LANSING, Mich. — Republican Attorney General candidate Matthew DePerno, Barry Co. Sheriff Dar Leaf, and Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, are among nine Michigan Republicans who could potentially face criminal charges over allegedly illegally accessing voting equipment in a quest to prove false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, a Detroit News report says.
DePerno, who is expected to receive the formal Republican nomination for Michigan Attorney General in the coming weeks, was a lawyer for former President Donald Trump in his lawsuit over the election results in Northern Michigan's Antrim County.
The Portage-based lawyer was involved in a "conspiracy" to gain access to voting machines as part of a larger effort to cast doubt on and potentially change the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan, per The Detroit News.
The office of Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who will likely face DePerno in the November midterm election, has been investigating illegal attempts to access voting machines used in the 2020 election for months. It is a felony to illegally access or tamper with election machines in Michigan.
In a letter to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from Friday, Chief Deputy Attorney General Christina M. Grossi requests a special prosecutor to consider bringing charges against the nine individuals.
"We view the actions of these individuals to be very serious, yet we do not believe these actions impair the integrity of the recent August 2nd primary election," the letter, obtained by Sinclair Broadcast Group in Michigan.
The letter does not name DePerno or the other eight figures potentially facing charges.
Michigan State Police have been involved in the investigation for months, and have previously seized voting machines as part of the investigation.
Leaf, a Republican, filed a lawsuit in the Court of Claims in June saying local and state law enforcement had illegally interfered with his own investigation into "voter fraud."
In a public statement, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson supported potential consequences for those who violated Michigan law.
“There must be consequences for those who broke the law to undermine our elections in order to advance their own political agendas," said Benson. "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."
Neither DePerno's campaign, nor Leaf or Rendon, responded to a request for comment on Sunday evening.
On Twitter, however, DePerno posted a response calling the potential charges a "witch hunt," with the candidate "categorically [denying] the allegations presented."
"This is a complete absurdity that shows the tactics of the institutional left and Matt DePerno looks forward to defeating [Nessel] and bringing back order to this office in November," the statement reads.
Two hours after the report went public, DePerno began fundraising off the news, writing in a tweet asking for donations that "hitting opponents with made up charges close to an election is the behavior of 3rd world dictatorships NOT the USA!"
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