LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT/AP) — The Michigan Attorney General's office is asking that a special prosecutor investigate whether the Republican candidate for state attorney general and others should be charged in connection with an effort to gain access to voting machines after the 2020 election.
According to a petition, Attorney General Dana Nessel's office has asked that the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, a state agency, appoint a special prosecutor to consider charges against nine people, including Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, state Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.
The Detroit News reported Sunday that the details of the allegations were made in a letter sent Friday by Nessel's chief deputy attorney general, Christina Grossi, to Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
They involved convincing local clerks to hand over voting tabulators, breaking into them and performing "tests," according to the letter.
The request for a special prosecutor was made because of the potential conflict of interest since Nessel likely will face DePerno in the November election.
"There must be consequences for those who broke the law to undermine our elections in order to advance their own political agendas," Benson said in a statement on Monday. "I'm thankful to Attorney General Nessel for conducting this investigation into the tampering of our secure voting machines and referring the case for prosecution. The republican, democratic and nonpartisan election clerks of this state do their jobs with professionalism and integrity, and we will continue to ensure they are equipped with a full understanding of the legal protections in place to block bad actors from pressuring them to gain access to secure election systems."
DePerno, a lawyer, has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. The political newcomer supports Trump's false claims about his 2020 loss in the swing state to President Joe Biden. DePerno was endorsed by Michigan Republicans at their state convention in April. He will be officially nominated at a second convention later this month, but that was considered a formality.
DePerno issued a statement on Twitter, saying his campaign reviewed the petition and denies the allegations. He calls the petition a "liberal fever dream of lies."
"As the polls continue to rise in the favor of DePerno, the Attorney General used the tax dollars of Michigan residents to go after her opponent. It is clear that Dana Nessel is attacking our democracy and demonstrates she wants to turn our great country into a banana republic," the statement reads.
Five tabulators were taken from Roscommon and Missaukee counties in northern Michigan, and Barry County in western Michigan, according to the petition, which further states that Ben Cotton, Jeff Lenberg, Douglas Logan and James Penrose "broke into the tabulators and performed 'tests' on the equipment."
Cotton, Lenberg, Logan and Penrose have all been involved in efforts to question the 2020 election. Cotton, Lenberg and Penrose were cited as experts by DePerno in a lawsuit involving Antrim County, The News reported.
Logan is the founder of Cyber Ninjas. He was involved in an audit of results in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The News said Leaf didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday and Rendon couldn't be reached.
Obtaining undue possession of a voting machine used in an election is a felony punishable by five years in prison, the newspaper reported.
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