Radical right-wing candidate for Attorney General, who has his own checkered past, can’t be trusted to serve as Michigan’s top law enforcement agent
LANSING — In 2020, there was absolutely no mass election fraud involving Antrim County voting machines.
That’s the consensus of a Republican-led Senate oversight committee investigation, judges who heard the supposed evidence in court, and even scandal-plagued former GOP House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who told then-President Trump during a trip to D.C. shortly after the election that the Antrim voting irregularities were the result of human error — not a plot to overturn the election, according to a new book by two New York Times political reporters.
That hasn’t stopped Matt DePerno, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Michigan Attorney General, from continuing to spread the largely self-created conspiracy theory that Dominion voting machines in Northern Michigan were hacked and votes were somehow changed from Trump to Biden. On election night, Biden was temporarily declared the winner in Antrim County before the error was discovered in a matter of hours. Trump was later certified as the winner of the county.
“Any halfway serious person who has examined the events in Antrim County knows that nothing more nefarious than a simple human mistake caused the initial error in the vote tally,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “There was no plot to hack the machines by Democrats, a shadowy cabal, Venezuela, or anybody else. DePerno probably knows this too, but to admit that would mean he’d also have to explain what happened to the $400,000 he raised for his so-called defense fund. If Lee Chatfield, with all his problems, can see DePerno for who he is, I’m confident voters will also see right through DePerno’s conspiracies and lies.”
On Nov. 20, 2020, Chatfield, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and other GOP lawmakers were summoned to D.C. by Trump. While there, the book “This Shall Not Pass” recounts, Chatfield told Michigander and Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that he had tried to convince Trump that DePerno’s Antrim County conspiracy theories were not true.
Trump continues to this day to insist that widespread voter fraud occurred in swing states in the 2020 election despite dozens of court rulings and investigative findings to the contrary. In fact, DePerno’s willingness to continue the election fraud charade is what sealed the deal on Trump’s endorsement of him before the April 23 Michigan GOP convention.
DePerno has also made light of the Jan. 6 insurrection and suggested on a 2021 candidate questionnaire that he spent the day in D.C. meeting with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — “Note to readers: Don’t tell the FEDS!” he wrote. That meeting, with senior State Dept. official Robert Destro, was confirmed by Destro this week in a Washington Post report.
DePerno has a long history of being mired in lies, conspiracy theories, and chicanery, said Sarah Stevenson, spokesperson for Attorney General Dana Nessel’s re-election campaign. She pointed to a report in Bridge Michigan earlier this year that detailed numerous incidents in which DePerno was sued by his law clients and fired for padding his billing invoices.
DePerno first came to the media’s attention in 2015 as part of the scandal that brought down former State Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, who were caught spending taxpayer resources to cover up an extramarital affair. DePerno served as Courser’s attorney and attempted to sue the Detroit News for defamation. He lost the case and was ordered to pay the newspaper a $20,000 settlement.
“DePerno clearly does not have the steady hand on the tiller that state residents need to lead the Michigan Attorney General’s office,” Stevenson added. “His knack for getting caught up in scandals and lies, as well as his sympathy toward election deniers and insurrectionists, make him uniquely unqualified for the job of our state’s top cop. We need someone who will fight to protect us from scams, which Attorney General Nessel has spent her time in office doing — not perpetrating them. It’s time to send DePerno back under the rock he crawled out from.”