.