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Nessel wants outside prosecutor to look into election tampering allegations

Michigan Department of Attorney General
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has asked a council of local prosecutors to take the unusual step of naming an outside counsel to look into allegations of election tampering and illegally seizing voting machines. The reason: One of the targets of the inquiry is her likely November election opponent, Matthew DePerno.

In the filing, Nessel’s office said the request for a special prosecutor is necessary to avoid a conflict of interest in the case.

From the filing with the Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council:

“When this investigation began there was not a conflict of interest. However, during the course of the investigation, facts were developed that DePerno was one of the prime instigators of the conspiracy.”

The filing says “now it is time or a prosecutorial review of the charges.”

The allegations include taking part in seizing vote tabulators from local clerks and breaking into them to look at the results.

DePerno, a Republican, has raised unproven allegations of fraud in the 2020 elections. He has called for prosecuting Nessel, as well as Governor Gretchen Whitmer – both Democrats.

DePerno told Michigan Public Radio he did nothing wrong related to the 2020 election.

“So what she’s doing is using the attorney general’s office to fund an investigation into her political opponent,” he said. “That has to be an illegal campaign contribution. It has to be.”

DePerno won a critical early step toward facing Nessel by winning a majority of votes at the Michigan Republicans’ April endorsement convention, which puts him on track to win the formal nomination at the state GOP convention next month.

There are a total of nine people named as targets of a state election tampering inquiry. The group facing possible misconduct allegations includes Republican state Representative Daire Rendon and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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