There are three Republicans seeking the endorsement of the Michigan GOP to run for Attorney General this year. Former Speaker Tom Leonard is a solid conservative, and state rep Ryan Berman is a conventional Republican. However, the third candidate, Matt DePerno, has attracted the most attention.
DePerno is a trial lawyer from Portage who emerged from obscurity in the wake of the 2020 election. He filed lawsuits alleging fraud in Antrim County that were all eventually dismissed. DePerno raised $389,000 for an "Election Fraud Defense Fund" but has so far refused to say what happened to the money.
He previously represented disgraced former state rep. Todd Courser in a lawsuit against the Detroit News that resulted in both of them having to pay sanctions to the News. Over the years, DePerno was involved in a series of ethical controversies.
As a tax attorney who worked primarily in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, his legal career has been marked by discord. DePerno was fired from one law firm, fought over client records after leaving a second firm and was accused of assaulting a client amid a fee dispute, according to court documents and transcripts reviewed by Bridge.
Given his history, it is fair to ask if DePerno's record matches his rhetoric. I looked up his campaign contributions. DePerno has made only ten state-level political contributions. Five of them were made to various GOP committees in late 2021, and are obviously related to his run for AG. There is also one contribution to the Kalamazoo GOP from back in 2003.
That leaves four individual contributions. Someone who is an antiestablishment conservative could be expected to donate to similar candidates, such as Pat Colbeck, Gary Glenn, Matt Maddock, or even his former client Todd Courser. But instead, his contributions are two each to state rep Brandt Iden and state senator Tonya Schuitmaker. Whatever their other merits, Iden and Tonya are establishment Republicans who resisted efforts to move the GOP in the direction that DePerno now says it needs to go.
DePerno's contributions are not consistent with his rhetoric. They indicate someone who wasn't very political, but was friendly with a couple local Republicans. Republican delegates should pay attention to candidates' records, not just their rhetoric.