An activist who attended the YAL organized Michigan based “Clean Mi Govt” initiative in coordination with Lt. Gov Brian Calley resigned after she allegedly witnessed many events that raised red flags for her. Below is her first hand account of what occurred:
When I saw a post on my schools YAL chapter’s facebook page to help work on a campaign in Michigan, I was ecstatic. I immediately looked into the application and found there wasn’t much detail but I thought, why not apply? I was immediately contacted by Justin Greiss for a phone interview. On the call, Greiss seemed enthused and trustworthy and I was excited to interview. I was informed that the campaign was to canvass for a part time legislature and I was even more excited because that is a fantastic cause to get behind. I was then told we’d be working with “a popular and prominent liberty elected official” and my mind raced. I audibly gasped and asked “is it Justin Amash!?” I was then told “ well, I can’t say but you won’t be disappointed. I know that wasn’t a yes, but his tone made me feel confident that I’d be working with a prominent leader in the liberty movement. With five days to get there, I made arrangements for my house and pets, packed up and head to Michigan.
When I got there, I was greeted by YAL president Cliff Maloney and Justin Greiss. They seemed energized and ready to spread liberty in the state of Michigan. That made me excited! About 100 of us liberty activists showed up periodically through the day and each of us were passionate about the PTL initiative we’d be working on.
Our day started the next day with some paperwork. One of the many papers we received was a contract. It stated our hours worked (11 am-8 pm), pay and gas cards for the people driving everyone around. We went over how to pitch at doors and how to work an app called I360, a voter data collection app. We were given a brief rundown on how the next day was going to work. We were to get up, be ready and head to a ferry taking us to Mackinac Island. We were told we’d be helping a “liberty elected official” make the announcement. When pushed for a name, not one leader would give us that information. It seemed sketchy but I trusted YAL leadership.
Once at the island we were asked to pass out fliers that invited people to watch a big announcement. Once that was done, we were given more direction. Pack a restaurant in our plain clothes and listen to the liberty legislator make the PTL announcement, then go back to Greiss and Maloney to put on campaign shirts and rally around the legislator. At this point, we still didn’t know who that was. We get into the restaurant and that’s when my heart sank. Lt. Governor Brian Calley was introduced and spoke about his new initiative “Clean Mi Govt”. Being from Michigan, I knew who this man was. He was NOT a liberty conservative AT ALL! In fact, he was instrumental in passing a gas tax hike to repair the roads and those roads were never touched. He was also Gov. Snyder’s right hand man with the Flint water crisis. Calley is arguably the second most hated politician in the state of Michigan. After his speech we went to get our campaign shirts. They were bright blue with “Calley’s clean up crew” plastered on the front. We were instructed to stand around him while leaders led chants like “clean it up!” and “USA” for the press. Then we were instructed to march through the streets with Calley chanting while the press took pictures. Personally, I did my best to stay out of those pictures because I do not support that establishment republican.
After the event, we headed back to the hotel. Many people looked up Calley and were disappointed. We were lead to believe we’d be working with an actual liberty leader and instead got a conservative crony. Still, we were amped up to help Michigan cut their legislature.
Then, everything got super sketchy. We were given ‘walk books’ on Ipads that targeted republicans in a very rural area. Some houses were as far as ¾ of a mile apart but we still did it with a smile. The walk books contained surveys. The questions constantly changed but the first set was fairly simple, “do you vote republican or democrat” and “what issues are important to you”. The few houses I was able to get to were eager to sign the petition and answer the questions. We weren’t being efficient though. We were in a rural area and it was discouraging and exhausting. Finally after four days or so, we moved to a densely populated area. Once moved there, the survey questions had a new addition, “If the republican primary for governor were held today, who would you vote for?” Although the media, general public and even us canvassers were told he wasn’t announcing a gubernatorial run, we now knew what was up. We weren’t just collecting signatures for a PTL, we were collecting data for Calley.
