Michigan’s Democratic attorney general is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate her Donald Trump-backed challenger after finding evidence linking him to a potentially criminal plot to seize and tamper with voting machines used in the 2020 election, according to a letter obtained by CNN and documents released Monday by the attorney general’s office.
For months, the Michigan State Police and the attorney general’s office have been investigating a series of voting machine breaches that took place in several counties around the state last year. According to the documents released Monday, that probe has led investigators to Kalamazoo-based lawyer Matthew DePerno, a Republican candidate running against incumbent Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Trump has thrown his support behind DePerno, and he picked up an endorsement earlier this year from Michigan Republican Party activists, paving the way for him to officially become the GOP nominee for attorney general at the party convention later this month. He is one of several Trump-backed election deniers who are currently running to become the top law enforcement officer or the top election official in their states.
Nessel is now asking for a special prosecutor to be appointed to avoid a potential conflict of interest. The investigation into voting machine breaches has unearthed facts that indicate DePerno and two other associates may have broken the law when they “orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators,” according to Nessel’s office.
“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,” Nessel’s office wrote in an August 5 petition for the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Counsel to appoint a special prosecutor.
The DePerno campaign tweeted a statement late Sunday saying he has reviewed the petition for a special prosecutor and “denied the allegations presented.” The statement also says, “the claims presented by Nessel show a completely unwarranted and erroneous attack based on political prosecution.”
The request from Nessel’s office alleges that DePerno was present in a hotel room in early 2021 when a group of individuals performed unauthorized “tests” on voting tabulators they had seized from multiple Michigan counties – suggesting investigators have evidence that directly links him to the potentially illegal breaches.
“We have requested the appointment of a Special Prosecuting Attorney to review the case for the issuance of possible criminal charges against several of the individuals involved. We view the actions of these individuals to be very serious,” Nessel’s office wrote in a letter to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a fellow Democrat, summarizing the investigation’s findings.