On May 30th, when Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley announced his candidacy for governor ahead of the 2018 election, he told the audience, “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,” he said, “Because the people of the State of Michigan are about to take the driver’s seat.” This past weekend at the Mackinac Policy Conference, voters got a look at what “grassroots” means to Lt. Gov. Calley. Apparently it means bringing in dozens of out-of-state students to work for him. The progressive watchdog group Progress Michigan was also on Mackinac Island that weekend and got a first-hand look at Calley’s “grassroots” operation would look like:
The guy in the blue shirt on the left is Justin Greiss, Director of Mobilization for Young Americans for Liberty, a conservative youth group based in Arlington, Virginia. Greiss had put up a Facebook post on May 23rd to recruit people to become paid “grassroots” supporters of Lt. Gov. Calley. “I have 5 spots left for a deployment May 29th. Paid campaign work!” the post said. The day of Calley’s announcement he posted a photo of bunch of students on a ferry to the island with the caption, “What happens when 100 liberty activists decide to take over a state? The world will see soon.” The people he tagged in the post were from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah.
Progress Michigan found other evidence that Calley’s “grassroots” supporters were not from Michigan, as well:
- 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.
Lonnie Scott, Executive Director for Progress Michigan released the following statement regarding these revelations:
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.
“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?
Calley is running on a platform of “cleaning up Lansing” by “switching to a part time legislature” (which will benefit special interest and their lobbyists), “slashing legislators’ pay” and “cutting legislator benefits and pensions” (issues I have never heard of being a problem and that ensures only the wealthiest Michiganders would be able to hold office, and “passing a 10-point Plan to Clean Up Lansing”. To do so, he’s bringing in out-of-state students and paying them to be his “grassroots activists”. It’s a sham and completely counter to the “clean” government Calley says he’s all about. Hypocrisy isn’t particularly surprising from a Republican candidate but this level of hypocrisy goes beyond much of what we see.
And never forget this: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was second in command of one of the most corrupt, crony capitalist, scandal-ridden administrations in any of our lifetimes. If we’re going to “clean up Lansing”, removing Brian Calley and his cronies from any and all of our government should be one of our top priorities. Period.
[CC photo credit: Michigan Municipal League | Flickr]