A convicted double-murderer serving a life sentence is running for the U.S. Senate from his prison cell in Minnesota, where it is legally allowed.
Leonard Richards, a 75-year-old inmate at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, is on the ballot in Minnesota running against Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) as a U.S. Senate candidate with the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, the Star Tribune reported.
Richards was convicted of murdering two people — his half-sister, May Wilson, in 1982 and then his attorney, Robert Stratton, in 1987.
Although Minnesota law bans inmates from running for state offices, they are allowed to run for federal office.
Even though Richards is incarcerated for life without parole, he has used the loophole in the law to get his name on the ballot for federal office several times. He has not won a single election and cannot legally take the oath of office to serve as a federally elected official, but thousands of people have voted for him.
He first ran for a congressional seat in the 1992 Democratic Primary, receiving over 14,500 votes. The jailbird candidate ran for Congress again in 1994 and won more than 4,000 votes.
Stratton’s sister, who is not thrilled that her brother’s murderer is gaining notoriety as a legally-recognized candidate, reached out to Minnesota’s Secretary of State Office to see if they could keep Richards from putting his name on the ballot.
The office told her that “they were aware of Richards’ conviction and could do nothing to keep him off the ballot.”
Bert Black, a legal adviser for the Minnesota Secretary of State, told multiple news outlets that courts have ruled that the state cannot prohibit convicted felons from filing a petition to run for office.
“The only valid requirements are that you be of a certain age and that you live in the state on Election Day, essentially,” Black said.
Not all of Richards’ bids for elected office have been successful. When he tried to run for Congress in 2015, he could not get a notary to sign off on his campaign, the Daily Mail reported.