MN AG Reaches Settlement With Firm That Sought To Recruit Armed Polling Place Guards

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison exits the Hennepin County Family Justice Center after a pretrial hearing for the four former Minneapolis Police officers charged in the death o... MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison exits the Hennepin County Family Justice Center after a pretrial hearing for the four former Minneapolis Police officers charged in the death of George Floyd on September 11, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ellison, and his office, are leading the prosecution of the four former officers. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 26, 2020 11:05 a.m.

A security contractor that sought to recruit special operations veterans to patrol polling places in Minnesota has reached an agreement with the state’s attorney general’s office to abandon that effort, both sides announced Friday. 

According to an agreement between the attorney general’s office and Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based security firm, neither the company nor any of its contractors will act as “security” at polling places or election sites. The firm agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty if a judge finds that it violated the agreement. 

Under the agreement, Atlas Aegis maintained that its call for hired guns was posted in response to a Minnesota-based security firm seeking help to protect private property — not polling sites — and that Atlas added language in job listings about “protecting election polls” on its own accord.

The company, according to the agreement, is not aware of any other individuals or groups planning to provide election-related “security” at polling places. 

The Washington Post first reported on the recruitment effort earlier this month, quoting Atlas Aegis’ chairman Anthony Caudle as saying his men would patrol polling sites “to make sure that the antifas don’t try to destroy the election sites.” 

That line was eventually quoted in a lawsuit filed last week by the state chapters of the League of Women Voters and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

“In fact, Caudle and Atlas Aegis misunderstood the potential scope of work, which did not include any security at or near polling places or ‘election sites,’” the agreement reached Friday read. Under the agreement, Atlas Aegis maintained that the company did not intend to intimidate or threaten Minnesotan voters.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who’d launched an investigation into the recruitment effort last week after the groups announced their lawsuit, said in a statement that he was “holding Atlas Aegis to account for their misstatements about recruiting security for polling places in Minnesota that potentially frightened Minnesota voters.” 

“They won’t be doing it again and will not be anywhere in Minnesota before, during, or after Election Day,” Ellison added. 

In a joint statement Saturday, CAIR and the League of Women Voters of Minnesota called the agreement “an important victory for the right to vote and for our democracy.” 

“We will remain vigilant with this case in continuing to fight to protect the voting rights of all Minnesota citizens and to block any attempt to intimidate voters leading into Election Day and during the vote-counting process following the election,” the groups said.

Atlas Aegis did not respond to TPM’s request for comment Monday.

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