An attendee wears a “Three Percenters” patch (far-right, anti-government militia group) to a right-wing rally calling for a so-called “audit” of the 2020 election at the Michigan Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins
A few dozen GOP protesters demanding a so-called “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election gathered outside the Michigan Capitol Tuesday and stayed outside, despite the rally initially calling for thousands of people to flood the building and demand action.
The rally featured speakers, including former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, who has been a leading figure in circulating misinformation about the 2020 election, and state Senate candidate Mike Detmer. The real estate manager recently told a crowd at a Livingston County event that Michiganders “need to be prepared to lock and load” and to “show up armed” to polling places for future elections.
President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan. Nonetheless, claims of widespread voter fraud have been repeated by right-wing extremists for the last 14 months.
A right-wing group, “Audit Forward,” has a ballot measure that would require a so-called “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election.
Another ballot measure backed by Republicans, “Secure MI Vote,” which would enact sweeping voting restrictions, was circulating petitions at Tuesday’s rally, as was the “Unlock Michigan 2” campaign seeking to shift more power away from health experts and toward politicians.
State Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford) and his wife, Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, were also at the event, but neither took the podium.
Last month, CNN published audio of Meshawn explaining that Trump’s campaign directly coordinated the December 2020 operation to have a slate of fake Electoral College delegates submit a certificate declaring a phony Trump victory in Michigan.
Colbeck said at the podium that the crowd would not be going inside and he would not be speaking on the floor.
“Obviously, I want a full forensic audit to happen here in the state of Michigan. I’ve got a right to that audit under article two, section four of the Michigan Constitution. And today, we have not gotten an audit,” Colbeck said to the crowd.
In fact, as Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has emphasized numerous times, more than 250 official state and local audits have been conducted in Michigan in the wake of the 2020 election.
Those have confirmed the accuracy and integrity of Michigan’s election, and none have unearthed any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
In addition to audits and court rulings, an investigation in June by the GOP-controlled Senate Oversight Committee also upheld the results of Michigan’s election.
Detmer, a Trump-endorsed state Senate candidate running for state Sen. Lana Theis’ (R-Brighton) seat, called out Theis for accepting the results of the Oversight report and said she “stood against getting to the truth.”
At the rally Tuesday, he claimed, without evidence, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would classify “all of us here” as “domestic terrorists.”
“So be confident that you are in great company, because our founding fathers were classified as terrorists by the king of England and they stood for freedom,” Detmer said.
Detmer previously lost the August 2020 GOP primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly).
In response to Detmer’s appearance at the Capitol Tuesday, House Minority Leader Donna Lasinksi (D-Scio Twp.) said in a statement that his presence and words are “shameful” and “dangerous.”
“Mike Detmer comes to town today to spread these election lies mere days after he encouraged political violence,” Lasinksi said. “…It is shameful enough to use our Capitol building to peddle baseless and debunked election conspiracies but to bring his violent, anti-democracy rhetoric to the seat of government is dangerous.
“Any representative in government should be ashamed to be associated with him and his campaign, and those in government who have helped create an atmosphere where violence, harassment and intimidation have been normalized should be held accountable,” Lasinksi continued.
Also among the small crowd were GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Ryan Kelley and Bob Scott, and state Rep. Robert Bezotte (R-Howell).
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