Asian American voters targeted with anti-Black and Latino election fliers

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A Denver Elections worker collects ballots from a dropbox on Lincoln Street in Denver. Oct. 26, 2022.

During election season, Susanna Park and her husband, both unaffiliated, get a lot of campaign mail — a lot.

But this week, one flier stood out.

“It has a very specific message on race. And there are big fonts: ‘Asian Americans’, or [in] big font, ‘skin color.’ Those are all really accented in these flyers versus other flyers,” Park explained. 

The mailer showed a fake job ad that said “whites and Asians need not apply” and alleged that Democratic President Joe Biden, who is not on the ballot this year, and “left-wing officials are engaged in widespread racial discrimination against White and Asian Americans.”

Park found it offensive, and unsettling. 

“It reminds me of a lot of the anti-Asian oppression that's been going on within the recent years of COVID,” she said. “This rhetoric also tries to pit minority communities against each other as well. So it's discouraging in a lot of ways.”

The piece of political mail came from the America First Legal Foundation, aligned with former Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller, known for pushing anti-immigraiton policies during the administration. His group was also behind a transphobic flier sent to Latino voters in the state.

The flier Park got has been showing up in states from New Jersey to California and Texas. In Colorado, CPR heard about it appearing in the mailboxes of Asian-American voters from Denver to Arapahoe and Jefferson counties.

In Douglas County, small business owners Shirley and Kevin Leung received the flier on Friday. He immigrated from Hong Kong over 30 years ago, she immigrated from the Phillipines almost 38 years ago and they say they’ve lived the American Dream.

Shirley, who is unaffiliated, didn’t like the message the flier was sending. “I’m upset about the division they are creating,” she said. 

Kevin, a registered Republican, noted that Biden isn’t on the ballot this year so that the “only thing I can think of [it] is to stir up fear so that we will all vote for a particular party down the line.”

“We strongly disagree with what they say about equity. If you look at the dictionary, equity is fairness and impartial,” he added.

And it will backfire with this couple. “We’re not voting for them,” they said. “Sorry, they targeted the wrong people.”

Because America First Legal Foundation is a charity, it doesn’t have to disclose its donors. It is also barred by IRS rules from advocating for or against any candidates up for office this cycle. 

The flier is hitting mailboxes after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether colleges and universities can use affirmative action in making admissions decisions.

“Colorado voters of color are wrongfully being targeted and bombarded with harmful disinformation from Trump-ally Stephen Miller in the last few weeks leading up to the election,” said Colorado Democratic Party chair Morgan Carroll. She urged GOP candidates to condemn “these nasty political tactics made possible by undisclosed dark money.”

Park said the flier affirmed her decision to focus more on her community —“that includes people of other racial minorities, people who are disabled people, all these things” — rather than the political pettiness that shows up in her mailbox.

As for the flier, Park said with a laugh, “We have a shredder. I shredded that real good.”