A lot of us were upset. Team leaders tried calming us down by saying things like “this is normal, we’re just testing questions and don’t worry”. It was blatantly obvious at that point what we were doing. Getting voter data for Calley and giving him good PR for his impending run for governor. That was heart breaking, but I really believed in the initiative so I pushed it away.
The campaign started falling through on its promises in the contract. We were starting meetings early, working later, and drivers weren’t receiving gas cards in a timely manner forcing them to pay out of pocket. When people complained, we were told lies like “it will be here tomorrow” and “we put our foot down with the campaign and you will not be working out of contracted hours”. Of course, that didn’t happen. It was said the gas cards would be Visa gift cards but instead, days later, drivers received a speedway gift card forcing them to find speedways all over MI.
Once we got to the Detroit area, it got worse. Leaders started coming down on us for signature numbers although we had been in rural areas and could hardly make it to 50 houses a day. We all pleaded to do what most other campaigns do and go to public spaces to get as many as we can. We were told no, because campaign needed the data. When we were knocking on doors between 11 am- 3 pm, no one was home. People have jobs. I once went to 60 houses, in a row, and didn’t get one answer. This was brought up to team leaders by multiple people, multiple times. But they didn’t care. They told us to just keep doing it and get that data. During this time, it was 95 degrees plus and we were drenched in sweat and discouraged that before 3 pm, no one would answer.
That’s when we were instructed to show a minute long video of Lt. Gov. Calley pushing this initiative. It was cringy at best and made us feel they were more concerned about campaigning for Calley and getting his data. We were placed in locations in inner city Detroit. If you know the area, you know 6 mile and joy road. It is known to be dangerous but leaders didn’t know because they didn’t care enough to check it out. We were still keeping on though, all of us were passionate about getting this PTL on the ballot.
What came next was the most shocking. People were asked to help count already collected signatures. About seven of us volunteered and got to work. Three people got done quicker and left the room while the rest of us finished. The four of us remaining noticed something off. One person’s signatures looked extremely weird. All addresses were in the same hand writing, signatures looked manufactured and the amount this person had was outrageous. We immediately showed our boss the signatures and he had us pull all of this person’s sheets. When we did so, we found upwards of 50 blatant forged signatures. I even cross referenced the addresses in google maps and found may of them to not exist. Our boss called Greiss immediately. He wanted us to be silent so Greiss didn’t know we were there. He told him with great certainty “We found forged signatures”. When he was asked if he was sure, he said “yes”. He then got off the phone with a panicked look and told the four of us “if you tell anyone about this, you will all be fired immediately”. So we didn’t say anything. The next morning at our daily morning meeting, the issue was brought up. Our boss said “ We found definite forged signatures, this is illegal, if you have done this, come forward immediately or you will be prosecuted”. The person, of course, did not come forward. Their signature numbers did drop dramatically though.
The four of us thought the campaign would do the right thing. Surely that person would be fired, they’d at least not be sent out to collect signatures. We were wrong. It was completely covered up. We were disgusted but didn’t yet know what we could do about it.
Around that time, a news article came out questioning the validity of the petition we were circulating. A lot of us had concerns and were told to not worry about it. The petition was approved a few days later and our worries about that issue were put to rest. We all got personal texts from Greiss asking us how we’re liking it, if we want to do month two and that we were doing great. It all seemed a little more hopeful minus the forged signatures that we were torn about.
Only a few days later, we were sent a mass text saying there was to be a mandatory meeting at 8:30 pm. This was normal so nobody panicked. At about 9 pm, we were told we’d be split into groups and when we were individually texted, to come to a hotel room. 9:30 rolls around and the first group went in. No one knew what was going on. About 20 minutes later, the news dropped. 25 people were abruptly fired and told they had to leave within 12 hours. We were in shock! They were told it was low numbers but we were all emailed numbers weekly and many of the people let go had average to high numbers. They were obedient and had good attitudes. We did not know what to think. Noticeably absent was the person forging signatures. In fact, they were in the next meeting which was the meeting of high performers! WHAT?! You fire 25 people but not the person breaking the law?
