Strong words -- lying, trespassing, illegally -- grab attention at the top of a Free Press report on a hidden-camera video from a group opposing an Unlock Michigan campaign:
A company collecting signatures to strip Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of her emergency powers coached paid petition circulators on giving voters false information, illegally collecting signatures without witnessing them, trespassing on private property, and even lying under oath, a secretly recorded videotape shows.
The video showing Erik Tisinger, a trainer for the California signature company In the Field, Inc., was secretly recorded Sept. 4 by a representative of Keep Michigan Safe.
The documented coaching "could potentially pose problems for Unlock Michigan's attempts to certify the close to 500,000 signatures the group hopes to collect," writes Paul Egan. "It is the second example of irregularities in the Unlock Michigan signature collection process the Free Press has highlighted."
The statewide group wants to repeal the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945, which Whitmer cites in executive orders aimed at minimizing Covid risks. Unlock Michigan's strategy is to bypass voters by having the GOP-dominated Legislature repeal the law by approving the citizen-endorsed initiative, an action Whitmer couldn't veto.
But the trainer is shown suggesting that workers, who get $3.50 per signature, falsely say that signing the petition endorses putting the repeal of the emergency law on state ballots.
Other rule-breaking is recommended on the stealth video, which the Freep quotes from without showing.
Fred Wszolek, a spokesman for Unlock Michigan, said In the Field, which hired Tisinger, will not get paid for the signatures it collects, based on the contents of the video.