Aug 31, 2022 - Politics

AG candidate highlights far right influence on Republican party

DePerno at the Republican nominating convention
Matt DePerno at the Republican nominating convention in Lansing. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Matt DePerno, a self-proclaimed constitutional attorney from Kalamazoo County, is running for attorney general as the de facto leader of the grassroots contingency of the Michigan Republican Party.

Why it matters: DePerno posting a Pepe the Frog graphic on Twitter this week, a symbol associated with alt-right groups, marks how grassroots activists are influencing the top of the Republican ticket.

Driving the news: DePerno is currently among a group under state investigation for taking vote tabulators and performing "tests" on them following the 2020 election.

  • Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel's office announced earlier this month it referred the investigation to a special prosecutor to consider charges against DePerno and others who gained unauthorized access into voting machines in rural townships.

The intrigue: A Trump loyalist and election denier, DePerno declined to answer whether he funded the tabulator testing operation when asked by the Detroit News on Monday.

What they're saying: DePerno tells Axios he believes Nessel is weaponizing her office against a political opponent without evidence. He didn't say why he took the tabulators or what he found on them.

  • "They're coming after us in order to message, so that we have reporters asking me those questions," DePerno says of the investigation. "They'll never be able to prove what they're trying to prove."
  • DePerno claimed Nessel wants to defund the police despite her repeated defense of her opposition to minimizing police funding.
  • Our interview was ended by a DePerno staffer after Axios pointed that out.
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