Trump to host Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for Michigan AG candidate DePerno, campaign says

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Former President Donald Trump has agreed to host and participate in a fundraiser for Michigan attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno, his campaign said Wednesday.

The scheduled event would be another sign of Trump's direct involvement in down-ballot races in the battleground state. It's expected to take place on March 8, the month before state GOP convention delegates meet to endorse a nominee to challenge Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan's top law enforcement official.

DePerno's campaign this week disclosed a December expenditure of $17,213 to Mar-a-Lago for "catering" and "rental." The spending was for the event in March, the candidate's campaign said.

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort on Jan. 20, 2021. The former president is set to host a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in March for Republican Michigan attorney general hopeful Matthew DePerno, the campaign said Wednesday.

“It’s clear that President Trump is fully invested in Matt’s campaign," DePerno's spokesman Tyson Shepard said. "On top of publicly supporting Matt multiple times, the president has agreed to host and attend a private fundraiser for us at Mar-a-Lago."

Trump is going to do everything he can to help DePerno win in both April and November, Shepard said.

Trump's private residence is at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. The estate's website describes it as "the world’s most celebrated private club, combining the best of twentieth century and historical design with an exceptional eye for detail, perfection and the highest standards of service."

For $25,000 in contributions, a person or a couple can get a photo with Trump and DePerno at the fundraiser and participate in a "private briefing," according to an invitation viewed by The Detroit News.

In Michigan, the maximum contribution an individual can give a statewide candidate is $7,150. However, DePerno's invitation suggests the $25,000 can also be raised by the donor from others.

For $10,000 in contributions, a donor can get a photo with DePerno and Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, according to the invitation. For $2,500, a donor can attend an "evening reception with remarks by President Trump," the invitation said.

The former president endorsed DePerno, an attorney from Kalamazoo, to be Michigan's next attorney general in September. In his endorsement announcement, Trump emphasized DePerno's work "on the front lines" in litigation challenging how the 2020 election was administered.

The lawyer has focused heavily on northern Michigan's Antrim County, where mistakes led to initial and unofficial results incorrectly showing Democrat Joe Biden ahead in the conservative county.

Statewide, Trump lost the election to Biden by 154,000 or 3 percentage points. A Republican-led Senate committee that reviewed Michigan's 2020 election for potential fraud labeled DePerno's claims "demonstrably false and based on misleading information and illogical conclusions" in a June report.

DePerno is one of three Republicans seeking the party's nomination for attorney general. The other two are former Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard of DeWitt and state Rep. Ryan Berman of Commerce Township.

Leonard, who unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2018 against Nessel, has raised the most money of the Republican candidates at $681,932. He's also garnered the endorsement of many GOP elected officials in Michigan.

DePerno has reported raising $191,731.

The Michigan Republican Party will hold an endorsement convention to officially support nominees for attorney general and secretary of state on April 23.

The attorney general race is expected to be close in November. Leonard lost to Nessel by less than 3 percentage points in 2018.