Tennessee-based company admits statements it was recruiting private security for polling places are incorrect; agrees not to provide any security services in Minnesota around November 3 election
October 23, 2020 (SAINT PAUL)— Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has won a written assurance from Tennessee-based security company Atlas Aegis that it is not recruiting and will not recruit or provide private security at or near polling places in Minnesota in conjunction with the November 3 election. The company admits that its statements that it was doing so are incorrect. Attorney General Ellison announced on October 20 that his office had launched an investigation into Atlas Aegis.
As part of the settlement, Atlas Aegis agrees not to provide any security services in Minnesota around the November 3 election; not to intimidate any voters in Minnesota; and to communicate through its channels that it was wrong to suggest it was recruiting security for “protection of election polls” in Minnesota.
“Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have. One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I’m 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.”
“Minnesota and federal law are clear: it is strictly illegal to intimidate or interfere with voters. I want to make to make it crystal clear to anyone who is even thinking about intimidating voters that I will not hesitate to enforce the laws against it to the fullest extent,” Attorney General Ellison concluded.
Atlas Aegis was never asked to provide election security
In an Assurance of Discontinuance filed today in Ramsey County District Court, Atlas Aegis admits the following:
• A Minnesota security company sought security officers to work at the private property of its clients around the date of the November 3 election. It never indicated the work would involve any security at or near polling places, and made it clear the work would be performed only at the private property of its clients.
• Atlas Aegis received word of this staffing request from other industry contacts. Those contacts did not indicate that the scope of work would encompass polling places.
• Atlas Aegis solicited individuals in its network for this assignment. Of its own accord, without the prompting or knowledge of its industry contacts or the prime security contractor, it advertised that the scope of work included security “to protect election polls.”
• Atlas Aegis and its chairman Anthony Caudle misunderstood the potential scope of work, which did not include any security at or near polling places or “election sites.” Caudle had no direct information to suggest that Minnesota election officials or Minnesota law enforcement were aware that “armed civilians intended to guard polling sites,” as he represented to the Washington Post.
Atlas Aegis acknowledges its statements were incorrect
Atlas Aegis additionally admits the following:
• Atlas Aegis acknowledges that its statements to the Washington Post were incorrect. In making these statements, Atlas Aegis did not intend to intimidate, coerce, or threaten Minnesota voters, poll workers, or others aiding or urging Minnesota voters to vote; or to make Minnesota voters less willing to vote.
• Neither Atlas Aegis as a company, nor any of its officers or employees, have been engaged to perform work in Minnesota in November.
• No officers or employees or contractors of Atlas Aegis will be present in Minnesota in November, nor will they be acting as “security” at polling places or election sites.
• Atlas Aegis is not aware of any other individuals or groups who plan to provide private “security” at polling places or election sites in Minnesota in connection with the election.
Atlas Aegis will not provide security in Minnesota around November 3 elections, will not intimidate voters, will retract misstatements
Atlas Aegis agrees to the following terms of the Assurance of Discontinuance:
• Atlas Aegis shall not provide any protective agent services in Minnesota from October 22, 2020 through January 1, 2022.
• Atlas Aegis will not seek to intimidate voters, in Minnesota or elsewhere, in connection with the election.
• Atlas Aegis shall communicate to each and every listserv, job board, and individual to whom it originally sent its request for election security in Minnesota that it was wrong to suggest the scope of work included “protection of election polls.”
If Atlas Aegis violates the Assurance of Discontinuance, it is liable for a $50,000 penalty.
State law prohibits voter intimidation, private armed forces
As a reminder, a variety of state and federal laws, along with the Minnesota Constitution, prohibit intimidating or interfering with voters and operating private armed forces in Minnesota. They include, but are not limited to:
Prohibiting voter intimidation or interference
• Minn. Stat. § 204C.06
• Minn. Stat. § 211B.07
• 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(1)(A)
• 18 U.S.C. § 594
• 52 U.S.C. § 20511(1)
Prohibiting operation or activities of private armed forces
• Minnesota Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 14
• Minn. Stat. § 609.669
• Minn. Stat. § 624.61