Caught on tape: Unlock Michigan trainer instructs petition gatherers on illegal tactics

LANSING — Paid petition gatherers for Unlock Michigan were schooled on how to trespass on private property, illegally collect voter signatures they did not witness as required by law and lie under oath if deposed, according to a recording of a recent training session obtained by the Detroit Free Press

“Unlock Michigan has stooped to new lows – including encouraging people to break the law and schooling them in ways to commit illegal acts – to bring their dangerous petition before the Republican-controlled Legislature,” said Lavora Barnes, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “We need a full review of each and every signature and the circulators should be questioned under oath before the criminal enterprise known as Unlock Michigan brings its crime spree anywhere near the Michigan Legislature.”

In a blockbuster investigative piece published by the Free Press, a trainer hired by Unlock Michigan to collect signatures for its partisan power grab told petition gatherers they could leave petitions with store clerks and falsely claim to have witnessed those signatures being collected if asked to appear in court. The Unlock Michigan petition would strip Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of the emergency powers she’s used to save lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The training sessions are only the latest example of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Unlock Michigan resorting to deceitful, unscrupulous tactics to get signatures. Shirkey and his fellow Republicans previously hired convicted criminal Mark Jacoby to help lead the effort to undermine the governor’s ability to save lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

There continues to be broad public support for Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with a recent WDIV poll showing 61% those surveyed support the governor’s management of the ongoing pandemic.

“Unlock Michigan has established a disturbing pattern of lying and deceit, even hiring known criminals to push a reckless proposal that puts the health of Michiganders at risk,” Barnes said. “This petition drive reeks of criminality and we call for a complete review of each and every signature and each and every collector of signatures in this reckless and irresponsible effort.”

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