The stomach-churning scene that unfolded in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday boldly illustrates the power of reckless rhetoric — something with which Mesa County’s clerk and recorder is familiar.
Tina Peters recently tweeted unfounded conspiracy theories that undermine election integrity — and used her elected position as a badge of expertise.
In responding to a series of tweets from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., denouncing his Senate colleagues for their planned attempts to challenge the Electoral College certification on Wednesday, Peters falsely implied that she’s hip to vulnerabilities in the system.
“Shame on you! As one that administers elections in my county, you apparently have no idea how it is possible to 1) tabulate more than once ballots favoring a candidate 2) change algorithm in a voting machine (see Eric Coomer from Dominion’s Facebook ranks) UR Dirty or ignorant,” Peters tweeted from her private Twitter account, @Bhealthynow, on Sunday.
There are so many troubling aspects of Peters’ behavior that it’s hard to know where to begin. First, Colorado’s voting system is about as bullet-proof as they come. Peters’ own elections managers have repeatedly said that Colorado’s election system is the best in the nation, if not the world. After the election, former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said there have been zero problems with Dominion voting equipment.
But dabbling in conspiracy theories is just the tip of the iceberg. The most pathetic aspect of Peters’ service is how tone-deaf she is, as illustrated by this short list of reasons she’s unfit to hold office.
1. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” Maybe Peters has forgotten that she single-handedly disenfranchised 574 Mesa County voters, but we haven’t. She’s the last person who needs to be chiming in on any aspect of election integrity. A petition to recall her fell short of the required signatures, but it should have served as wake-up call to exercise some self-restraint.
2. She’s injected partisanship into a nonpartisan function of county government.
Peters is a Trump loyalist who doesn’t seem to understand that part of her job is to inspire trust in our elections. Promoting a damaging false narrative that the president’s allegations of widespread voting irregularities might have some legitimacy leaves her neutrality as the chief election official in question.
Her job is not just to ensure integrity in elections but to ensure the public’s trust in the integrity of elections. She’s failed that test twice — by tweeting conspiracy nonsense and being so partisan. Peters’ behavior is the best argument around for clerks to be hired by county commissioners rather than elected.
3. She’s created a liability for Mesa County voters.
Peters’ tweet leaves her liable to a lawsuit for defamation from Eric Coomer and Dominion Voting Systems, whose CEO John Poulos recently told Axios that the company is aggressively pursuing legal action against anyone who spread lies about the machines.
“I also want to be clear that we’re looking at everybody, that not just every actor that has made these types of false allegations about us and also the news media outlets that have allowed these allegations to be amplified unfettered and unchecked,” Poulos said.
Coomer, a Denver-based Dominion executive, wrote a guest commentary in The Denver Post on Dec. 8 disavowing claims that he influenced the election. “... I do not have the capability to do such a thing,” he wrote. “I have not written a single line of code in the Dominion Voting System product.”
Coomer has since filed a defamation lawsuit against the Trump campaign, two of its attorneys, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, conservative news outlets Newsmax and One American News Network, Michelle Malkin and Joe Oltmann, a Colorado blogger who made the initial false claims about Coomer and Dominion.
If Peters is sued, will Mesa County taxpayers end up on the hook for her legal fees?
4. She reflects poorly on Mesa County.
Attorney General Phil Weiser expressed dismay that an elected official, particularly one charged with operating a county’s election, would challenge the state’s election system without evidence that anything is wrong, adding that no such evidence exists.
“The efforts to raise questions without evidence is irresponsible, and it’s harmful to the integrity of our democratic republic,” he said. “What do we do when individuals act irresponsibly and in derogation of their duty to the rule of law? We have elections for a reason, and what we need is leaders to be held accountable when they act in ways that are unprincipled, that are irresponsible and dangerous.”
We’ll do our darndest to make sure that Mesa County voters are reminded of her actions should she seek another run as clerk and recorder. We called before for her to resign and she’s shown yet again that she is unfit to hold the office.