FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
June 6, 2017
Did Brian Calley Use Paid, Out-of-State ‘Supporters’ for Part-Time Legislature Announcement?
Questions need to be asked of the lieutenant governor about what he knew and his role
LANSING — “What you will see over the course of this summer is the most high-tech, effective, grassroots campaign, a movement to amend Michigan’s constitution…move over establishment, because the people of the State of Michigan are about to take the driver’s seat,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley during his announcement for a part-time legislature proposal. However, evidence compiled by government watchdog group Progress Michigan suggests Calley may have imported his supposed “grassroots” from outside the state.
Progress Michigan believes that Brian Calley may have used out-of-state, paid “supporters” on Mackinac Island to act as visual props of support for his controversial part-time legislature proposal. The practice may even be part of the canvassing operation as the effort has begun collecting signatures.
“We’ve got some questions for Brian Calley that need to be asked, including whether he paid people to come from out of state and support his campaign, or if he was aware this was taking place at all. And if he didn’t pay them, who did? Because thus far, his campaign seems like the furthest thing from the grassroots of Michigan,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.
Progress Michigan was on the island protesting outside of Calley’s announcement and discovered national staff from the right-wing Young Americans for Liberty — including the organization’s president — leading the supporters, passing out CleanMIGovt.org t-shirts to participants and leading chants of “Clean It Up!” Additionally, tweets from event participants suggest many of them may not even be from the state.
On May 23rd, YAL Director of Mobilization Justin Greiss posted on his Facebook page, “I have 5 spots left for a deployment May 29th. Paid campaign work!” A week later, on May 30 — the day of Calley’s announcement — he posted a photo to Facebook showing a number of young people on a ferry with the caption: “What happens when 100 liberty activists decide to take over a state? The world will see soon.” In that same post, Greiss tagged over a dozen people, of which some were listed on Facebook as living or working in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah. View the screen shots here.
There was additional evidence of the supporters being from out-of-state, including:
- Aaron Sobczak, whose Facebook profile says he lives in Suffolk, Virginia, tweeted on May 30th that he was “…in Michigan making sure that government is kept clean!” See the screen shot.
- In a tweet that has since been deleted, James Thompson, whose Twitter profile says he’s from Utah, tweeted several photos from the island saying, “Excited to help launch the #CleanMiGovt initiative with @briancalley in #Michigan” and tagged himself at the Village Inn Restaurant, where Calley made his announcement. The tweet, which was saved by Progress Michigan, can be viewed here.
- In a photo taken by Progress Michigan, Garrett Scronce, who is listed as YAL leadership in Pennsylvania, can be seen standing in the crowd. The photo can be viewed here.
- Caleb Cashdollar, who was tagged in Greiss’ Facebook post, posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page collecting signatures on June 4th for the effort in Michigan, but his Linkedin and FB profiles suggest he’s not from Michigan, rather Oklahoma.
“It’s incredibly disingenuous for Brian Calley to say he wants to ‘clean up’ Michigan by paying people from out-of-state to try to change our constitution,” Scott continued. “Instead of gimmicks to give his likely gubernatorial campaign a boost, Calley should focus on fixing the real messes he and his Republican colleagues have created, like the Flint Water Crisis and Michigan’s roads.”
Progress Michigan is asking the following of Brian Calley:
- Is Brian Calley paying people to come from out of state and support his campaign? If not, who is?
- Was Calley aware that this was taking place?
- What is his involvement with the organization that seems to be organizing these paid supporters?
- Is Calley aware of canvassers for his proposal being paid to do the work?