(DETROIT) — A former candidate for attorney general in Michigan pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges associated with his alleged efforts to obtain and damage voting machines in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, according to a court official.
Matthew DePerno, who ran an unsuccessful bid as the Republican candidate in 2020, was charged on four counts, including undue possession of a voting machine, conspiracy to commit unauthorized access to a computer system and willfully damaging a voting machine, according to Richard Lynch, an administrator at the Oakland County court in Michigan.
DePerno was arraigned Tuesday along with Daire Rendon, a former GOP state representative, who was charged with conspiracy to commit undue possession of a voting machine and false pretenses.
“These allegations are incredibly serious and unprecedented,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Tuesday. “The 2024 presidential election will soon be upon us. The lies espoused by attorneys involved in this matter, and those who worked in concert with them across the nation, wreaked havoc and sowed distrust within our democratic institutions and processes.”
Both entered not-guilty pleas, Lynch said.
“We know the 2020 Presidential Election in Michigan was the most heavily scrutinized election in American history, and every audit and review found the election to be secure, fair, and accurate to the will of the voters,” 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.”
Nessel in 2022 requested a special counsel to investigate DePerno, Rendon and others, who allegedly “orchestrated a coordinated plan to gain access to voting tabulators” in three Michigan Counties under the pretense of an “investigation in election fraud,” DePerno said at the time.
The alleged scheme included taking the tabulators to hotel rooms where they were “broken into” and “tested” with fake ballots, Nessel said. The investigators alleged DePerno was present during one such instance of tabulator testing.
At the time, former President Donald Trump publicly praised DePerno as a “tough” candidate who would ensure “fair elections.”
“He’s so tough, people are afraid to even be in the same room with him,” Trump said in an Aug. 6, 2022, CPAC speech. “He’s going to make sure that you’re gonna have law and order and fair elections and so many other things. He is respected by everybody in that state.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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