Young Americans for Liberty Used as “Rent-a-Mob” for Big Govt. Republican
By Shane Trejo, The Liberty Conservative [Original column here]
Just a few weeks ago, dozens of precocious young libertarians from throughout the country were bussed out to beautiful Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. Advertised as “a ground breaking opportunity for liberty,” starry eyed activists hit the pavement with enthusiasm and vigor to make liberty win. Little did they know they were being used as pawns by a big government politician with questionable values.
“You will be the deciding factor that brings Liberty to a state this summer and lays the ground work for exciting opportunities to come,” Young Americans for Liberty boasted on their “Liberty Summer” page.
It continued, “It’s time. All eyes will be on this. Want Change? Change Something.”
Field representatives were offered $1,500 pay with housing provided as well as stipends for gas and “a month of liberty immersion” to participate in the project. One crucial detail conspicuously absent in the description was who the activists would really be working for: Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.
YAL activists were given assurances that Calley’s involvement would be secondary, and what was important was a part-time legislature proposal that would reform Michigan’s excessively corrupt government. They were slated to collect petition signatures, but soon realized that it was not as much about getting the signatures as it was giving Calley some good press for an upcoming Governor run.
As soon as they arrived on Mackinac Island, activists got the picture rather quickly. It became abundantly clear that the so-called “Clean Michigan Government” campaign was about Calley first and everything else second. Before they knew it, young libertarians were marching behind Calley in a clearly orchestrated photo op without understanding much of anything about his actual record in public office. They were officially co-opted.
Additionally, door-to-door questionnaires were front-loaded with questions to identify registered voters as potential Calley supporters. The signatures were only a distant afterthought. Looking on the “Clean Michigan Government” website, viewers are immediately bombarded by an obtrusive Calley promotional video before any content can even be accessed. From there, Calley’s name and face are plastered all over the site with a small social media engagement area at the bottom where YAL’s efforts are showcased.
Making matters even worse, the campaign is already off to a rocky start. As soon as the campaign began, rumors began swirling that activists were instructed to show a Brian Calley campaign video. This is a possibly a criminal act, as not-for-profit political entities are barred from engaging in direct electioneering. However, it is impossible to know if a crime was committed because the organization is deliberately nebulous about its designation. No listings were readily available in the public record. The treasurer, record keeper, and legal counsel for the project were all contacted for additional information, but would not return phone calls.
Speculation ran rampant after the Board of State Canvassers postponed a hearing to officially validate the campaign last week. There are potential problems with the ballot language that may cause legal concerns. If the language is ultimately changed, weeks of work for liberty campaigners is down the drain immediately, and they will all have to start from scratch.
“The state constitution requires that all sections amended or abrogated by an amendment be listed on the petition,” Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams said. “While the petition lists the sections being altered, it does not list any other sections being abrogated. The staff routinely reviews petitions on that issue.”
Another potential roadblock standing in the way of the campaign is Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is expected to be Calley’s fiercest Republican primary opponent in next year’s gubernatorial race. Schuette is not expected to do his opponent any favors for his ballot initiative, and an attorney for the campaign believes that these questions of legality were floated from Schuette’s office. All of the work that the YAL activists have done thus far may very well go up in flames.
Throughout Michigan, the proposal is already looked at as a fiasco of sorts. Michigan progressives have ceased on the negative optics of the campaign and painted Young Americans for Liberty as out-of-state carpetbaggers working to astroturf a phony grassroots campaign that is little more than subterfuge to help an reviled career politician gain power. Examining Brian Calley’s record as Lieutenant Governor, it is hard to find fault with their assessment.
Calley has served as LG under Governor Rick Snyder, who achieved international infamy over his handling of the Flint water crisis. That hasn’t been Snyder’s only controversial policy though, as the Snyder administration has drawn the ire of Michigan conservatives for adopting big government policies on virtually everything. Snyder—with Calley by his side—was directly responsible for implementing Common Core, expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, outrageous spending increases, and huge new fuel tax hikes.
In fact, it was Calley’s tie-breaking vote that put the gas tax hike over the top in the Michigan Senate. A similar measure had already been rejected by the voters in overwhelming fashion months earlier. Calley’s vote was seen as a contemptuous rebuke of the democratic process to shove an arbitrary tax hike down the throats of Michiganders….
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