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Election Integrity News Blog


Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Updated: Feb 7

By David Howell | February 5, 2024

The following is the account of a voter fraud investigation that was initiated on October 21, 2020, just 13 days before the November 3 general election.

The investigation was launched by a Joint Investigative Task Force (JITF) that included detectives from the Michigan State Police (MSP), the Muskegon Police Department (MPD), the Criminal Investigation Division at the Attorney General’s Office (AGCID), and the Secretary of State’s Office (SOS).

The information that follows was obtained from:

  • MSP Incident Report 060-0000368-20 (available for download here)

  • Search Warrants executed by the JITF

  • Seized evidence lists

  • Video recordings of the initial suspect’s interview by the AGCID

  • Open source information

  • 14-month investigation by the elections committee of the Muskegon County Republican Party. (Anomalies Found in the Muskegon County 2020 Election!)

To date, there have been no arrests, trials, or convictions related to this JITF investigation which was kept very limited in size and scope in Michigan for reasons that are unknown and not transparent. The case remains OPEN and has become, since May 2021, part of a larger ongoing multi-state investigation by a FBI Task Force.


OCTOBER 8, 2020. With the general election only 26 days away, Brianna Hawkins, an employee of GBI Strategies, walked into the City Clerk’s Office in Muskegon, Michigan (population 38,309) and handed City Clerk Ann Meisch and Deputy Clerk Kimberly Young several large boxes stuffed with completed Voter Registration Applications (VRAs) from residents of Muskegon that needed to be verified and entered into the State of Michigan’s Qualified Voter File (QVF). Over the previous several weeks, Ms. Hawkins had mailed several similar packets full of VRAs to the Muskegon Clerk’s Office on behalf of GBI Strategies (GBIS), which is based in Southfield. Similar packets filled with completed VRAs were also being received through the mail from an organization called Empower Michigan (EM) located in Auburn Hills.


OCTOBER 9 - OCTOBER 16, 2020.  As Ms. Meisch and Ms. Young worked through the voluminous number of applications dropped off at their office, they estimated that Ms. Hawkins had mailed or delivered 8,000-10,000 VRAs. Ms. Meisch and Ms. Young became alarmed that potentially, a voter fraud scheme was taking place. Historically, the entire Muskegon County (population of 175,824) would receive about 1,250 new voter registrations in a typical year so for the City of Muskegon  (which comprises only 22% of the county’s total population), the average number of VRAs that they ought to expect in a given year was in the neighborhood of 275 VRAs. They contrasted the number 275 with the 8,000-10,000 they had received the previous 2 months.

They noticed that a substantial number of the VRAs had names, dates of birth, social security numbers, drivers license numbers, or addresses that were invalid. They noticed similar handwriting on many of the applications; they noticed that other applications had signatures that did not match the official signature that was on file with Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Around October 16 they contacted the MPD, gave them what they considered to be fraudulent VRAs as evidence, and requested that an investigation be initiated to determine if voter fraud had been committed. 


(Concurrently, Ms. Mesich was aware, through a private Facebook group for Michigan clerks, that other municipal and township clerks had received similar large packs and cardboard boxes which were full with VRAs sent through the mail from GBIS and EM. To further illustrate, some of the clerks posted images of the large mailer packets showing an “Empower Michigan” return address. It appears as if the Muskegon clerk was the only one to contact law enforcement. Other clerks contacted Michigan’s Secretary of State, SOS, and were instructed to forward these VRAs to the SOS in Lansing where, the clerks were told, the applications could be “fixed or cured” and entered into the QVF.)


OCTOBER 20 and 21, 2020.  As a joint investigation by the Muskegon Police Department (MPD) and the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigation Division (AGCID) was getting underway, Ms. Hawkins once again entered the Muskegon clerk’s office with more large

packets that contacted an estimated 2,500 VRAs from GBI Strategies. Ms. Meisch immediately contacted the Muskegon Police Department. Captain Shawn Bride and Detective Logan Anderson arrived before Ms. Hawkins could leave and they conducted a brief non-custodial interview. After initially providing them with a fictitious date of birth, Ms. Hawkins stated that she was from Georgia, was hired in August to come work in Michigan for GBI Strategies, an organization that she described as specializing in finding unregistered voters in urban areas and helping them to register to vote and to obtain absentee voter ballots.

