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Michigan AG candidate Matt DePerno gets his moment at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago

Matt DePerno
Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement is critical to Matt DePerno, who wants to be Michigan’s next attorney general. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)

April 21: DePerno loses another bid for Antrim County audit as court dismisses appeal
April 12: Trump favorite Matt DePerno back in court, seeks another Antrim County audit
March 24: Firm: Michigan AG hopeful Matt DePerno fired over ‘padded,’ false billings

Former president Donald Trump had a singular way of praising Michigan Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno.

“I never knew that any human being could engender so much hate,” Trump told a crowd of fellow Republicans attending a Tuesday night fundraiser for DePerno at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.

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“But I have, also,” Trump added.

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DePerno’s actions on Trump’s behalf — spreading debunked 2020 election lies, and conspiracy theories — have actually served him well. He was one of the first Michigan candidates running for statewide office who secured Trump’s endorsement. 

It has also given DePerno a chance to capitalize on Trump’s support. 

Individual tickets for DePerno’s fundraiser ranged from $2,500 to $25,000. One ticket to the event gave folks the chance to hear from DePerno, who promised to “restore Michigan back to a constitutional republic” if he’s elected.

“We are fighting for the nation right now and for the state of Michigan, and we will take it back,” DePerno said, before introducing Trump.

For the most part Tuesday, Trump talked about himself. He said he “won Michigan by so much” in 2020. In fact, Trump lost Michigan to Democratic President Joe Biden by over 154,000 votes.

Audits of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan have not shown any significant irregularities. In fact, a recent review by the Michigan Auditor General Office found that 99.9 percent of all ballots were casted legally and properly counted.

DePerno’s campaign didn’t respond Wednesday to Bridge Michigan’s inquiries on how many people attended and how much was raised. 

However, dollar totals may be somewhat besides the point. Indeed, campaign finance disclosures show DePerno’s campaign paid roughly $17,200 to Mar-A-Lago for catering and rental, joining a slew of Republican candidates across the country who have paid to appear at Mar-A-Lago. For lesser-known political candidates like DePerno, Trump's endorsement and a photo with the former president are the real prize in GOP primaries.

The crowd was excited to see Trump. According to a video of the event posted on Facebook by Republican activist Londa Gatt, at some point an attendee interrupted Trump to say that DePerno had a “great Italian name.”

Former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd at the Mar-A-Lago fundraiser Tuesday for Michigan attorney general candidate Matt DePerno. (Londa Gatt Facebook video)

“Yes, he’s got a great Italian name, and I like Italians,” Trump replied. 

Right after, Trump called on stage other Michigan Republican candidates in attendance, including Michigan GOP Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo, and Michigan state Rep. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, who is running to unseat Congressmember Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.

Upton was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Republican gubernatorial candidates Perry Johnson and Ralph Rebandt took the state. Another candidate, Ryan Kelley tried to join Trump on stage, but was initially blocked by security. 

“President Trump, I’m also running for governor,” Kelley said, interrupting the former president. “Can I come over?”

Trump allowed him to go on stage, saying “Perry doesn’t mind.”

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Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock was there. Trump said Maddock has been very friendly to him and a long-time supporter. 

Gustavo Portela, a spokesperson for the Michigan Republican Party, told Bridge Michigan that Trump invited Maddock to attend the event, but that her presence doesn’t mean she’s endorsing a particular candidate. 

“Meshawn supports all of our candidates for governor,” Portela said. “She wants to defeat (Gov.) Gretchen Whitmer, (Attorney General) Dana Nessel, and (Secretary of State) Jocelyn Benson.

“That’s a focus she shares with every single member of our grassroots.”

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