Sandra Brown, one of two election managers in Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ office, has been fired.

While the reasons for why have not fully been disclosed because it is an internal personnel matter restricted under open records laws, Brown has been on paid administrative leave for weeks now, in part, because she has been implicated in several criminal investigations into allegations that Peters and others were involved in violating state election security protocols.

That occurred starting in May when Brown, whose job title was elections manager-back office, allegedly was involved in efforts by Peters and others to expose as-yet unproven allegations of voter fraud.

As a result, Peters has been temporarily removed as the county’s designated election official, which gave the person who was appointed to that role, former Secretary of State Wayne Williams, the authority to decide personnel matters in the clerk’s Election Division, county officials say.

Both Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, who also is on paid administrative leave, have been temporarily barred by District Judge Valerie Robison from having any contact with elections workers.

Still, Peters is not happy that county officials have decided to terminate one of her employees, saying only she has that authority.

“This is very simple. I was elected by the people of Mesa County to ensure integrity of our elections,” Peters said in a press release.

“A large portion of my constituents believe the election needs to be investigated. Because I have been willing to do so, the organized left, Lincoln Project Republicans and the (George) Soros-funded Secretary of State have retaliated against me, and anyone else with the courage to investigate the election results,” she added. “I will not stand idly by while good, professional county employees are attacked simply for doing their jobs and asking questions.”

Soros, a New York City-based billionaire and philanthropist who often donates to left-leaning candidates and causes nationwide, has never made any contributions to Griswold’s campaign for secretary of state, according to campaign finance records.

Earlier this month, County Attorney Todd Starr issued a letter to Peters denying her request to provide a $5,000 bonus to Knisley and one other employee, saying it could appear to be a bribe under Colorado law since all of her workers could be called as witnesses in the local, state and federal criminal investigations into her actions.

He issued a second letter to Peters warning the clerk against her attempts to “take adverse employment actions” against other employees in her office. Although it is not known if her director of elections, Brandi Bantz, was one of them, Peters has repeatedly criticized her since the clerk started espousing voter-fraud conspiracy theories in August.

The top of the release says Peters comments are from the Tina Peters Legal Defense Fund, a fund that Peters has been soliciting donations to help her battle legal issues she may face, and not for defending others in her office.

The Secretary of State’s Office, to which Peters also blames for the Brown firing, filed a lawsuit against her last week over Peters’ failure to report donations and expenses from that defense fund, along with her re-election campaign. Her campaign finance account with the state has been inactive since January 2019, but she has continued to solicit for donations for the past three years.

Rory McShane, the spokesman for Peters’ defense fund, said Bantz sent Brown a letter late Friday informing her that she was being terminated.

He said that letter, a copy of which was not made available, cited Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s banning her from participating in the fall election. Sources within the county, however, say Brown was placed on paid administrative leave by county officials, and not Griswold, who has no authority to hire or fire county workers.

McShane also said that Denver attorney Mike Melito, who is “coordinating” Brown’s defense, “promised” to file a lawsuit against the county and Griswold challenging the firing, which he said violated Brown’s rights.

“Ms. Brown’s civil rights have clearly been violated in this blatant retaliatory measure against Ms. Brown for working with Clerk Peters to investigate the validity of the county elections,” McShane wrote in the press release.

McShane is a longtime political consultant who was political director for former Secretary of State Scott Gessler during his bid for the GOP nomination for governor in 2014. Gessler has been Peters’ attorney in a lawsuit filed by Griswold’s office that temporarily removed her as the county’s elections chief.

In Peters’ appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court to reverse Robison’s decision to temporarily remove Peters as elections chief, Gessler wrote in his opening brief that the county also was trying to hire permanent employees in the elections division, saying that authority rests with Peters.

The high court, however, rejected Gessler’s appeal.

Peters’ office, which has been plagued with a high turnover rate since she took office in 2018, has been without a voter service and polling center coordinator since April. That position has not yet been filled. It is one of four openings in the clerk’s 35-person office, including one of three new positions in the Division of Motor Vehicles that the Mesa County Board of Commissioners approved in July.