After all the meetings, the people fired were obviously upset and panicking about what to do and how to get home across the country. A top performer was trying to calm people down and because he was in their vicinity, he was then fired too. It was all so insane. I was roommates with a young, 19 year old man. This was his first time in politics. He came late in the program and drove 27 hours from New Mexico to help spread liberty. He had a great attitude and for being new, had fantastic numbers. He was so shocked and hurt, he started crying. He quit his job to start his career in politics. He had just arrived barely a week before. I tried to comfort him and tell him how sorry I was for this experience and he said something I’ll never forget “I’m done with politics and activism”. Through his tears, you could see the passion he had just fly away because of how he had been treated and seen others treated. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever experienced and I cried with him. I’ve been in political activism for a decade, I’ve experienced many losses but nothing hurt quite like seeing a very young man drop everything for his passion and be treated so poorly he wanted to give up on activism altogether. I wanted to quit right then but wanted to hear an explanation.
That explanation came the next morning when Greiss had all the remaining people get on a conference call. Instead of being encouraging he said some things that make me quiver in anger. He trashed the names and reputations of everyone fired. He reiterated that they were fired for under performing which we already knew wasn’t true. He said “you should all understand since you’re all free market capitalists”.
I may believe in free market capitalism but I also believe in ethics. That’s when he informed us that we “are his soldiers and he’s the officer, insubordination would not be tolerated”. He continued with “I will not have inmates running the asylum”. To know that that’s how we were thought of made me so angry I had to hang up the phone and walk away from the group. That’s when I found out that if people hadn’t left yet, only 12 hours after being let go to make arrangements, they were trespassing and the police would be called. That’s when I was done.
I didn’t say anything yet, I was deep in thought as I went to work the day without 25 of the best liberty activists I have ever met. By about 2 pm, I made up my mind. I couldn’t stick around. Before telling my boss, I bought a plane ticket and a different hotel to stay in until I could leave. About that time, I received a text from our boss wanting to do performance reviews. Apparently, I “was doing great and had a great attitude” and I couldn’t hold it in. I told him I had to leave. I couldn’t ethically stay when others who deserved to be here were sent home so abruptly without concern for their wellbeing. I couldn’t stay when someone who was proven to forge signatures was considered a “top performer”. He actually agreed with all of my reasoning. I finished out the day hoping to still collect as many signatures for the initiative before I left. Once I told a few close campaign friends I had quit, they informed me they did too. For the same reasons. Even the very top performer had to quit. There was about 15 of us in total that couldn’t sacrifice our principles and stay.
I stayed in a different hotel that night. It was the team’s day off the next day so I wanted to go and say goodbye. Most people didn’t even know I had quit because I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. The top performer who quit was also there. We hugged and I told him I was proud of him for standing for what’s right. That’s when he told me that one of the team leaders offered him $500 cash and a reimbursement of his plane ticket to stay. He said absolutely not. I was astonished. Paying people to stay while simultaneously firing 25 people because they weren’t worth the money being spent. That just reinforced my decision. We were saying goodbye to everyone. We were both well liked on the campaign and we owed it to our new friends to wish them well. That’s when I was told to leave because I was trespassing. My boss that hugged me the day before, told me he respected me, said he understood why I was quitting threatened me with the police.
I left and didn’t look back. I contacted my lawyer about the contract and the illegal activity I personally witnessed and was advised to immediately report the forgeries to the SOS and police or I could be implicated in the cover up. So that’s what I did. I did the right thing. Within 24 hours, the entire campaign was shut down. Multiple reasons were given but were all proven to be untrue. I was personally threatened that if I said anything, my career in politics would be over. That didn’t scare me. If someone doesn’t want to hire me because I have principles and ethics, then I wouldn’t want to work for them. Since this went down, My character has been personally attacked online but met with people defending me.
I will NEVER do another YAL event again. I will NEVER work with Greiss and Maloney again. But, you know what? I’ll never stop fighting for liberty. I’ll never stop trying to end corruption in politics. You don’t scare me YAL. You make me want to fight harder.