[DETROIT NEWS article]
Lansing — Authorities in Michigan referred a 2020 investigation into thousands of voter registrations submitted by a person in Muskegon to the FBI, Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office confirmed this week.
Nessel’s press secretary, Danny Wimmer, said the total number of suspected fraudulent forms delivered to the Muskegon clerk by the individual was 8,000 to 10,000 ahead of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election.
However, Wimmer said, the “attempted fraud” was caught before Election Day because Michigan’s election system worked and the applicants were not added to the state’s voter rolls.
“The city clerk in Muskegon detected the fraudulent material provided and alerted the proper authorities,” Wimmer said in a statement. “A thorough investigation was conducted by multiple agencies within the state and no successful fraud was perpetrated upon the state’s election process or qualified voter file.”
The unresolved probe, which first became public in October 2020, has garnered new attention among conservative-leaning websites in recent days after the Gateway Pundit highlighted police reports about investigators’ efforts. The conservative website, which has advanced false and unproven theories in the past about voter fraud influencing Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, wrote in its headline for the story, “Now we have proof.”
However, officials in Michigan contended in recent days, the incident was proof that election administrators are capable of catching and preventing wrongdoing when it is attempted.
On Friday, FBI Special Agent Mara Schneider declined to comment on the election investigation. Wimmer didn’t immediately respond to a question about when the referral was made to federal authorities.
But Wimmer said state officials decided to refer the matter to the FBI because of its national jurisdiction. The person who submitted the registrations to Muskegon Clerk Ann Meisch’s office was a representative of GBI Strategies, which conducts voter registration drives and is headquartered in the state of Tennessee, Wimmer said.
“Fraud was determined to have occurred at the lowest levels of the company,” Wimmer said in a statement. “The leading internal indication was that fraud was being perpetrated against GBI Strategies by its employees to fabricate work product without conducting the work expected of them and not in explicit pursuit of defrauding the election infrastructure of the state.”
GBI Strategies received about $5 million from Democratic groups and campaigns for canvassing, voter outreach and other activities during the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to federal disclosures. Biden’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee were among those that reported expenditures to GBI Strategies over the two-year period.
Attempts by The Detroit News to reach the company were unsuccessful in recent days.
In October 2020, the Michigan State Police first publicly revealed it was examining “irregularities in voter registration forms” in Muskegon.
The investigation of potential election fraud forgery included a search warrant being executed at a Southfield location of GBI Strategies in October 2020, Wimmer said.
Gateway Pundit and other conservative websites have highlighted that “bags of pre-paid gift cards, guns with silencers (and) burner phones” were found during the search.
But substantiating evidence of a crime wasn’t found during the search, Wimmer said.
“Detected in this search were pay cards, pre-pay style cell phones and voter registration forms, all determined to be normal operational devices in GBI Strategies’ line of work,” Wimmer said. “Also found during the search were several firearms, which prompted a response from federal agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
“All detected firearms were determined by federal authorities to be legally owned and incidentally stored in the location by an employee irrelevant to the business purposes of GBI Strategies. None of the materials seized resulted in furthering evidence of voter fraud.”
Meisch didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
The City of Muskegon has about 38,000 residents, so 8,000 new voter registrations would equal about 21% of the population. Muskegon had about 28,000 registered voters during the 2020 presidential election, according to state records.