Ms. Hawkins also said that since she was hired, she had worked in Muskegon, Detroit, Ypsilanti, Flint, Lansing, and Southfield. Captain Bride and Detective Anderson passed all of this information up to the AGCID, which on the following day contacted MSP D/LT Michael Anderson at the MSP 6th District Headquarters in Rockford to request assistance with a joint investigation of alleged voter fraud currently being conducted by the MPD and the AGCID. Subsequently, a Joint Investigative Task Force (JITF) was formed, led by D/LT Anderson with representatives from the MSP, MPD, and the AGCID, with additional support from the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) as needed. An investigation was initiated, and it remains open and ongoing.

OCTOBER 22 - OCTOBER 28, 2020.  With the general election less than 2 weeks away, members of the JITF learned through open source information that GBI Strategies was currently operating in several other states performing voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns on behalf of Democrat Party candidates and PACs.

(In Michigan, GBIS was operating in conjunction with Empower Michigan, a non-profit organization that was established in 2013 by former State Senator Mike Nofs-D. Empower Michigan’s main office was in Lansing and was housed in the same building as the Michigan Democrat Party. The presidential campaign fund for Joe Biden and the senate campaign fund for Gary Peters each paid GBI Strategies $242,000 from each fund.)

MSP obtained a search warrant to gather the GPS tracking and location information for Brianna Hawkins' smart phone. Within 24 hours they had information on her location at the Best Western Hotel in Grand Haven and the location of a GBI Strategies temporary office in Muskegon Heights. With the assistance of USPS Postal Inspectors, the addresses of a GBIS office in Southfield and the return mailing address for EM at a hotel in Auburn Hills were confirmed. Over the course of the next four days, the MSP and MPD set up surveillance on the Best Western Hotel in Grand Haven and the two GBI Strategies offices located in Muskegon Heights and Southfield. The MSP and MPD  pursued general investigative leads on GBI Strategies from open source and licensing information; they examined dozens of VRAs from the Muskegon clerk’s office; they, along with an analyst from the SOS, interviewed multiple Muskegon residents who confirmed that their names and addresses had been unlawfully used on what were now known to be fraudulent VRAs.

Law enforcement then obtained two search warrants: one for Ms. Hawkins’ room at the Best Western Hotel in Grand Haven, and the other for the GBI Strategies office located in Muskegon Heights.


OCTOBER 29, 2020:  Detectives executed the search warrant at the Best Western Hotel in Grand Haven while Detectives and Troopers from the MSP executed the other search warrants at the GBI Strategies office in Muskegon Heights.

Concurrently, MSP D/LT Anderson obtained a search warrant for the GBI Strategies office in Southfield.

When the first search warrant was executed at the Best Western Hotel in Grand Haven, Ms. Hawkins, was not present. The search of her room turned up no new evidence or leads.

By using the tracking, MSP troopers were able to stop Ms. Hawkins who was driving a rental car westbound on I-96. Troopers stopped her near Brighton, at which time she consented to a non-custodial interview, was taken to the Brighton MSP post, and was recorded and videotaped during her interview.


Ms. Hawkins told the two investigators from the attorney general’s office that Gary Bell was in charge of GBI Strategies, that her role was to serve as the Compliance Officer of GBI Strategies in Michigan, and that her primary job was to ensure that VRA forms had every required field completed before the forms were forwarded to the clerks for entry into the QVF. She stated that she had no way to verify any of the information on the VRAs.

She talked about the job of field canvassers, that it was their responsibility to verify the information on the VRAs. She stated that field canvassers were usually local citizens who had been hired on a weekly basis to make sure that no required responses were left unanswered (blank).

Ms. Hawkins further stated that she had been sent from GBI Strategies Southfield office to Muskegon, Saginaw, Flint, and Inkster because many of the VRAs were being FLAGGED (i.e. some required fields were incomplete) and therefore were unable to be downloaded and saved in the GBI Strategies computer system. She said that these problems were systemic and that she was "pretty sure the same problems were happening everywhere.”

