Mich. House Dems call for censure of GOP lawmaker accused in tabulator 'conspiracy'

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

House Democrats are calling for the censure of Republican state Rep. Daire Rendon for what they say is a “coercive abuse of office in service of a crime.”

The resolution, released Friday, follows Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office petitioning for a special prosecutor to consider charges against the Lake City lawmaker and eight others involved in an alleged "conspiracy" to illegally obtain election equipment during the 2020 presidential election.

Others involved in the alleged conspiracy include Republican attorney general candidate Matt DePerno and Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf. 

MI Rep. Daire Rendon, R, Dist-103, Wednesday afternoon, June 8, 2022.

Democrats say they plan to formally introduce the resolution next week.

“Representative Rendon abused her office, her position of power, and misrepresented the House of Representatives while badgering local election officials to comply with a phony investigation spurred by Donald Trump’s Big Lie conspiracies,” House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, said in a statement.

“It’s beyond the pale, it’s criminal, and it is disgracefully below the standard of public service the people of Michigan should expect from their representatives. This offends the very founding ideal we share as Americans — this was an assault on our democracy. She played a crucial role in a coordinated conspiracy to gain illegal access to ballot tabulators and other election equipment to undermine our free and fair elections.”

Rendon could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

According to a letter last Friday by Christina Grossi, the chief deputy attorney general to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the group's efforts involved convincing local clerks to hand over tabulators and taking the tabulators to hotels or rental properties in Oakland County where they broke into the machines, printed "fake ballots" and performed "tests" on the equipment. 

Because DePerno is expected to face off against Nessel in the November election, the her office has asked the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council to appoint a special prosecutor.

The resolution claims that Rendon “repeatedly asked local officials to give voting tabulators to unauthorized individuals, and those officials repeatedly complied with her requests. In doing so, Representative Rendon aided those unauthorized individuals in obtaining undue possession of a voting machine, in violation of Michigan law.”

In one instance, Rendon, a third-term lawmaker, is accused of telling the Roscommon County Clerk that "representatives" needed her voting machine because they were investigating election fraud.

“A censure is absolutely appropriate for a member of the House of Representatives who betrays their oath of office and misrepresents our chamber in the service of a crime, especially when that crime is an attack on our elections and democracy,” said State Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, who will introduce the resolution.

“Representative Rendon betrayed her oath of office, abandoned her duty to uphold the constitution, broke Michigan Election Law, and violated the public trust in this desperate and corrupt scheme to keep the former president in power against the will of the people. Representative Rendon allegedly told at least one county clerk ‘representatives’ were performing an investigation in order to get her hands on this machinery, and that’s a lie against this legislature that can’t be allowed to stand.”

In May, Rendon declined to say if she had been interviewed by the Michigan State Police regarding a tabulator probe.

"I’m aware that something’s going on, but I don’t know what it is," said Rendon, referring to reports on the Roscommon County incident.

The Michigan Democratic Party expressed its support Friday for the effort to censure Rendon and asked state House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, to take action and remove her from leadership roles.

“At what point is Republican Speaker Jason Wentworth going to do what’s right for the people of this state instead of serving the dangerous interests of his Republican colleagues?" said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. "His failure to act shows the continued corruption of the Michigan GOP.” 

Barnes said Wentworth's failing to remove Rendon from her positions in the chamber "signals his belief that Republicans are above the law." 

In a statement Friday, a representative for Wentworth said: "As he has done with other situations, the speaker will let the legal process play out and review any new developments as the information comes out."

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN