Michigan Trump Allies Arraigned in Voting Machine Plot

Investigation Not Over

Matt DePerno, Trump-backed former candidate for Michigan AG, and Daire Rendon, former Republican state representative, were arraigned on Tuesday for crimes that involved accessing and tampering with voting tabulators.

DePerno and Rendon were arraigned Tuesday afternoon remotely on Zoom and released on $5,000 personal bonds.

An independent citizens grand jury listened to sworn testimony and looked at the evidence in the case before returning a decision to indict.

DePerno was named as the “prime instigator” in the case, which was assigned to Special Prosecutor D.J. Hilson to avoid a conflict of interest. DePerno ran against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in 2022.

Prosecutors waited for clarification from a judge about what constitutes illegal possession of a voting machine. Some of the defendants argued that local clerks gave them permission to take the machines.

In July, a state judge ruled that it’s a felony to take a machine without a court order or permission directly from the Secretary of State’s office.

That felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.

From part of a statement issued by AG Nessel:

“These allegations are incredibly serious and unprecedented. 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. We hope for swift justice in the courts, and that the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission takes a sincere and sober assessment of the actions of the attorneys involved in the campaign of circulating disinformation about our elections and any related criminal activities. Lawyers who utilize their professional licenses to undermine our democracy and violate the law have no business practicing law in Michigan or any other state. Furthermore, every officeholder, including local clerks, sheriffs, and legislators, should be expected to uphold and abide by the law. Our democracy simply cannot survive further attacks from within these essential offices of local, county and state government.”

Nine individuals were targeted in the investigation, and Hilson confirmed on Tuesday the investigation into the handling of tabulators in Michigan was “ongoing and not over,” which could mean other individuals will be charged.

The nine included DePerno and lawyer Stefanie Lambert as well as Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf; Rendon, then a Republican lawmaker from Lake City; and Douglas Logan, the founder of Cyber Ninjas, who was involved in the audit of 2020 election results in Arizona’s Maricopa County.

Leaf, who attempted to conduct an election fraud probe in his conservative county, said in a text message Tuesday that he didn’t expect to be charged in the special prosecutor’s investigation.

Five vote tabulators were taken from three counties in Michigan to a hotel room, where documents say DePerno was present. Investigators found that the tabulators were broken into and “tests” were performed on the equipment.

Detroit News, WXYZ, CNN