She said that she began delivering packets of completed VRAs to Ann Meisch at the Muskegon Clerk's Office in October so that she could check them to make sure they didn't have any FLAGS. Ms. Meisch told her, Hawkins recounted, that “hundreds of false VRAs” were still being turned in. Ms. Hawkins admitted that while she was unable to verify whether or not the actual information on the VRAs was true, she acknowledged that she had seen "thousands of false ones" (primarily due to similar handwriting & duplicate signatures) in her stacks of VRAs and "could not imagine what the Muskegon Clerk had found.” She said that she had no idea why Empower Michigan was mailing VRAs directly to Muskegon when GBI Strategies had a nearby office in Southfield where she was based.  At the conclusion of her interview, her cell phone was seized and taken to the MSP Grand Rapids Computer Crimes Unit for analysis and entry into evidence.

The two GBI Strategies offices (Muskegon Heights and Southfield) held short-term leases which expired on November 4, 2020. MSP detectives and troopers interviewed a total of four GBI Strategies employees. The detectives and troopers saw people return to the offices in cars, but turned away (presumably after seeing the police in the parking lot). Detectives and troopers were unable to interview the office manager of the Southfield GBI Strategies, Ms. Brilus, as she declined to be interviewed without an attorney present.

MSP D/SGT Joseph McMillan recorded a conversation with the CEO of GBI Strategies, Gary Bell, on a cell phone/video chat when Bell called from a location in Iowa to speak with the office manager. He said that GBI Strategies was an "operations firm that helps out around campaigns and....sends people into the community and they knock on doors to engage, educate, and mobilize the community around different elections."

Mr. Brian Lennon, an attorney from the law firm of Warner, Norcross & Judd, arrived while the search warrant was being executed, and he stated he had been retained to represent GBI Strategies in Michigan.

Officers did find two pelican cases with guns and ammunition that contained a total of five semi-automatic rifles fitted with optics & suppressors, and five customized pistols with a folding stock. An agent was called to the scene to field test all of the weapons and check all of the purchase and transfer documentation. He concluded that all weapons were legally owned and stored. None of the weapons or ammunition was seized, and all was left in the custody of the Southfield office manager, Ms. Brilus.

The MSP did seize during the search warrants:

 • employee payroll information;

 • rental vehicle manifest packets;

 • business records;

 • human resources employee information;

 • new hire documents;

 • hundreds of Netspend and Skylight pay cards;

 • financial records;

 • cardboard boxes full of voter registration packets;

 • a stack of voter registration packets from the Muskegon area;

 • training manuals;

 • field canvasser manuals;

 • stacks of USPS shipping receipts;

 • packets of completed & incomplete voter registration applications

 • Human Resources incident reports

 • personal notebooks & journals

 • dozens of new 'burner phones' in boxes;

• and a number of Apple iPads, HP laptops, Samsung tablets and cell phones, a Netgear router, and several personal/business iPhones.

All documents, manifests, records, and cardboard boxes of materials were taken to the Rockford MSP Post to be entered into evidence and secured. MSP Detectives took many photographs on the premises with a Departmental digital camera and saved them to a disc to be entered into evidence. All electronic items seized were taken to the MSP Grand Rapids Computer Crimes Unit for analysis, with the digital evidence recovered from computers and phones downloaded onto a 256GB thumb drive and placed into evidence.


OCTOBER 30, 2020. The day after the three search warrants were executed and all evidence was secured at the Rockford MSP Post & MSP Grand Rapids Computer Crimes Lab for Analysis, MSP Spokesperson Shannon Banner stated in a Press Release to Bridge Magazine, "Any Resulting Registrations Have Been Voided and There Is NO Expected Impact on Any Election."  AG Spokesperson Danny Wimmer stated in a Press Release to The Detroit News that, "A Single Low-Level Person Was Responsible...the System Worked Because the Muskegon City Clerk Caught the Fraudulent Voter Registrations and They Were Never Entered Into the QVF."


