A group that visited the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Saturday night is one of many self-proclaimed “grassroots” groups working to reverse President Donald Trump’s electoral loss. But this one lists a local Republican Party office as its own seat.
Benson was about to watch How the Grinch stole Christmas with her young child when a crowd of around 20 marched to her home with megaphones and Trump flags. The group was there to falsely accuse Benson of rigging the election against Trump. Benson, who is the Chief Electoral Officer of Michigan, claimed in a statement that some of the people who visited him that night were armed.
No arrests were made during Saturday’s protest, but it was not a spontaneous wave of grievances from the right. Genevieve Peters, a participant who webcast the event on Facebook, said the group was affiliated with “Stop The Steal MI”. This group claims to share its “HQ” with the Macomb County Republican Party, which shared Peters’ video of the protest outside Benson’s home on its official Facebook page.
The protest was the latest escalation targeting election officials in states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden. Officials in Georgia report receiving threats of violence, despite the state’s Republican leadership re-examining election results and repeatedly certifying Biden’s victory. Even before the presidential election, several prominent Michigan Democrats faced threats, including an alleged kidnapping plot directed against state governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The ongoing Michigan saga suggests that even when official Republicans show signs, however late, of accepting Biden’s victory, the activists they unleashed may not be ready to hang up.
“Through patently bogus press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal allegations and so-called ‘affidavits’ that do not allege any clear or convincing evidence of wrongdoing, those who are not satisfied with the results of this election perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous and flagrant campaign. to erode public confidence in the results of one of the safest, most accessible and transparent elections in the history of our state ”, Benson wrote in his statement about the incident.
Peters, who broadcast the protest live, is no stranger to the headlines. In October, she interrupted a speech by Senator Bernie Sanders at a Biden campaign event, then sat on the floor to attempt to record. In May, one of her feeds went viral when she was kicked out of a Trader Joe’s for refusing to wear a mask. The following week, she announced that she was showing symptoms of COVID-19, but that she had apparently recovered. Last week, she took a photo with Rudy Giuliani, who now has COVID-19 himself.
Peters also posted a group photo on Saturday with other protesters, some of whom were holding “Stop the Steal” printed signs. Peters said the protesters were part of the “Stop The Steal MI” group, an organization that launched its website on November 10, days after Trump went missing.
Neither Macomb County GOP, Peters, nor his group (which lists Peters’ phone number as their own) returned no requests for comment on Monday. On its website, Stop The Steal MI is soliciting donations and asking visitors to contact the Michigan GOP with evidence of voter fraud.
State-level Republicans have claimed they were unaware of Stop The Steal MI until Monday. “The part you sent, we’ve been posting this information for weeks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they shared it,” Tony Zammit, a Michigan GOP spokesperson, told the Daily Beast, encouraging people to share it. to contact them.
He did not approve of the protest outside Benson’s house. “We understand that people are upset, but we encourage people to express their frustrations peacefully,” he said.
Other Republicans in the state, such as Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, have also condemned the incident. Chatfield visited the White House last month over fears that state legislative leaders are seeking to overthrow the will of voters and assign Michigan voters to Trump. Such a plan never came to fruition.
But Stop The Steal MI claims closer ties to the Macomb County GOP. Stop The Steal lists the Clinton Township offices in Macomb GOP, Michigan as its own “HQ.” A Facebook button on the Stop The Steal website links to the Macomb County GOP’s Facebook page instead of the group’s own page.
The Macomb County GOP did not return multiple requests for comment on whether Stop The Steal was affiliated with the local party or simply inexplicably claimed to share its address and Facebook page. The Macomb County GOP, however, shared Peters’ video of the protest outside Benson’s home, apparently with approval.
Stop The Steal MI has already borrowed goods from less than happy organizations. In November, the group announced a “Support Our President” rally that was said to go against a TGI Friday in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
“Please DO NOT park in the parking lot of the TGI Friday restaurant,” read the group’s event poster. “TGI Friday’s told us our cars would be towed.”
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