Attorney General Ellison investigating company reportedly recruiting private election security

Ellison: ‘Minnesotans have every reason to expect our elections will be as safe and secure as they have always been’

October 20, 2020 (SAINT PAUL)— Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has launched an investigation into a Tennessee-based private security company that was reportedly recruiting military veterans to perform services in Minnesota in connection with the November 3 election. 

Attorney General Ellison sent a civil investigative demand — that is, formal requests for information — to Franklin, Tennessee-based Atlas Aegis on October 14. The company is legally bound to reply to the CID within 10 days of its receipt, based on a Ramsey County District Court order. The request attempts to understand who, if anyone, is hiring the private security, what their anticipated role will be – if any – near polling places, what training they will receive, and how they will meet Minnesota's requirements for appropriate licenses and permits. 

“Minnesota and federal law are clear: no one may interfere with or intimidate a voter at a polling place, and no one may operate private armed forces in our state. The presence of private ‘security’ at polling places would violate these laws. It would make no one safer and is not needed or wanted by anyone who runs elections or enforces the law. For these reasons, my office is formally investigating Atlas Aegis,” Attorney General Ellison said.   

“I encourage every eligible Minnesotan to vote in whatever way works best for them,” Attorney General Ellison continued. “Minnesotans have every reason to expect our elections will be as safe and secure as they have always been. We don't expect to have to enforce these laws, but we will use all their power and every resource available to us if we have to.” 

A variety of state and federal laws, along with the Minnesota Constitution, prohibit both intimidating or interfering with voters and operating private armed forces. They include, but are not limited to: 

Prohibiting voter intimidation or interference  

Prohibiting operation or activities of private armed forces  

As a rule, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office does not disclose or confirm the existence of an investigation. Due to heightened public interest and the proximity of the November 3 election, however, the Attorney General’s Office is disclosing the existence of this investigation. The CID itself, as part of an active investigation, is classified as protected non-public data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and is not available for inspection.