Advance Notice: Briefs

Report: West Michigan sheriff under investigation for 2020 election probe

By: - June 6, 2022 9:02 am

Pro-Trump protesters at TCF Center in Detroit | Ken Coleman photo

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office and Michigan State Police (MSP) are investigating a West Michigan county sheriff for his actions surrounding a probe of the 2020 presidential election that former President Donald Trump lost.

The Detroit News reported the revelation concerning Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf was revealed in a lawsuit filed by Leaf against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, MSP and individual troopers. 

Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf | Barry County photo

Both the attorney general and MSP declined comment on Monday.

In the filing, which was reported by the right-wing website, a lawyer for Leaf is quoted as saying that beginning in March investigators began contacting Barry County sheriff’s deputies “in order to intimidate them, interview them, confiscate protected materials and information in their possession related to the ongoing election investigation being conducted by plaintiff sheriff.”

The lawsuit also reportedly requests that authorities be prevented from “further usurping and interfering with the performance” of Leaf’s duties and his investigations and “from seizing and keeping property and information and data created during, related to, or subject of said investigations.”

An investigation by state police and the AG’s office began earlier this year when Benson requested it after her office received reports that an unnamed third party was able to access vote tabulator components and technology in Roscommon County.

The investigation expanded into Barry County when a raid was carried out on April 29 at the Irving Township hall where investigators seized a voting machine tabulator.

Bridge previously reported that Leaf had proposed that he and other so-called “constitutional sheriffs” seize Dominion voting machines following the November 2020 election and used a private investigator to question.

Constitutional sheriffs contend that elected county sheriffs are the supreme legal authority with the power to disregard laws they regard as unconstitutional. The doctrine is espoused by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which named Leaf as its sheriff of the year in 2016.

Leaf also attended right-wing rallies protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 health measures in 2020.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.