Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters made a surprise appearance at Mike Lindell’s symposium Tuesday, an event that purports to be looking into allegation that the 2020 president election was rigged. She said state officials were “raiding” her office while she was in flight to the South Dakota event.
Peters, who faces possible criminal charges for security breaches, told the symposium audience that whoever entered her office in Grand Junction Tuesday could have accessed whatever they wanted, and implied that they were planting false evidence.
Peters was the featured speaker at Lindell’s symposium, an event that the My Pillow company and fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump promised would provide a smoking gun to prove that the election was rigged, regardless of a massive amount of evidence to the contrary.
“When I got on a plane to come see you folks and to talk to you out there, guess what they did,” Peters said at the symposium, which is being held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“They provided a search warrant and raided my office,” she added. “We don’t know what they were doing in there because for several hours they wouldn’t even let my chief deputy, who is the acting clerk for Mesa County when I’m absent, they wouldn’t let her observe what the Secretary of State and Dominion were doing in my office.”
Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Peters has so far ignored her demands to supply detailed information about a possible breach in election security, saying she had up to five inspectors in Peters’ office Tuesday. Griswold said that the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office was conducting its own investigation into possible criminal behavior. That likely would include Peters and an unknown employee that she claimed was working for her who may have illegally released passwords to election equipment.
No one from Dominion Voting Systems, which is at the center of unproven allegations of voter fraud, were known to be present during Tuesday’s investigation of Peters’ office.
Griswold said the investigation that she launched on Monday looking into an elections security breach in Peters’ office is not questioning the integrity of any election overseen by Clerk Tina Peters, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Tuesday.
A day after Griswold launched her deep investigation into how secure passwords from her office surfaced online onto social media accounts from conspiracy theorists, Griswold’s office made clear that no election results are part of that investigation.
The state office, along with Peters’ office, have long maintained that Colorado’s election process is safe, secure and accurate.
Still, that hasn’t stopped some believers from repeating false allegations that the November 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, some of whom have pointed the finger at Dominion Voting System machines that have long been in use in Colorado, including in Mesa County.
Those allegations, however, don’t repeat similar claims for candidates who won their races in the same elections.
The Colorado-based U.S. Election Integrity Plan, a group that is trying to prove voter fraud in last year’s elections, released a statement Monday saying that it was Griswold, and not Peters, who is behind any public release of passwords into Dominion machines.
“Griswold has already proven her untrustworthiness as a public elections official with her illegal emergency rules declaration heard last week in a public hearing,” the group, which doesn’t identify any of its members by name, said in a press release Tuesday.
“Given Griswold’s tainted track record in office, her overreach in Mesa County raises serious ethical and legal questions,” the statement reads. “It appears Griswold’s actions in Mesa County could be a retaliation for citizens calling out Griswold’s unethical and illegal behavior.”
Last week, Griswold’s office held an online public hearing on various proposed rule changes, one of which is to make permanent a temporary rule banning any Arizona-style election audits that are performed by third parties, particularly those that have no experience auditing elections. Other rule changes stem from new laws approved by the Colorado Legislature.
Despite the group’s claim that Griswold cut short public testimony, that virtual public hearing heard hundreds of comments for more than five hours, two hours longer than the hearing was scheduled to last.
Deputy Secretary of State Christopher Beall, who convened that Aug. 3 hearing, said during that hearing that he made the decision to extend the hearing to accommodate more commenters, and also to extended the time the office would accept written public comments on the proposed changes, which ended on Tuesday.
To date, the office has received 745 public comments about the rule changes, most of which opposed the third-party audit ban.
When Griswold instituted that temporary ban on June 17, she said the state already has automatic risk-limiting audits that are performed after every election. The state also has rules that allow for ballot recounts after elections.
The group’s website, useip.org/colorado/, along with its statement on Griswold’s investigation, makes several unsubstantiated references to Dominion Voting Systems, and repeats unfounded claims that the company was involved in any “steal” of last year’s elections.
Dominion, which is based in Denver, has filed numerous lawsuits against attorneys and some conservative media outlets nationwide for making such claims, something some Mesa County officials fear could happen here since Peters tweeted earlier this year questioning company executives with claims that their software was vulnerable.
Later today, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a behind-closed-doors meeting to receive “legal counsel regarding the elections office.”
If Peters doesn’t fully comply with Griswold’s order by Thursday, which includes showing evidence of who could have been involved in the security breach, the county’s election equipment could be decertified, and Peters’ office could be required to return thousands of dollars in federal COVID-19 funds.
Peters is scheduled to remain at Lindell’s conference through Thursday, where she is expected to talk more about Dominion voting machines.
The county or some of its employees, including Peters, could face civil or criminal lawsuits. As a result, the investigation has drawn statewide and national attention.
Denver television anchor Kyle Clark for 9News tweeted Tuesday that a spokesperson for Peters told him she had consulted with Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein about the investigation, but Rubinstein later tweeted that wasn’t true.
Clark tweeted that Rubinstein, who did consult with county commissioners on this matter on Monday, has opened a criminal investigation into the matter, and that search warrants may be issued on county property. By law, either a local district attorney or the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has the authority to launch such an investigation.
The investigation centers around an alleged employee of Peters, but someone who doesn’t appear on the county’s official employee rolls.
In an email to members of the media on Monday, Peters said confidence in elections is paramount, but some voters have questioned the integrity of how election are conducted.
“The citizens of Mesa County have been critical of election integrity,” Peters wrote. “They have brought me their concerns and I have told them I will do everything in my power to protect their vote.”
A search of county expense reports for the months of April, May and June, when the person allegedly worked for Peters, show no record of that person being paid either as a full-time county worker, or as a contract employee or consultant.