Matthew DePerno: What to know about Michigan GOP attorney general candidate
Nov 2. Where Michigan attorney general foes Dana Nessel and Matthew DePerno stand
Attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno is a favorite of former President Donald Trump and a leading proponent of efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan.
DePerno, who never held elected office, rode Trump’s endorsement to win the Republican Party nomination over two candidates who have served in the Legislature.
DePerno’s biggest claim to fame has been his efforts to find evidence that fraud cost Trump the election. His work on an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging 2020 results in Antrim County put him on the front lines of Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, and litigation involving that effort continues.
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DePerno has begun to pivot to other issues during the general election campaign, but a special prosecutor is investigating him and others on allegations they illegally accessed voting machine equipment in their efforts to investigate the election.
DePerno faces incumbent Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel on Nov. 8.
DePerno, 53, is a Portage-based attorney who primarily works on tax cases and worked primarily in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. He also represented former state Rep. Todd Courser in a sex scandal cover-up case, which ended with Courser pleading no contest to willful neglect of duty by a public officer.
DePerno has a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and later earned law degrees from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and New York University School of Law. He has a wife and three children.
DePerno skyrocketed to fame in conservative circles in the aftermath of the 2020 election, alleging voting machines were compromised because unofficial results were skewed toward President Joe Biden before they were corrected.
DePerno raised nearly $400,000 for an “Election Fraud Defense Fund” in 2020, and critics have urged him to disclose what he did with that money.
He been critical of Nessel’s record as attorney general, accusing her of botching the criminal case involving the Flint water scandal and referring to her as “drunk Dana” because she admitted being intoxicated at a college football game.
DePerno has also referred to Nessel, who is gay, as a “groomer,” which has drawn condemnation.
DePerno is a leading advocate for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election. He has claimed he wants to prosecute Nessel as well as fellow Democratic incumbents Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for "for all the damage they have done" in office.
DePerno has also said he supports and would enforce the state’s 1931 ban on abortion. He’s also suggested banning Plan B, an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy if taken within three days of having unprotected sex. The contraceptive prevents ovulation and does not induce an abortion. On his website he states he would declare critical race theory unconstitutional, calling it “a Marxist agenda.”
DePerno is well-known and well-liked by many clients, but his legal career has been marked by some discord. He was fired from one law firm, fought over client records after leaving a second firm and was accused of assaulting a client amid a fee dispute, according to court documents and transcripts reviewed by Bridge Michigan.
DePerno is one of nine people who were investigated by Nessel's office for an alleged Michigan vote tabulator tampering scheme. Nessel's office began its investigation in February, before DePerno was her opponent. Because of the conflict of interest of investigating him, Nessel sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to decide if charges are warranted.
DePerno and state Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, were part of a group accused of "gain(ing) unauthorized access and compromised tabulators" in Roscommon County, Richfield Township, Lake Township and Irving Township between March and June of 2021, state attorneys allege.
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