State Watch

Michigan AG requests special prosecutor investigate opponent for voting machine access

AP Photo/Paul Sancya
In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel attends an event for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in Clawson, Mich. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) on Friday requested a special prosecutor investigate her opponent’s alleged involvement in a group that gained unauthorized access to voting machines.

Politico published a petition from Nessel’s office calling for the special prosecutor after her investigation into the alleged scheme found ties to Matthew DePerno, the presumptive Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general, who is endorsed by former President Trump.

“When this investigation began there was not a conflict of interest,” the petition states. “However, during the course of the investigation, facts were developed that DePerno was one of the prime instigators of the conspiracy.”

The Hill has reached out to the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, the group that received the petition, for comment.

Nessel’s investigation began after a request in February from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who said she received reports that at least one unnamed third party was able to “gain inappropriate access” to voting machines in Richfield Township and Roscommon County.

Nessel’s office publicly announced the request in a statement on Monday and said it provided an overview of its findings to Benson.

Reuters on Sunday first publicly revealed DePerno’s alleged ties in Nessel’s investigation, and Politico moments later reported on her office’s request for a special prosecutor.

Reuters cited court documents alleging DePerno led a team that gained unauthorized access to voting machines in Richfield Township.

In its petition, Nessel’s office said the special prosecutor should review charges like willfully damaging a voting machine and fraudulent access to a computer system.

Trump in September endorsed DePerno, who is a vocal supporter of the former president’s unfounded claims of election fraud. 

Tyson Shepard, DePerno’s campaign manager, in a statement called Nessel’s actions “unethical.”

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

“At the same time she has refused to prosecute any crime involving Democrats including the deaths resulting from the nursing home COVID scandal,” he added.

Republican state lawmakers have grilled Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration for her executive order early in the pandemic that placed seniors recovering from COVID-19 in dedicated isolation wings in nursing homes, arguing the policy led to more deaths.

–Updated on Aug. 8 at 12:12 p.m.

Tags Dana Nessel dana nessel Donald Trump election fraud Jocelyn Benson Matthew DePerno Matthew DePerno Michigan attorney general race Trump voting machines
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