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DePerno loses another bid for Antrim County audit as court dismisses appeal

Matthew DePerno
Matthew DePerno is a Republican candidate for attorney general who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. (Zoom Court of Appeals screenshot)

Another Michigan court has dismissed claims of election irregularities raised by Republican attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno.

In an opinion released Thursday, a three-judge panel found there were "no allegations in the complaint to support that the purported irregularities in Antrim County 'might have affected the outcome' of the presidential election."

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"Instead, plaintiff merely raised a series of questions about the election without making any specific factual allegations as required," the opinion reads.

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The decision comes one day after former President Donald Trump hosted a telephone town hall with Republican convention delegates to support DePerno, who has been an active supporter of the former president's false claims about election fraud in Michigan.

Central to those claims is Antrim County, where DePerno had sought to revive his client William Bailey’s request for an independent audit.

Local election officials initially reported incorrect results that showed Democrat Joe Biden winning the reliably Republican county over Trump. The county’s clerk blamed human error and quickly fixed the mistake. 

Last year, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer dismissed a lawsuit demanding a new audit, citing official statewide audits and a hand recount conducted by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office that confirmed the results certified by election officials. 

Arguing before a Michigan Court of Appeals, DePerno suggested the Secretary of State’s review of the results didn’t go far enough, telling the three-judge panel that it’s the “individual right” of every registered voter in Michigan to obtain a robust audit of election results under a 2018 constitutional amendment.

The court concluded that constitutional provision was "not unlimited" and does not allow an individual voter to dictate the terms of an audit on election results so long as one is performed in a lawful manner.

The three-judge panel that wrote the opinion includes two appointees of former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, Judges Thomas Cameron and Michael Gadola. 

Judge Mark Cavanagh, the third judge on the case, won the seat in a nonpartisan election.

The appeal was the latest effort by DePerno and Bailey to raise questions about the northern Michigan county’s election results in the wake of Trump’s loss to Biden.

A Michigan Bureau of Elections hand recount of Antrim County ballots that was open to the public and streamed online showed a total of 9,759 votes for Trump and 5,959 for Biden, a net change of 12 votes from the previously tabulated results. 

Biden won Michigan by 154,188 votes.

“This decision joins a growing number of court rulings that continue to uphold the legitimacy and accuracy of our elections," Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement. 

"As we have remained from the very beginning, my office is committed to preserving the integrity of our democratic system. The panel’s ruling is additional reinforcement in this important fight.” 

Tom Leonard, a former House speaker and Republican also running for attorney general, has urged DePerno to disclose what happened to the nearly $400,000 he raised for an “Election Fraud Defense Fund” in 2020. The money was spent on the Antrim County case, Bailey said in a recent video posted on Rumble, a conservative social media channel.

"We had to hire a cyber team, right, and they were mobile because we had to protect them from getting found by the deep state," Bailey said, explaining that "cyber team" expenses included meals and motels. "We stretched every penny to get the stuff we had."

The Republican-led Senate Oversight Committee, which spent months investigating many of the claims made about Michigan’s election process, found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election and urged investigations into “those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

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DePerno is in a tight race for the Republican attorney general nomination with Tom Leonard, a former state House speaker who is seeking the chance for a rematch with sitting Attorney General Dana Nessel. State Rep. Ryan Berman, R-Commerce, is also running.

On Saturday, Michigan Republican delegates will vote to endorse an attorney general candidate to face Nessel in the November election, a decision typically made official in a separate August convention. 

In addition to Trump’s support, DePerno has picked up an endorsement from Michigan Republican Party Co-chair Meshawn Maddock, who called DePerno and Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo the “strongest candidates” to address “the stolen 2020 election.”

On Wednesday night, Trump championed DePerno as “real winner, a championship fighter, one of the toughest people in court anywhere in the nation with an unbelievable track record of victory.”

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