GOP Candidate for Michigan Attorney General Was Previously Accused of ‘Fraud, Deceit and Dishonesty’: Report

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By Kaishi Chhabra

March 30, 2022

Matthew DePerno has previously fueled conspiracy theories about election in the 2020 presidential election.

Need to Know

  • Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno was reportedly fired from a law firm in 2005 for overcharging clients and falsifying billings.
  • DePerno has been endorsed by Donald Trump and Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock. 
  • If he wins in the Michigan primary on Aug. 4, DePerno will be facing current Michigan Attorney General  Dana Nessel in the Nov. 8 election.

MICHIGAN—Matthew DePerno wants to be Michigan’s next attorney general—but his work history might end up getting in the way. According to court records reviewed by Bridge Michigan, the Republican candidate was fired from a law firm in 2005 for allegedly overcharging clients and falsifying billings. 

DePerno is considered a frontrunner for the Republican Party’s AG nomination along with state Rep. Ryan Berman and former state House Speaker Tom Leonard, the 2018 GOP nominee. Former President Donald Trump and Michigan Republican Party’s co-chair Meshawn Maddock have both endorsed DePerno to be Michigan’s next top law enforcement official. On Saturday, the former president will be in Washington Township to campaign on DePerno’s behalf.

But, as Bridge Michigan’s Jonathsn Oosting writes, “his legal career has been marked by discord.” DePerno’s colleagues at Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos PC alleged he overcharged the clients for personal and professional benefit. An interoffice memo noted that DePerno had “padded” billings, claimed “excessive” write-offs, and “manipulated” billable hours.

A 2006 legal filing from his former law firm wrote that DePerno “committed fraud, deceit and dishonesty with regards to bogus billing, duplicate billing and write offs, in addition to other wrongful acts.” 

DePerno sued the firm over his firing and denied the allegations in court. But another court filing stated that DePerno “admitted that he falsified billing to a client’s account” at least once.

The billing allegations could be a “disqualifying factor” for DePerno in the attorney general’s race, said John Truscott, a Republican public relations professional. 

READ MORE: New Proposed Voting Legislation Would Allow Early In-Person Voting, Ban Guns From Polls

“I think it’s extremely problematic,” Truscott told Bridge Michigan. “As attorney general, you’re the state’s chief law enforcement officer. If you can’t abide by the laws and the rules, how do you have the moral authority to prosecute criminals?”

DePerno is famously known for defending former state Rep. Todd Courser in a defamation lawsuit against The Detroit News after Courser’s sex scandal cover-up attempt in 2015. 

He’s also helped spread lies about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. DePerno unsuccessfully sued Antrim County over a clerical error that happened while officials gathered election results. The error was corrected before a final count was given and results verified, and the lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.

RELATED: Michigan Is Investigating People Who Spread Lies About the 2020 Election. Here’s What That Means.

The state AG plays the role of chief legal advisor to the state government and the state’s chief law enforcement official. If nominated, DePerno would face the current AG Dana Nessel in November. 

Nessel, a Democrat, is the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in Michigan and the first Jew to be elected as the state AG. She founded Fair Michigan in 2016, a nonprofit organization that works to prosecute hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

With Michigan nesting false claims of election fraud, Nessel has worked to hold accountable those who’ve tried to interfere in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. She spent a year investigating 16 Republicans who submitted false certificates alleging to be the state’s presidential electors despite Biden’s victory margin of 154,000 votes.

This year, the Michigan primary, which will determine who among the Republican candidates will run against Nessel, will take place Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 8. For more information on voting in Michigan, visit here

READ MORE: ‘It’s About Controlling Who Votes’: The Michigan GOP’s Plan to Overhaul Voting Laws


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