Matthew Deperno campaign
Former President Donald Trump and Matthew DePerno, Republican candidate for attorney general.
The race for Michigan attorney general took an unexpected turn after the incumbent Dana Nessel requested a special prosecutor to investigate alleged election breaches by her Trump-endorsed opponent Matthew DePerno.
In a petition
requesting a special prosecutor on Friday, Nessel’s office said DePerno and two other people “orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators” that were illegally taken from county clerks.
Nessel announced the referral Monday morning, citing a “potential conflict in the case.”
According to the petition, DePerno’s involvement was discovered during a months-long, joint probe by Nessel’s office and the Michigan State Police. While investigating “a conspiracy to unlawfully obtain access to voting machines used in the 2020 General Election,” state police found that DePerno was involved, the petition states.
"When this investigation began there was not a conflict of interest. However, during the course of the investigation, facts were developed that DePerno was one of the prime instigators of the conspiracy," the petition reads.
Nessel’s office made the request to the Michigan Prosecutor Attorneys Coordinate Council, an autonomous entity within the Department of Attorney General that ultimately will decide if a special prosecutor is warranted.
In February, state police began investigating allegations that supporters of former President Donald Trump gained unlawful access to voting software and tabulating machines in an attempt to prove widespread fraud.
DePerno was at a hotel room where he and three others “broke into” tabulators and performed “tests” on them, according to the petition.
Deperno, a Kalamazoo Republican, has built his reputation around baseless claims of election fraud. He filed an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the results in Antrim County, where a brief error that was quickly corrected turned into a baseless conspiracy peddled by Trump and his supporters.
According to the petition, DePerno received help from state Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake, who informed a clerk that the Michigan House of Representatives was investigating election fraud.
The petition also names Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who previously said he was investigating election fraud.
In a hyperbolic statement late Sunday, DePerno’s campaign said he “categorically denies the allegations.”
“The petition itself is entirely an incoherent liberal fever dream of lies,” the statement reads. “It is clear that Dana Nessel is attacking our democracy and demonstrates she wants to turn our great country into a banana republic.”
The statement continues, “This is a complete absurdity that shows the tactics of the institutional left and Matt DePerno looks forward to defeating her and bringing back orders to this office in November.”
DePerno’s campaign then insisted that if Nessel presses on, she “will ultimately find herself on the defendant’s side of a malicious prosecution case.”
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