A Trump campaign spokesperson says two men dressed as armed security guards who set up in a tent outside an early voting location in downtown St. Petersburg were not hired by the campaign.
Thea McDonald, Deputy National Press Secretary for the Trump campaign, told 8 On Your Side: “The Campaign did not hire these individuals nor did the Campaign direct them to go to the voting location.”
Julie Marcus, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, told 8 On Your Side the men set up a tent outside an early voting site on Wednesday and claimed to be with the Trump campaign.
“The Sheriff [Bob Gualtieri] told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff’s deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company and they indicated—and this has not been confirmed yet—that they were hired by the Trump campaign,” said Marcus in a video interview with 8 On Your Side’s Chip Osowski Wednesday night.
Marcus, a Republican, is running to keep her seat as supervisor after being appointed in May of this year by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Gualtieri, also a Republican, is running for re-election as well.
“The sheriff and I take this very seriously,” Marcus said. “Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way shape, or form. So we anticipated many things going into this election. Not only cybersecurity, but physical security and we had a plan in place and executed that plan.”
In the first presidential debate last month, President Trump encouraged his supporters to go to the polls to watch what happens there.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said. “Because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke with News Channel 8 on Tuesday about his plans to thwart any potential voter intimidation. He said he’s been working closely with Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus to make polling places safe.
“I just don’t want to get too deep into the specifics because we’re trying to balance it,” Gualtieri told 8 On Your Side political reporter Evan Donovan. “But I’ll say it’s a combination of uniformed personnel who will be in the area and also we’re gonna use some undercover personnel just to monitor the situation.”
Dustin Chase, deputy supervisor of elections in Pinellas County, told 8 On Your Side the men setup outside the Supervisor of Elections Office in the County Building, which is located at 501 First Ave. North.
Marcus told 8 On Your Side that Gualtieri plans to have a deputy presence specifically outside that polling place on Thursday.
Deputies with Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office came to the polling place on Wednesday and spoke to the guards, who said they were hired by the Trump campaign and said they would be out tomorrow at the early voting location.
It is illegal in the state of Florida to bring a gun to a polling place, and Gualtieri says intimidation won’t be allowed either.
The Joe Biden campaign issued a statement against voter intimidation tactics in Florida.
“In the United States of America, we cannot and will not stand for any behavior that could intimidate voters from participating in our democracy. Our country stands for freedom, liberty, and democracy, and these scare tactics have no place in our state. It’s clear that those running scared will try anything in the closing weeks of the election. There are no excuses for this behavior. We are committed to making sure every Floridian can vote and every vote is counted.”
Please note even when told by police it was illegal the guys said they would be back tomorrow. What will the police do? If they were black or media they would be beaten, maybe shot, and arrested. White Republican armed thugs supporting tRump … complete pass. Hugs