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Election hearing witness Mellissa Carone forms committee for state House run

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Mellissa Carone, one of the most well-known critics of Michigan's 2020 election, has formed a campaign committee to run next year for the state House of Representatives.

Carone, a 33-year-old Republican, is planning to run for the 46th District seat in Oakland County, which is held by Rep. John Reilly, R-Oakland Township, according to a filing with the Michigan Secretary of State's office.

Reilly can't run for reelection because of term limits. However, the district could look different in 2022 because an independent commission will redraw legislative boundaries before the next election based on new U.S. Census Bureau data.

Mellissa Carone, who worked at the TCF Center in Detroit on Election Night, speaks to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

For the Nov. 3 election, Carone was a contractor for Dominion Voting Systems at the TCF Center, where Detroit's absentee ballots were counted. Afterward, Carone levied a series of dubious claims about wrongdoing at TCF Center and was eventually parodied on "Saturday Night Live."

"I am running on election integrity," Carone said in a Tuesday interview.

She also criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the state's three top Democrats. Michigan needs "conservative values" back, Carone said.

Her committee reported a Lake Orion address on its filing, which is dated last Wednesday. Carone, who previously lived in Wayne County, said she recently moved to Oakland County.

She is currently not registered to vote in the county, Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said Tuesday.

Carone appeared with former President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani at a state House Oversight hearing on Dec. 2. During the meeting, she said the turnout was above 120% in Detroit, which it wasn't, and claimed there was a warehouse in the city where some type of activity related to voter fraud was taking place.

Rudy Giuliani testifies at Michigan legislative hearing on alleged election fraud in Lansing on December 2.

Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland, pressed Carone about why there weren't major differences between poll book totals, which track voters, and ballot count totals if there were thousands of ballots counted multiple times, as she claimed.

"What did you guys do, take it and do something crazy to it?” Carone then asked Johnson, referring to the Detroit poll books.

Carone has been critical of Dominion Voting Systems. The company, whose equipment is used in a majority of Michigan counties, has formally asked her to "cease and desist making defamatory claims."

"Without a shred of corroborating evidence, you have claimed that you witnessed several different versions of voter fraud — ranging from one story involving a van, to other accusations that votes were counted multiple times," the attorneys for Dominion wrote to Carone in December. "You published these statements even though you knew all along that your attacks on Dominion have no basis in reality."

Absentee ballots are counted at the TCF Center in Detroit on Nov. 3, 2020.

Carone's claims about Dominion and the TCF Center gained attention among conservative media outlets, who described her as an insider, as Trump supporters pushed to discredit President Joe Biden's victory.

But Dominion said Carone was "hired through a staffing agency for one day to clean glass on machines and complete other menial tasks."

A Twitter page touting Carone's campaign debuted Tuesday. It described her as a "candidate for state representative, bringing conservative values back to Michigan."

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, a Democrat, criticized Carone. She also noted that a fundraising page set up by the new candidate didn't include a "paid for by" disclaimer.

In 2019, Southgate investigators charged Carone — then using her married name of Mellissa Wright — with one count of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of obscenity in the first degree. 

The two misdemeanor charges were later dropped in a deal with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in which Carone pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct, said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the office.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.