UPDATE: This post has been updated to include an email Taylor Grenawalt sent to Lt. Governor candidate Lisa Brown, as well.
UPDATE 2: Grenawalt has scrubbed his Facebook and LinkedIn pages, removing references to working for the Snyder campaign.
UPDATE 3: Grenawalt has been fired from the Snyder campaign. Details HERE.
In late May, an aspiring college-aged man named Taylor Grenawalt contacted the Mark Schauer for Governor campaign, asking how and where he could get a chance to see the candidate in person and get to know him better. He had been “staying very in tune” with Michigan politics and had been “gaining interest in Mark Schauer,” he said. He was reaching out because he wanted to “see the direction [Schauer] would take Michigan in.”
Here’s the email he sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
This week, Grenawalt followed up with another email with an offer to volunteer for the campaign. This time the email was sent directly to one of the campaign staffers:
Leaving no stone unturned, Grenawalt also contacted Mark Schauer’s running mate Lisa Brown with the same sort of email:
The Schauer/Brown campaign did a bit of checking into Taylor Grenawalt and, without much effort, discovered that he is, in fact, an intern with Governor Rick Snyder’s reelection campaign. Here’s a screenshot of his Facebook page, taken this afternoon:
Note that in the “About” section, Grenawalt lists himself as an intern for Rick Snyder. [Grenawalt removed this from his profile sometime after the publication of this post.]
His LinkedIn page has the same information:
On his LinkedIn page, he describes his role in the Snyder campaign as doing “data research and analysis for Governor Rick Snyder’s reelection campaign”. He’s also a follower of the conservative Federalist Society and the corporatist Heritage Foundation. [Grenawalt also removed reference to his work with the Snyder campaign from his LinkedIn page after I published this piece.]
This is not the first time something like this has been tried. Back in March, the Snyder campaign sent a videographer posing as a CNN employee to videotape Mark Schauer at a campaign event. The videographer, Jeff Steinborn, was part of Fred Davis’s media team, a group that produced some of Rick Snyder’s campaign ads like the very bizarre scuba diving ad.
A trip around Facebook shows that Grenawalt is, indeed, a major supporter of Governor Snyder. He posted a Rick Snyder campaign video on several Michigan College Republican pages. Here’s a sampling of a few of them (there are LOTS of others, he was busy on June 17th):
Not surprisingly, the Schauer campaign declined to hire the young Republican poseur. I spoke with Schauer campaign Communications Director Zack Pohl and asked him if the Schauer campaign sends interns to the Snyder campaign to infiltrate as was clearly done here. He told me emphatically, “No. The Schauer campaign has never sent anyone to volunteer, intern, or work for another campaign.”
“It looks like Republican Rick Snyder has sunk to a new low,” Pohl continued. “First he sent a campaign staffer to pose as a fake CNN reporter at a Schauer town hall and now he’s sending interns to spy on our campaign. This is a desperate and Nixonian move, and the people of Michigan deserve better from our governor. Snyder needs to stop the dirty tricks and apologize.”
While this may not rise to the level of Watergate, these are classic “dirty tricks”, for sure. It’s clear that the Snyder campaign is freaked out by Mark Schauer’s ever-increasing popularity and the ever-narrowing gap in the race. Given that Grenawalt just completed his freshman year at Brown, it’s pretty unlikely that he was acting on his own. I reached out to him for an on the record comment but he did not respond.
It’s pretty lame that a Governor who claims to be a man of such high integrity with such profound business acumen would stoop to such petty and pathetic tactics as this. This incident is just one more example of many that show that Rick Snyder is a charlatan pretending to be something he is not. He is, at the end of the day, a typical Republican who is willing to use any dirty trick necessary to win because his policies and positions are so unpopular in Michigan.