By Natalia Mittelstadt
Michigan authorities suspected there was a possible voter registration fraud scheme occurring across multiple states during the 2020 election and were concerned enough to bring in the FBI, according to police memos reviewed by Just the News. But what happened since remains mostly a mystery.
According to the dozens of pages of police reports from the Muskegon Police Department and Michigan State Police, a firm called GBI Strategies was under scrutiny as an organization central to alleged voter registration fraud in the 2020 presidential election, which was first investigated by city and state authorities before the FBI took over.
Contacts between local law enforcement and the FBI continued into 2022 but there is no evidence of what happened after that in the memos obtained by Just the News through state Freedom of Information FOIA requests.
Police from Michigan interviewed GBI Strategies employees there and cited specific instances of registrations that appeared suspicious or fraudulent, the memos show. One State Police memo described the possible crime being investigated as “Election Fraud by Forgery.”
The Michigan attorney general’s office confirmed earlier this month that there was a state investigation into thousands of suspected fraudulent voter registrations, which was referred to the FBI, the Bridge Michigan reported.
Earlier this month, Danny Wimmer, press secretary for the State Attorney General, told Just the News that among 8,000 to 10,000 voter registration forms that were submitted to the Muskegon clerk before the 2020 general election, some were suspected to be fraudulent.
“An organization turned in some thousands of voter registrations throughout the fall of 2020, estimated on the high end to be cumulatively 8-10,000, and some within those batches were found to be suspicious or fraudulent,” Wimmer said. There were legitimate registrations within the batches. The city clerk receiving the batches alerted authorities when she began noticing irregularities.
“None of the fraudulent material was incorporated into the state’s qualified voter file, and this had no effect on any ballot requests or associated processes. This attempted fraud was detected because the system worked,” Wimmer added.
The Muskegon Police Department began investigating GBI Strategies after the Muskegon City Clerk’s Office reported suspected voter registration fraud, according to a police report first dated Oct. 16, 2020, which Just the News obtained from a FOIA request.
The city clerk’s office said that a woman who dropped off the fraudulent voter registrations on Oct. 8, 2020 said she worked for GBI Strategies, the police report reads.
The police interviewed the woman, called “Suspect 1” in the police report, and she explained that she “receives $1150.00 a week, hotels services and a rental vehicle for her work.”
She also said she was “tasked with finding unregistered voters and provide them with a form so they can get registered and obtain their ballot,” according to the police report. “Suspect 1 initially stated that her ‘canvassers’ earn money for each person that completes the form. She later told us that they are paid $9.25 per hour with extra money for working weekends.”
The suspect said in the report that she “worked [in the] Muskegon, Detroit, Ypsilanti, Southfield, Flint and Lansing area.”
While many voter registration forms that canvassers obtain are unusable because they are incomplete or illegible, according to the suspect the police report added that “She claimed that the forms she had with her were complete and checked for accuracy.” When the police inspected some of the forms, they found instead that some of the addresses didn’t exist or had incomplete information.
Muskegon police investigated the alleged fraud with Michigan State Police, who executed a search warrant for an office of GBI Strategies. A woman who was a canvasser and at the office during the search told police she made $15 an hour, contrary to what the suspect told police earlier.
The canvasser at the office added that canvassers who work two shifts a day, four hours each, for six days would receive a $60 bonus, while those who worked two shifts for seven days “would get an $85 bonus,” according to the report.
Just the News obtained the report, but the names of all GBI Strategies employees were redacted.
Muskegon police interviewed yet another woman who worked for GBI Strategies from Atlanta, Ga. She worked with another man from Atlanta and had a supervisor from New York. The woman also mentioned a Philadelphia office.
Wimmer told The Detroit News that GBI Strategies conducts voter registration drives and is headquartered in Tennessee.
There is a business listing for GBI Strategies in Cordova, Tenn, but Just the News has been unable to confirm that they are the same entity as the one under investigation.
Open Secrets, a non-partisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics provides data showing that GBI has been paid millions of dollars in the 2020 election cycle by Democratic and far-left groups. These groups include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($2,117,605); DNC Services Corp. ($1,031,856); and the Biden for President Campaign, who paid GBI $450,000.
GBI Strategies didn’t respond to multiple calls requesting comment.
According to Michigan State Police reports obtained by Just the News via a public records request, on Oct. 21, 2020, Detective First Lieutenant Michael Anderson was contacted by the Chief of Investigations for the state Attorney General’s Office and asked to assist “with a joint investigation of alleged voter fraud being conducted by the Muskegon Police Department and the AG. An investigative task force was formed, and an investigation was initiated.”
During the investigation, Michigan State Police conducted a search of a GBI Strategies office in Southfield, Mich., and found four rifles, four pistols, and a whiteboard with “several notes on it.
“One of the categories was ‘Hot Topics,’” the report continues. “Under ‘Hot Topics’ listed: weapons in the field, prepared for shifts, Covid questionnaire needs to be asked whether canvasser is new or not, mask enforcement, no eating in vans. Another heading was ‘Tiff GA Project’ and the words underneath: 44 Paycards, 30 Phones, 20 tablets. Another heading was ‘Charleston to Columbia’ with the words underneath: 10 tabs (Russ), 1 ten port, 2 pads (4). Another heading appeared to show Tablets to be shipped to PA, MIA & ALA.”
On the Jobsearcher.com website, Michigan State Police found GBI Strategies’ expired job postings for “Regional Field Manager, Supervisor and Driver, Voter Registration Specialist and Field Canvasser” in Flint Mich., as well as other “postings for Regional Field Managers in Washington DC and Chicago, IL,” according to one of the reports.
The report also reads, “D/SGT. PONZETTI … STATES FBI TASK FORCE SHE IS ASSIGNED TO HAS POSSIBLE INVESTIGATION REGARDING [redacted] IN OTHER STATES. REQUESTED MSP, AG AND MPD REPORTS FOR REVIEW.”
On a supplemental police report dated May 28, 2021, it reads, “Case will remain open as FBI has opened an investigation on the nation wide organization.”
The latest dates on the report are Aug. 19, 2022, where it reads, “STILL MAINTAINING EVIDENCE FOR FBI,” and Sept. 20, 2022, which reads, “Six month supp.,” and that the status of the investigation is “open.”