OCTOBER 30, 2020 - SEPTEMBER 20, 2022. The written narrative of VOTER FRAUD, MSP Incident Report, 060-0000368-20, which includes multiple Supplemental Incident Reports, is a total of 58 pages in length and essentially ends on the 29th of October after the three search warrants were executed in Grand Haven, Muskegon Heights, and Southfield. The last five pages serve as a Journal that recorded in weekly fashion the overall status of the Joint Investigative Task Force Investigation and any significant happenings. Significant entries were:


11-30-2020   Open Pending Additional Investigation


2-18-2021   Pending AG Action


3-17-2021   Packaging AG and MPD Complaints for AG Prosecutorial Review


3-24-2021   Per AG Investigator Morse, AG Prosecutors Do Not Believe Probable Cause (PC) Exists for IDENTITY THEFT. Search Warrants Had Referenced, "...scanned and retained voter registration forms on computers and placed in drop box"


3-24-2021   MSP D/SGT Ponzetti States that FBI Task Force that She Is Assigned To Has Possible Investigation Regarding [REDACTED] In Other States. Requested MSP, AG, and MPD Reports for Review. All Reports Sent Via Email


4-19-2021   Case Will Remain OPEN as FBI May Have Associated Case. See Journal 10

(Author's Note: Journal 10 was not included in the released FOIA materials by the MSP)


5-28-2021   Case Will Remain OPEN as FBI Has Opened an Investigation on the Nation Wide Organization


12-27-2021   MSP D/SGT Ponzetti From the FBI Task Force Inquired About Viewing Evidence Items 7, 10, 22. Arrangements Being Made to Facilitate This Request Next Week


8-19-2022   Still Maintaining Evidence for FBI


9-20-2022   Status: OPEN



Jocelyn Benson’s ultimate responsibility as Secretary of State is to ensure the integrity of Michigan’s voting population. It is to be maintained, pursuant to law, in the Qualified Voter File (QVF).

When Benson’s office was alerted to the fact that a city that had a voting-aged population of 32,562, received 10,500 – 12,000 new voter registrations over a three month period of time prior to the 2020 election, the secretary of state workers should have felt shock waves. The integrity of the election could have been at stake, but we’ll never know because:


  • The Joint Investigative Task Force DID NOT obtain search warrants for the GBI Strategies offices reported in Flint, Lansing, Ypsilanti, and Inkster.

  • The Joint Investigative Task Force DID NOT obtain a search warrant for the Empower Michigan office reported in Auburn Hills.

  • The Joint Investigative Task Force DID NOT interview the GBIS Office Managers at Muskegon Heights and Southfield, the Empower Michigan Office Manager in Auburn Hills, or any of the Office Managers at the reported GBIS offices in Flint, Lansing, Ypsilanti, and Inkster.

  • There is no indication that local Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, Election Officials, Boards of Canvassers, or Municipal Clerks in Southfield, Lansing, Flint, Ypsilanti, Benton Harbor, and Inkster were made aware that a Joint Investigative Task Force was conducting a major Voter Fraud investigation in their jurisdictions ahead of the November 2020 General Election.

  • There is no indication that any GBI Strategies or Empower Michigan officials or employees were indicted, charged, arrested, tried, or convicted for any offenses related to the Joint Investigative Task Force Investigation of Voter Fraud.

  • There is no indication that the members of the State Board of Elections and State Board of Canvassers were made aware that a Joint Investigative Task Force was conducting a major Voter Fraud investigation ahead of the November 2020 General Election.

It is unknown whether or not the Secretary of State, Board of Elections obtained from the Joint Investigative Task Force the computer images of every voter registration application that was downloaded and saved on GBI Strategies [and Empower Michigan] computers, reviewed them, and removed all invalid or fraudulent voter registrations from the Qualified Voter File PRIOR to the November 2020 General Election.

We will never know if the integrity of the 2020 was at stake, but what we DO KNOW is that the failure to hold anyone accountable by the executive branch of our government (both law enforcement as well as the attorney general and the Secretary of State) is an unmitigated assault on the integrity of our elections and democracy in Michigan.



MSP Investigation, Muskegon Voter Fraud, Oct/Nov 2020

MSP Incident Report
Download PDF • 84.36MB

David Howell, retired Army National Guard Physician Assistant and former State Surgeon; four combat tours in Desert Storm, Iraq (2), and Afghanistan; awarded Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2), and Army Meritorious Service Medal (3). Howell currently serves as a volunteer docent at the Michigan History Museum and takes care of rescued horses with his wife on a small farm west of Lansing.


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The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Michigan Fair Elections. Artificial intelligence may have been used in the creation of this message or in the links referenced herein.


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