Michigan AG Nessel seeks special prosecutor in 2020 election probe

“Dana Nessel has a history of targeting and persecuting her political enemies,” Shepard said

Updated: August 8, 2022 - 2:57pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking a special prosecutor to consider criminal charges against nine people who engaged in a “conspiracy” to gain access to voting machines while disputing the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

The nine people include some high-profile names, including Trump-endorsed, GOP attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, state Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf. The letter says the group convinced local clerks to give access to tabulators that the group took to rented areas in Oakland County, where they printed fake ballots and did other tests.

The Detroit News first reported the story, detailed in a letter from Nessel's office to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

The investigation overview says that the groups “gained unauthorized access and compromised tabulators” from the offices of the Roscommon County Clerk, the Richfield Township Clerk, the Lake City Township Clerk, and the Irving Township Clerk between March 11, 2021, and late June of 2021.

Additionally, the overview says the AG does “…not believe these actions impair the integrity of the recent August 2nd primary election.”

Nessel requested a special prosecutor citing a conflict of interest if she prosecuted DePerno, who she will likely face in November. Nessel’s office also has filed requests for investigation with the Attorney Grievance Commission.

DePerno’s campaign manager Tyson Shepard called Nessel’s actions “unethical.”

“Dana Nessel has a history of targeting and persecuting her political enemies,” Shepard said in a statement. “At the same time she has refused to investigate or prosecute any crime involving Democrats including the deaths resulting from the nursing home COVID scandal.”

DePerno’a campaign website sells “Lock them up” bumper stickers about Nessel and Whitmer, similar to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's invigorating crowds by chanting "Lock her up," referring to his opponent Hillary Clinton.

On "Michigan’s Big Show" Monday, DePerno was asked if he had hid voting machines in hotel rooms.

"I have nothing to do with any hotel rooms or any Airbnbs," DePerno told host Michael Patrick Shiels.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called for “consequences” for people who broke the law.

“There must be consequences for those who broke the law to undermine our elections in order to advance their own political agendas,” Benson said in a statement. “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.”

In a February statement, Benson said that “at least one unnamed third party" had gained access to tabulation machines from Richfield Township and Roscommon County.