A company collecting signatures to strip Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of her emergency powers coached paid petition circulators on giving voters false information, illegally collecting signatures without witnessing them, trespassing on private property, and even lying under oath, a secretly recorded videotape shows.
The profanity-peppered training session provides an inside look at the world of paid signature gatherers and could potentially pose problems for Unlock Michigan’s attempts to certify the close to 500,000 signatures the group hopes to collect. It is the second example of irregularities in the Unlock Michigan signature collection process the Free Press has highlighted.
“This can be a real shady job,” Tisinger tells the trainees. “And when I say shady, I mean, people do all sorts of illegal s— all the time and never get caught. It’s really hard to get caught doing s— except for, like, forgeries.”
Tisinger then tells the trainees, who are paid $3.50 per signature, that he does not want them to do illegal things, but “you can.” He then, in some cases, proceeds to tell them how to do illegal things, while explicitly warning them to avoid only forging signatures, as that’s too time-consuming and easy to detect.
Unlock Michigan is trying to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, which Whitmer is using to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
In August, the Free Press reported that another company involved in collecting signatures, Let the People Decide, has a history of alleged “bait and switch” tactics in paid petition drives around the U.S., in which people were allegedly given inaccurate descriptions of what the initiatives would do, and the company is headed by a man who has a criminal record for falsifying his voter registration.
In the video, Tisinger, who describes himself as a manager from California, tells prospective signature gatherers:
- To tell voters who are “on the fence” that signing the petition will only have the effect of putting the repeal of the emergency law on the ballot, so that all voters can decide its fate. “Don’t you think that everybody should get the chance to vote on this?” Tisinger does not tell the trainees that the plan is to bypass voters by having the GOP-controlled Legislature approve the initiative and thereby repeal the law, in a move that Whitmer would be unable to veto, under Michigan law.
- That they can leave copies of their petitions with store clerks to collect signatures from customers, although Tisinger tells them it is illegal for them to collect signatures without witnessing them being signed.
- That the Unlock Michigan petition drive is so contentious that they might end up being deposed in a courtroom over the signatures they collect, and whether they properly witnessed them, but that it is “super easy” to give misleading testimony about such questions.
- That it is illegal to collect signatures on private property such as store parking lots without permission, but that they should avoid store managers and “act stupid” if approached by police about trespassing. “Act like you don’t know anything,” Tisinger said. “I had no idea I couldn’t do that here, man.”
Mark Fisk, a spokesman for Keep Michigan Safe, said any suggestion of a setup is absurd and completely false.
“They got caught red-handed again, and they’re trying to weasel out of it,” Fisk said.
“Unscrupulous and illegal tactics have become standard operating procedure for Unlock Michigan and this video showing a trainer encouraging people to break the law and lie under oath fits into a disturbing pattern.”
There is more at the link above. More criminal activity seen as normal for Republicans who choose to win at any cost. Hugs