In the latest gaffe in her bid for re-election, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., endorsed false claims made in a Facebook ad paid for by her state's Democratic Party that say the state’s hunters could lose their hunting licenses in nearby states if they vote Tuesday.
Heitkamp, who’s trailing Republican challenger Kevin Cramer on average by 11 points, hasn't backpedaled from the endorsement, telling reporters that it is “really important that people understand the consequences of voting.”
She also said the ad is true. “Voting means you are a resident, it means you pay taxes here, it means that if you want a residential hunting license in Minnesota, it means you’re not going to get that, if you vote here,” Heitkamp said.
The Facebook ad, paid by the North Dakota Democratic-NPL, warns North Dakota hunters that they may have to forfeit their out-of-state licenses if they vote in this election.
“If you want to keep your out-of-state hunting licenses, you may not want to vote in North Dakota,” the ad says, linking to a similar warning on the North Dakota Democratic-NPL website.
“By voting in North Dakota, you could forfeit your hunting licenses. You MUST be a resident of North Dakota to vote here. And if you are a resident of North Dakota, you may lose hunting licenses you have in other states,” the website said.
"If you want to keep your out-of-state hunting licenses, you may not want to vote in North Dakota."
But the warning pushed by Heitkamp and the state Democratic Party is false, according to left-leaning fact-checker PolitiFact, which rated the claim that hunters could lose their licenses as a result of voting as “Pants on Fire.”
“It’s hard to interpret this in any way except that it seeks to discourage people from voting. But voting will not cost anyone their hunting licenses,” the fact-checker’s verdict read.
"It’s hard to interpret this in any way except that it seeks to discourage people from voting. But voting will not cost anyone their hunting licenses."
The state Republican Party slammed the Democrats for pushing the falsehood.
“Heidi Heitkamp is using her anti-Kavanaugh campaign coffers to suppress voter turnout in North Dakota,” Jake Wilkins, the North Dakota GOP spokesman, told Fox News, adding she’s “made it clear that she only cares about winning re-election, not helping her constituents.”
The efforts to suppress the voters follow Heitkamp's decision to essentially throw in the towel in the race, giving away nearly $3 million of her campaign money to the state Democratic Party to support other races in the state.
This came after a series of gaffes and voting decisions that gave a significant boost to her Republican opponent.
Last month, she was forced to apologize after publicly naming victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in an attack ad aimed at her Republican challenger without their consent.
“I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction, personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this and taking the necessary steps to ensure this never happens again,” she said in a statement.
Then she was called out for Facebook post that used a photo of a World War II veteran without his permission.
But the most damaging was Heitkamp’s decision to vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She voted against Kavanaugh even as all the polling showed North Dakotans were less likely to support her if she voted no.
“That spectacle proved to be perhaps the greatest political gift I’ve been given in a very long time,” Cramer told Fox News, referring to the Kavanaugh confirmation process.
Fox News' Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.