Lawmakers demand answers from top Michigan official over suspected pro-Democrat electioneering

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EXCLUSIVE: The entire Michigan House GOP delegation — plus a major committee chair — is demanding answers from a top state official regarding the potential use of federal taxpayer dollars for pro-Democratic Party electioneering.

Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, led a letter to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson calling for a probe into whether public funds for a federal agency-linked voter registration push may have been “weaponized” to “aid and abet President Biden’s reelection campaign.”

The demands followed Williams’ May subpoena to the Small Business Administration for records relating to actions in a memo forged between the SBA and Benson’s department. 

The memo utilized a 2021 Biden executive order on “promoting access to voting” as its keystone and provided various directives relating to registering voters, according to the letter.


Williams, head of the House Small Business Committee, and the co-signers seek to determine whether there is documentation reflecting allegations the voter registration work done under the memo strategically favors Democrats. 

The letter claims 39 of 52 scheduled small business outreach events in Michigan take place in “counties with the highest populations of demographics targeted by the Democratic National Committee.

“Additionally, 100 percent of the visits to Michigan from the SBA Administrator and Deputy Administrator have taken place in counties with the highest populations of DNC target demographics.”

Williams and co-signers, including Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., questioned the proclivity of efforts occurring in places valued by the Biden administration and campaign.

“The United States is built upon the principle of free and fair elections, but the Biden administration seems to not care about upholding our democracy,” McClain said Tuesday.


“Instead, they’re using the taxpayer-funded SBA to coordinate voter registration with Michigan’s Secretary of State.”

She called that alleged behavior an “abuse of power” that risks future election integrity.

“I will not rest until I get to the bottom of [this],” McClain said.

Williams added that evidence shows the SBA “has the ability to indirectly campaign” for Biden in a must-win state.

“This is a ridiculous — and likely illegal — use of taxpayer resources. I thank my Michigan colleagues for joining me in this effort, and we will not stop until the SBA is completely and totally forthcoming,” Williams said.

The letter cited a covertly recorded April video released by self-described “guerrilla journalist” James O’Keefe, which shows an SBA official claiming Small Business Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman’s travel is at times purposefully targeted to “indirectly campaign” for Biden.

In the video, a Guzman visit to vulnerable Sen. Jon Tester’s, D-Mont., home state is cited. The SBA official in the video notes Tester’s seat is a must-win for a continuing Democratic majority in the upper chamber. 

Citing that context, the letter demanded Benson turn over all documents and communications between her department, SBA officials and external contractors relating to Michigan voter registration.


It also demanded memo-related expense documentation, sources of the expense payments and the name of the state official designated as Benson’s liaison with the SBA.

Benson was also asked to turn over lists of relevant events in Republican House districts with notations about whether that GOP member as well as the state’s two Democratic senators, Gary Peters and Deborah Stabenow, were invited.

“If either of the two senators were invited but a Republican member of Congress was not, please detail the reasoning behind the lack of invitation,” Williams wrote.

In response to past criticisms of the Michigan Department of State’s (MDOS) work under the memo, spokeswoman Angela Benander said the agency enjoys being part of a “first-in-the-nation effort” with the small business community to “play an active role in our democracy.”

“Allegations that this program is being used to drive large amounts of voter activity in a partisan manner are patently false,” Benander said, adding, unsolicited, that criticisms of the voter registration web portal are unfounded due to its minimal use.

Critics, however, have suggested the attention given by a Biden administration agency to a key swing state in this way continues to draw suspicion.

Previously, Guzman said in a statement heralding the memo that it is meant to promote civic engagement and fulfill a Biden administration promise to protect and strengthen democracy.

“Small businesses are busy working on and in their businesses, and by meeting them where they are — on our website and at our small business outreach events — we can help facilitate voter registration and civic engagement so their voices are heard,” Guzman said.

An SBA representative declined to respond to a question about the veracity of O’Keefe’s video.


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