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AG Dana Nessel seeks special prosecutor for 2020 election machine tampering, looking into DePerno

AG Dana Nessel
Posted at 8:40 AM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 17:18:04-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Attorney General's Office is asking for a special prosecutor to investigate whether the Republican candidate for state attorney general and others should be charged in connection with an effort to gain access to voting machines after the 2020 election.

Reports show that Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office has asked that the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, a state agency, appoint a special prosecutor to consider charges against nine people, including Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, state Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.

The newspaper reported that the details of the allegations were made in a letter sent Friday by Nessel's chief deputy attorney general, Christina Grossi, to Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

They involved convincing local clerks to hand over voting tabulators, breaking into them and performing “tests," according to the letter.

The request for a special prosecutor was made because of the potential conflict of interest since Nessel likely will face DePerno in the November election.

DePerno, a lawyer, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. The political newcomer supports Trump’s false claims about his 2020 loss in the swing state to President Joe Biden. DePerno was endorsed by Michigan Republicans at their state convention in April. He will be officially nominated at a second convention later this month, but that was considered a formality.

“Dana Nessel knows she is losing this race," DePerno’s campaign manager, Tyson Shepard, said in a statement Sunday night, The News reported. "She is desperate to win this election at all costs and is now targeting DePerno, her political opponent. Her actions are unethical and will further demonstrate to the voters that she is unfit for office.”

Five tabulators were taken from Roscommon and Missaukee counties in northern Michigan, and Barry County in western Michigan, according to the petition, which further states that Ben Cotton, Jeff Lenberg, Douglas Logan and James Penrose “broke into the tabulators and performed ‘tests’ on the equipment.”

Obtaining undue possession of a voting machine used in an election is a felony punishable by five years in prison, the Detroit News reports.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released the following statement Monday morning, "There must be consequences for those who broke the law to undermine our elections in order to advance their own political agendas. I’m thankful to Attorney General Nessel for conducting this investigation into the tampering of our secure voting machines and referring the case for prosecution. The republican, democratic and nonpartisan election clerks of this state do their jobs with professionalism and integrity, and we will continue to ensure they are equipped with a full understanding of the legal protections in place to block bad actors from pressuring them to gain access to secure election systems.”

FOX 17 spoke to attorney and law professor at WMU-Cooley Law School Lewis Langham Jr. Monday about how this all looks from a legal perspective.

“The Attorney General, she had no choice. She had choice other than to take action,” he told FOX 17.

"It's the only course of action, otherwise you do nothing, and that's not an option.”

He says it shouldn't take long for the Prosecuting Attorney's Coordinated Council to assign a special prosecutor to review the case.

"I'm really shocked and disappointed the way attorneys are somehow caught up in these nonsensical, possibly illegal, activities. It just blows my mind as a professional attorney," he said.

"We have an obligation to the public at large to maintain some type of standards in our profession, And if we sit back and watch other lawyers do things that are a violation of those professional rules, we have to report those things."

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