Michigan County hires ‘Stop the Steal’ leader to recruit poll workers

Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini, a Republican, told POLITICO that Peters was hired in May to help recruit election workers. She applied for a position that was newly created in response to concerns from city clerks about staffing shortages ahead of November’s midterm elections that include races for governor, secretary of state and attorney general, did he declare.

Forlini said he knew Peters attended the January 6 protests. What she was able to do “in her personal life” predates her work in his office, he said, noting that he did not interview her himself. On his LinkedIn page, Peters says he served six years as a contract election supervisor in Los Angeles County, including training election inspectors and overseeing ballot preparations and training election staff.

“Genevieve is involved in reviewing training procedures since most of her experience is teaching and training, so just putting together more easily understandable material,” he said. “The clerks are grateful that we are coming to a better curriculum. We help them recruit and train poll workers,” Forlini said, believing he is achieving his goal of an equal mix of Democratic and Republican poll workers throughout the county.

Forlini also said the workers were trained “out of state equipment” by county chief electoral officer Mike Grix.

Contacted by POLITICO, Jake Rollow, spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said the office is aware of Peters’ nomination and is monitoring the situation, including “potential challenges that may arise.”

Peters did not respond to multiple messages left on his work email, as of Friday, and his phone number, which includes a record identifying his name and title. Much of Peters’ selfie-style video footage was removed from his Facebook page, but not before it was archived by people involved in a “Sedition Hunters” consortium keeping records on an evidence webpage from the 6 January.

In an Oct. 4 email to city clerks, Peters provided an update on Macomb County’s efforts to recruit election workers. “We are pleased to report that our outreach efforts for election workers have been quite successful. We are acquiring a nice list of many community members who have volunteered to be hired as election workers for November,” Peters said in the email. His title is listed as “Talent Development Specialist”.

David Levine, a former election official who wrote a recent article on how to vet poll workers, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the appointment. “I’m a big believer in repentance and people taking actions they later regret, but in the absence of compelling circumstances or excuses for past behavior, that’s extremely problematic,” said Levine, who is an electoral integrity member of the Alliance for Securing Democracy. to the German Marshall Fund.

According to a Jan. 6 gallery of evidence by Citizen Journalists, Peters arrived with friends with a portable stage and speakers on the west side of the Capitol, eventually telling the crowd “we broke through the Capitol” and that “there is no better cause”. for being arrested than defending then-President Donald Trump. Speaking of his platform, Peters compared the moment to “our 1776,” or the American Revolution against British rule. “We have pierced the Capitol”, Peters said. “Come on,” she said.

A day later, local news station WXYZ aired part of the same footage, describing it as ‘inflaming’ the crowd, although it said it had not ‘forgiven’ a rioter who occupied the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. WXYZ reported that Peters has previously led “Stop the Steal” rallies in Detroit and Lansing.

There had also been photos of Peters on social media in the lobby of the Michigan Capitol with a group of men wearing shirts associated with the extremist Boogaloo movement, according to Raw Story, and with a number of campaign conspiracy supporters. most prominent of Trump, including his confidant Roger Stone and Marjorie Taylor Greenethe United States House member from Georgia, known for her QAnon conspiracy theories.

In 2018, Peters helped lead a group called the Family America Project, for which Taylor Greene served as a spokesperson before being elected to Congress.

The fact that Peters plays a central role in Macomb’s election office illustrates how well some Trump loyalists and election deniers have worked their way into official party and government roles. Macomb is the third most populous county in Michigan. Before voting for Trump by wide margins in 2016 and 2020, Macomb had for decades served as a national barometer of the national political landscape. In 2008, Barack Obama won Macomb by the largest margin of any Democrat since 1964.

With newly redesigned state electoral precincts, Macomb is offering a few now competitive state Senate races that will help determine control of the chamber, said Laura Misumi, grassroots coordinator for Election Defense Coalition, a partnership of justice groups. Michigan social and labor activists organizing to protect the administration of fair elections in the state.

Michigan’s battle for the legislature is considered one of the most important in the nation by nonpartisan election experts concerned about how state legislatures might try to assert more control in the upcoming presidential election. In 2020, Trump hosted members of the Michigan Legislative Assembly in the Oval Office as he sought to prevent certification of state electoral votes for Joe Biden.

“We’ve seen a concerted recruiting effort to ensure sympathetic people are in power,” Misumi said. “It’s straight out of a playbook.”

Rollow, the secretary of state’s spokesman, said the state “will not tolerate any violation” of state election laws and “will seek full accountability from anyone who abuses his authority or interferes with the integrity of our elections.

“Election officials and their staff have the right to hold their own personal political opinions, but the law requires that they administer elections in a nonpartisan manner so that all voters can be confident that every valid vote is counted fairly,” Rollow said.

Peters has a long history of political activity on behalf of Trump and other causes.

Weeks before Peters went live outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, Peters live-streamed a protest on Facebook that included armed protesters outside Secretary of State Benson’s home chanting “Stop the Steal.” The protest made national headlines as Benson crouched inside with his children who had hung up Christmas lights as some protesters could be heard shouting “you are murderers” near their bedrooms.

“We’re letting him know that we’re not taking this bullshit election, we’re not stepping down, we’re not giving up. You’re not going to take this election from a man who won it 100% by a freaking landslide. Let me tell you: it’s not over,” Peters said, according to multiple outlets, although Peters has since deleted most of his social media.

In a sign of how deeply the false belief that the election was stolen has penetrated the Republican Party mainstream, the Macomb County GOP shared live video of Peters on its Facebook page, according to the Daily Beast.

In his POLITICO interview, Forlini himself would not acknowledge that Michigan’s 2020 election had been determined enough statewide.

Asked if he was concerned about Peters’ advocacy around promoting false claims that the last election was fraudulent, Forlini said “none of that was apparent in anything we Have done. She never, ever mentioned anything like that or talked that way whatsoever.

He added: “I certainly wouldn’t put up with that for anything related to that because we’re trying to stay pretty neutral.” Even so, he said, he doesn’t look into people’s personal lives and noted that no one has alleged that she did anything illegal.

While Forlini is confident Macomb’s 2020 vote result was accurate, he said it was only because he audited his computer servers. More than 250 audits of the election have confirmed its “integrity and accuracy,” according to the secretary of state’s office. A month-long investigation by a GOP-led oversight committee concluded there was no widespread or systemic fraud and urged that state’s attorney general to investigate those who make such allegations without foundation.

Still, Forlini said, “It’s not for me to believe or disbelieve. My job is to make sure the elections I run are good,” he said.

Peters first came to national attention in May 2020 for recording herself refusing to wear a face mask at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic at a California Trader Joe’s.

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