120121-news-petersrally08-ml

MCKENZIE LANGE/The Daily Sentinel

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters speaks at the old Mesa County Courthouse on Dec. 1.

Continuing to defend her actions in the face of multiple criminal investigations, a civil lawsuit and an ethics complaint, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters officially announced her plans to run for re-election to that job Thursday.

Peters, who was first elected in 2018, has been the subject of local, state and federal criminal investigations over election security breaches and wire fraud for months, is the target of a campaign finance lawsuit and is facing an ethics investigation into accepting gifts in excess of state limits.

And as of Thursday, a Mesa County grand jury is looking into possible state charges of election tampering and official misconduct involving Peters and several of her supporters.

Peters, however, remained defiant to all of that, saying she won’t give up the fight to prove that there is something amiss with the use of ballot tabulating equipment used in the county and most others in Colorado.

“Following the 2020 and (2021) municipal elections, constituents brought their concerns to me, (and) I’m obligated as your elected official to investigate those concerns,” Peters said at a re-election rally outside the Mesa County Justice Center.

“If we don’t stand up and tell the truth and fight for your vote, I don’t know where we’re going to end up,” she added. “Today we are living in an exciting time. Things are changing, and moving towards freedom. I won’t quit against corruption.”

Peters, 66, won the GOP primary in 2018 over fellow Republican Bobbie Gross. With her official entry into the race, she’ll face Gross again in June. Peters narrowly defeated Gross by about 1,300 votes.

The embattled clerk is facing a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office for failure to report her campaign finance donations and expenses as is required by law since November 2019, when she deactivated her campaign account. According to that lawsuit, Peters clearly has been accepting donations through her campaign website and Facebook page.

As of late Thursday, that account still was inactive.

That lawsuit also alleges that Peters has been accepting donations for a legal defense fund, but not reporting that either.

The second part of that lawsuit is similar to an ongoing investigation by the Colorado Ethics Commission for allegedly accepting gifts far in excess of state limits.

She, along with several others, also is the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible wire fraud related to election machines, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

At her re-election press conference, at which she invited no questions, Peters said — again — that another “report” is to be released soon further showing problems with the state’s elections. She and many of her supporters have promised such a report repeatedly for several months now.

Her first report claims that 29,000 election files were destroyed during a routine upgrade of election equipment software last year, but members of her own Elections Division have said they backed up all election files, adding that nothing has been destroyed to prevent them from re-creating the election if need be.