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Former Michigan GOP attorney general nominee is charged in voting machine breach

Matthew DePerno, the 2022 Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general, speaks during a Trump rally in Warren, Mich. DePerno is being investigated for his involvement in an alleged scheme to tamper with voting machines.
Emily Elconin
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Matthew DePerno, the 2022 Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general, speaks during a Trump rally in Warren, Mich. DePerno is being investigated for his involvement in an alleged scheme to tamper with voting machines.

Updated August 1, 2023 at 5:22 PM ET

The most recent Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general faces criminal charges for an alleged effort to gain access to voting machines after the 2020 election as the results were being contested by then-President Donald Trump. That's after Democratic nominee Joe Biden won Michigan.

Matthew DePerno, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in the 2022 election, has been charged with undue possession of a voting machine, willfully damaging a voting machine and conspiracy, according to the special prosecutor investigating the case.

DePerno, an attorney, had been endorsed in that 2022 contest by Trump, and he rose to prominence after pushing Trump's baseless claims about the 2020 election in Michigan court. DePerno then became a target of the probe into the alleged effort to unlawfully access voting machines.

DePerno blasted the investigation, which Nessel had shifted to a special prosecutor because DePerno was both a target of the probe and her political opponent.

Paul Stablein, an attorney for DePerno, said in a statement that his client "maintains his innocence and firmly believes that these charges are not based upon any actual truth and are motivated primarily by politics rather than evidence."

Also charged was former Republican state Rep. Daire Rendon. Both Rendon and DePerno were arraigned Tuesday in Oakland County, Mich., and released on bond. Rendon could not be immediately reached for comment.

The special prosecutor, DJ Hilson of Muskegon County, said in a statement that the "process is still ongoing and not over."

In a statement of her own, Nessel said: "The alleged actions by these defendants, and others, who worked to erode trust in our election system caused undeniable harm to our democracy."

After his loss to Nessel, DePerno unsuccessfully sought election as state GOP chair.

With reporting by Rick Pluta of the Michigan Public Radio Network

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Washington Desk