Donald Trump and Matthew DePerno
Former U.S. President Donald Trump endorses Matthew DePerno, a Republican running for Michigan attorney general, during a rally on April 2, 2022 near Washington, Michigan.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ethics Defenders Cheer as Trump 'Big Lie' Allies Charged in Michigan

"Today is another day of Michigan values holding strong against lies about our elections," said one campaigner.

Government ethics advocates on Tuesday welcomed the indictment of former Michigan attorney general candidate Matt DePerno and ex-state Rep. Daire Rendon, Republicans who prosecutors say illegally tampered with voting equipment as part of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

DePerno—who was endorsed by Trump—was charged with four crimes, including undue possession of a voting machine and willfully damaging a voting machine, both felonies under Michigan law. Rendon was charged with conspiracy to commit undue possession of a voting machine and false pretenses.

According to court documents, DePerno, Rendon, and others allegedly gained unauthorized access to a ballot machine and convinced local clerks to hand over tabulators. The defendants printed fake ballots and ran tests on the equipment in a failed bid to substantiate Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was rigged by Democrats. President Joe Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes.

"Today is another day of Michigan values holding strong against lies about our elections," Quentin Turner, program director at Common Cause Michigan, said in a statement. "For years, Michiganders of all parties have continued to resoundingly reject lies and conspiracy theories about our election."

"Mr. DePerno, Ms. Rendon, and their team's alleged actions do not reflect the voices of millions who believe in fair, accessible elections and upholding the will of the people," Turner added. "We are convinced that the upcoming case against DePerno and Rendon will result in accountability and show, once again, that Michigan is a state that believes in protecting the rights of its citizens."

DePerno denied any wrongdoing and insisted that he has "uncovered significant security flaws" in Michigan's voting system, according to a statement from his attorney.

The defendants were arraigned via Zoom on Tuesday and released on $5,000 bonds. Neither responded to the charges against them.

"This process is ongoing and still not over," Muskegon County prosecutor DJ Hilson, the special prosecutor in the investigation, said in a statement. Hilson toldMLive that "there is still more to come."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who last year requested the special prosecutor probe, responded to the charges against the pair by accusing them of causing "undeniable harm to our democracy."

"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," she added.

The Michigan indictments came on the same day that Trump was hit with four federal charges in connection with Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe of the former president's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, as well as his role in inciting the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Trump—who in recent months has also been indicted in a Miami federal court and on 34 counts in a New York state case involving alleged hush money payments—could also soon be facing charges stemming from Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' investigation of efforts to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.