In a Michigan campaign that has been reported to be YAL Jr. President Cliff Maloney’s personal “brain child”, have came reports of mass mismanagement within the libertarian organization directly from on site staff. The common complaint being that the campaign had been ran in an increasingly authoritarian fashion with accounts of mass firings for “Insubordination” and alleged cover ups of nefarious activities.
In short, many had no idea what they were in for when one hundred young activists agreed to come to Michigan for a liberty activism initiative. Shrouded in secrecy; at first none were allowed to even speak about it on social media or to press.
After these hundred activists arrived in Detroit, they were given a new, altered contract to sign. Due to having already having paid for transportation from various locations across the nation, several staff have espoused a sense of coercion and heavy handed pressure tactics on behalf of YAL to change contractual terms. They were under substantial duress to sign the surprise contract, so all did. After which, many felt as though they had been tricked into working long hours for little pay under a campaign some ideologically despised.
The original advertisement these activists had answered was a call for support to a liberty candidate. Since the notice was coming from the libertarian organization of YAL and personal assurances from YAL Mobilization Director, Justin Greiss, it was implied that they would be campaigning for a libertarian minded effort. Instead, the staff and activists found themselves being made to canvass for an Incumbent Lt. Governor Brian Calley. They were instructed to not mention they were from out of state or speak to media at all before or during the duration of their contract.
Three activists who attended have been willing to come out publicly and state on the record details of the inner workings of the campaign. Revealing shocking details of its practices…
One YAL activist who attended, Kyrssi Jones, expressed her distress in a first hand account of the events.
“Although the media, general public and even us canvassers were told he wasn’t announcing a gubernatorial run, we now knew what was up. We weren’t just collecting signatures for a PTL (Part Time Legislature), we were collecting data for (Lt. Gov.) Calley.
A lot of us were upset. Team leaders tried calming us down by saying things like “this is normal, we’re just testing questions and don’t worry”. It was blatantly obvious at that point what we were doing. Getting voter data for Calley and giving him good PR for his impending run for governor”
Soon many found themselves at the center of an alleged De Facto campaign for Lt Gov Brian Calley. Cat Dean who also worked on the campaign commented the following on the campaign:
“The initiative we worked for was called CleanMIGovt. Lt. Governor Brian Calley was “spearheading” this initiative, meaning his face was plastered all over it. Our T-shirts had “Calley’s Clean-Up Crew” on them. The literature we handed out had his face and name on it. The script we had to follow for the survey questions had Calley’s name in it. We were forced to download a video with Calley explaining the initiative, and we were told by senior staff to show it to people, but our RFDs (Regional Field Director) said not to if it wasn’t getting signatures. Which it wasn’t, so no one was showing the video. It wasn’t even four days in when all the field reps were raising their eyebrows wondering if we were still doing this grassroots initiative or working on a springboard initiative for when Calley inevitably announced his run for governor.”
Overall this article will cover and outline the alleged abuses and practices of the campaign.
Coverup Of Forgery
During the campaign, a major initiative was to gather signatures for a Part Time Legislature amendment to the State Constitution. A number of those involved have corroborated accounts in a claim that not only were a number of signatures forged within it, but that the forgery was intentionally covered up with the knowledge of YAL senior leadership. Cat Dean reported the following:
“Eventually, everyone else left the room because they finished their work, but I had to stay behind because my computer was acting up and I needed to send the numbers to my RFD (Regional Field Director). Because I wasn’t finished, he said he was going to make a call to Greiss and that I had to be dead silent and that what I heard could not leave the room.
So I listened to Justin tell Greiss that he had good reason to believe that there were forgeries, and Greiss said that he should “mention at tomorrow’s meeting that legal had some concerns and that they would give the person(s) a chance to come forward because it would be worse if they came to you.” After the phone call, I was told I would be immediately dismissed if word got out. I didn’t think anything badly about that, because I was under good faith that something would be done. Nothing was ever done”
In recent times it is possible that this petition has been thrown out altogether. Since as of a recent decision all signatures collected so far have been found to now be possibly void.
Another YAL activist named Brandon Wichers gave his account of the events as well.
“One of the field directors messed up the spreadsheets that held the signature data, so our director asked for some volunteers to help recount the last few days worth of signatures. I was one of the people who volunteered. As we were counting we noticed that one person had signatures on her petition that matched her handwriting exactly. We found several pages that were obvious forges and many more that were suspicious. We reported the forgeries to our director, who then reported it to Justin Griess. We were then threatened with being fired if we told anyone. The next morning in our team meeting our director admitted forgeries had been found and asked for the culprit to step forward. The culprit did not step forward and the campaign decided to cover up the forgeries and rewarded the culprit by naming her a top performer.”
Finding Forgeries, Broken Promises, And Mass Firings
As noted at the beginning there were in fact two contracts. The first being rift with legal language while not giving away anything about what to expect and was signed before arrival. Then after arrival they were presented with a contract to the Calley Campaign from which they were paid from. One hundred activists being paid $1,500 each, would amount to a minimum cost of $150,000 for the campaign in wages. While it is unknown how much senior YAL staff were paid, Justin Griess was listed as a “Project Director” on their official documents.
“Red flags were constantly being raised through the entire duration of the campaign. There was a lot of secretiveness from the directors and above. They failed to maintain their end of the contract by not providing adequate reimbursement for gas for those with cars, we were forced to work outside of contract dictated hours many times, and we were continually lied to and deceived. Ultimately we were deceived when signing on to the campaign.” – Brandon Wichers
After a while a number of activists began to express dissent to the contract violations and what seemed to be an effort to possibly raise support and name recognition of Lt Gov Calley. This was shown when rather than collect signatures in public areas, most were sent to walk working class neighborhoods door to door and instructed to show a video of Calley promoting the initiative. Cat Dean gives her account of the mismanagement below:
“ I was one of the many drivers they fired who continually brought attention to the fact that the campaign was falling short on their obligations to provide gas cards. Especially in the beginning when we were completing walkbooks with literally miles in between houses and I was forced to drive from house to house and neighborhood to neighborhood and driving miles to pick up my teammates who I had to abandon so they could complete their own walkbooks.
We were also forced to work unpaid overtime continually in order to meet our quotas for signatures. The night before the first mass firing, we were ALL forced to work unpaid overtime stuffing envelopes with petitions for people who requested to be mailed a petition. Materials were poorly distributed, there were too many people crowded in the rooms, and we were told that our dinner was going to be provided so no one bought dinner. The pizza was 3 hours late, it was cold, and there wasn’t enough for everyone…”
It appears that any who expressed dissent over contract violations were fired for “Insubordination”. At one time 25 were fired all at once which would amount to one in four of those attending.
Cat Dean commented the following on the mass firing in her private interview.
“Greiss told everyone on the conference call essentially that as capitalists, they should understand why we were fired, and that anyone who questioned them was next…Insubordination would not be tolerated.
Insubordination in this case is simply knowing your rights, especially in a contract that explicitly states what you’re promised.
A friend of mine was fired the next morning because he was rallying with the people who had been fired and trying to find them other jobs. He had no intention of going to the press, but leadership said that “they believed he was going to the press and that he was now a threat to the campaign.” – Cat Dean
Now it should be stated that being a capitalist doesn’t mean one can violate contracts and alledgely abuse authority rather than addressing valid concerns. The quotes above were only a fraction of what has been recorded to have allegedly taken place and the validity of the information shared rests on the shoulders of the sources.
So in light of that, a group of current and former YAL activists and affiliates have asked for a public apology and the promise of better future conditions for activists.
YAL was contacted for comment and did not respond after being given a 48 hour notice.