Michigan county board votes to strip funding from sheriff who led petty 2020 investigation

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Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is under investigation for allegedly tampering with voting machines.

Dar Leaf, the sheriff of Barry County in Michigan, lost funding for his department when the county's Board of Commissioners, consisting entirely of Republicans, voted to revoke the allocation it had made for an additional detective for Sheriff Dar Leaf's department.

The website Bridge Michigan reported on Oct. 28 that the board had allocated funds last year to hire a third detective for the department to investigate violent crimes.

Leaf told the board in October that just one detective was assigned to violent crimes, while the other detective was focusing solely on investigating the 2020 election and the third detective position is vacant. The sheriff defended this personnel decision by telling the board that "some things will be coming down the pipe," according to the website.

Leaf is a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group of law enforcement officers who promote the idea that county sheriffs represent the ultimate legal authority in their jurisdictions, above state and federal authorities, based on the oath they take to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Republican Barry County prosecuting attorney Julie Nakfoor Pratt told the county board on Oct. 25 that her department needed detectives from the sheriff's office to investigate violent crimes, not chase down phantom incidents of election fraud:

There is no evidence of wide voter fraud in this county. There just isn't that I can see. It has been a year and a half. … If you've got something, bring it on; if you don't, let's move on. … We got stuff to do that's really important. We got victims suffering, houses broken into. We even have a bank robbery that we're trying to figure out. We have children being sexually assaulted. We have adults being sexually assaulted. We have cars being stolen. We have mentally ill people that need our help.

Leaf is under investigation for an alleged plan to gain access to and tamper with voter tabulation machines in multiple Michigan townships. The investigation by the state attorney general and the state police involves several other prominent Michigan Republicans, including state Rep. Daire Rendon; Republican attorney general nominee Matt DePerno; and attorney Stephanie Lambert, who was a member of former President Donald Trump's legal team.

The Michigan Republicans under investigation have all amplified Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Pratt said she had a "heated" meeting about election fraud with Leaf and Lambert in June 2021. A year later they came to her for a warrant to inspect voter tabulation machines. She and one of her colleagues found no probable cause, so they denied the request.

Betsy Colgen, a poll worker for the last four years, told the board that claims of widespread election fraud were unfounded, and invited anyone with doubts to work an election to understand the process.

"It's impossible to change votes, mess with the machine. There are so many checks and balances, it's just unbelievable, in every part of the process," Colgen said.

At the board meeting, Leaf claimed without evidence that voting machines can be programmed to flip votes from one candidate to another.

"The machines are computerized, folks," Leaf said.

He also suggested that his probe may extend far beyond Barry County, claiming he was in touch with "whistleblowers" from Venezuela — a comment that drew laughter from the room.

Bridge Michigan reported that Barry County commissioner Ben Geiger was ready to move on from Sheriff Leaf's investigations: "We're happy to hear that he found no wrongdoing in Barry County elections, as we suspected would be the case. We're happy that the prosecutor found nothing wrong with Barry County elections. So we're hoping this gets wrapped up real quick."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.