The Trump campaign denied hiring two people who were dressed as armed security guards outside of an early voting location in St. Petersburg, Florida and claimed to be affiliated with the President’s re-election campaign.In a video interview with WFLA on Wednesday, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus said that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told her that the two people who set up a tent outside of an early voting site in downtown St. Petersburg said that they worked for a licensed security company and for the Trump campaign.
“(Gualtieri) told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff’s deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company and they indicated – and this has not been confirmed yet – that they were hired by the Trump campaign,” Marcus told WFLA on Wednesday night.
In a statement shared with TPM on Thursday, Thea McDonald, the deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, denied that the individuals were hired by the campaign.
“The campaign did not hire these individuals nor did the campaign direct them to go to the voting location,” McDonald said.
Marcus told WFLA that both she and Gualtieri, who are Republicans up for re-election, take the incident “very seriously” and disavowed voter intimidation tactics.
“Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way shape, or form,” Marcus told WFLA. “So we anticipated many things going into this election. Not only cybersecurity, but physical security and we had a plan in place and executed that plan”
The incident outside of the Florida polling site happened amid concerns over Trump’s encouragement of poll watchers during his disastrous presidential debate last month.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said. “Because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.”