Fundamentalist Mormon church inundates local counties with mailings

West Central Tribune, Minnesota/March 14, 2012

Willmar -- County officials in west central Minnesota are scratching their heads trying to figure out why they've been receiving large packets of priority and certified mailings from Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jeffs is serving a life-sentence in Palestine, Texas, for raping two young girls that he claimed were his "spiritual" wives.

The bundles of letters and booklets began arriving a couple months ago to many county commissioners in the region.

Some of the envelopes contained a two-page document; others had 43-page booklets; one held large bound books that were 149 pages long.

The materials contain proclamations and"revelations that appear to warn government entities around the world of "whirlwind judgments" and certain doom if Jeffs' message isn't heeded.

Jeffs, who is president of a group that has been called the "radical" polygamous sect of the Mormon Church, also sends the strong message in the long rambling literature that he should be released from jail.

It's a message that's apparently being mailed to elected county officials as well as national and international leaders, according to one of the booklets that warn of a "judgment on all nations."

So far the Kandiyohi County Commissioners have received approximately seven separate mailings. One of the last mailings weighed almost three pounds.

"Yeah, we're getting them too," said Jake Sieg, Lac qui Parle County auditor.

For a while Lac qui Parle County was getting packages every couple days in a "big fancy envelope" that contained numerous envelopes addressed to individual commissioners and the county attorney, Sieg said.

The commissioners opened the first batch but after that "they never bother to open them. They just throw them in the garbage," he said.

Kandiyohi County Administrator Larry Kleindl said there's a recycling bin right next to the boxes where county commissioners pick up their correspondence. It's where many of the mailings have gone.

Sara Folsted, Renville County administrator, said for a while letters were arriving every week for the county commissioners. "We got them and we put them in their (commissioners') boxes and they chose what to do," Folsted said, adding that the commissioners were a little puzzled about the message of the material and why they were on the receiving end.

When they got the last batch of materials Folsted sent them back to the sender in hopes that it would prevent future mailings.

That's what Swift County Auditor Byron Giese does.

"I refuse any of the ones I can because he (Jeffs) sends many of them certified, so I just don't pick them up at the post office," said Giese. For the packets that arrive in the normal post the board asked Giese to dispose of them.

"They don't get opened," he said, adding that commissioners opened the first five batches and read some of the material but they "started throwing them away after that."

They've received as many as three separate packets in a single day, said Giese, who called the deluge of mail an annoying waste of time and money. One of the most recent packets sent to Swift County cost the sender $9.15 to mail.

If every county in the country has been getting as many mailings as Renville County, Folsted wonders how much money has been spent on stamps. "That's a lot of funds going into postage," she said.

Included in the packets is an order form to purchase more of the materials, which range in price from $1 to $10.

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