Ahead of Trump rally, Benson says Michigan is ‘ground zero’ for threats against democracy

By: - March 31, 2022 10:30 am

President Donald Trump rally in Battle Creek, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

The spread of misinformation about the 2020 presidential election isn’t going to quiet down until those who have been spreading “the big lie” face consequences, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday during a press conference.

The big lie is a conspiracy theory pushed by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that falsely claims the 2020 election was rigged against him and there was widespread voter fraud.

Benson, a Democrat, held a press call ahead of Trump’s upcoming Saturday rally in Macomb County for his endorsed secretary of state and attorney general candidates, Kristina Karamo and Matt DePerno, who both push election fraud conspiracies. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson during Primary Election Night press conference on Aug. 4, 2020 in Detroit.

“The threats against our democracy are truly a five-alarm fire and in that fire, Michigan is ground zero,” Benson said. “And it’s a fire that consists of a national coordinated effort … where partisan politicians and others are lying to voters about the 2020 election results and about what’s at stake in order to carry out this national, multifaceted, multi-year, coordinated and sophisticated effort to potentially overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election or other elections.”

President Joe Biden beat Trump by 154,000 votes in Michigan, which has been confirmed by over 250 state and local election audits.

Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, a liberal advocacy group, and Let America Vote Fund, joined Benson Wednesday to discuss the “Democracy Defenders” program, which will spend $7 million in key attorney general and secretary of state races across the country, including in Michigan.

Benson will face one of three likely GOP opponents. Karamo, a teacher from Oak Park who has called for a so-called “forensic audit” and spoken at a QAnon conference. State Rep. Beau LaFace (R-Iron Mountain) and Cindy Berry, Chesterfield Township clerk, are also running for the Republican nomination for secretary of state which will be determined at a Michigan GOP convention on April 23.

“For the first time, we now have candidates running for secretary of state and attorney general who actually deny the 2020 election results, who are trafficking in the big lie and perpetuating conspiracy theories that threaten and undermine our democracy. This is dangerous, they could have disastrous consequences in Michigan and states around the country,” said Muller. 

DePerno is battling against former state House Speaker Tom Leonard and state Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.) for the GOP attorney general nomination at the convention next month. The winner will face off against Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in November. 

DePerno has said that if he is elected, he would “lock up” Nessel for referring the fraudulent Michigan Trump electors to the Department of Justice for investigation, echoing a common threat Trump has made against Democrats.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.