Tina Peters is Mesa County’s chief elections official
A Republican Colorado elections official who helped spread baseless theories that the 2020 presidential race was stolen from Donald Trump has been stripped of her duties via court order on Wednesday.
US District Court Judge Valerie Robison ruled that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters ran afoul of her duties as the county’s chief election official by letting an unvetted ‘consultant’ make copies of a Dominion Voting Systems machine hard drive and allowed confidential system passwords to leak online.
Peters was also ‘untruthful’ when she brought the ‘consultant’ to a routine software update and presented him as an administrative assistant employed by Mesa County, Robison said.
Copies of that hard drive were presented as ‘evidence’ of voter fraud at a cyber symposium held by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in August.
Peters had allegedly kept a low profile following the symposium, hiding at a safe house owned by Lindell, past reports claim, amid an FBI probe into allegations similar to those that got her stripped of her duties this week.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit against Peters and her deputy, Belinda Kinsley, in August.
‘The Court finds that Peters and Knisley breached their duties by failing to follow the rules and orders of the Secretary and the [Colorado Election Code], neglected their duties by failing to take adequate precautions to protect confidential information, and committed wrongful acts by being untruthful,’ Robison wrote in her decision.
Peters had claimed she hired ‘consultant’ Gerald Wood to make copies of Dominion’s hard drive before and after a software update known as a ‘trusted build’ to ensure files necessary to probe the 2020 election weren’t erased.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell (pictured at a Trump rally in August) used Peters’ hard drive ‘evidence’ when pushing his conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump
But before that, court documents state that Peters and Knisley presented Wood as a Mesa County employee in order for him to gain access to the closely guarded ‘trusted build’ process for updating Dominion’s systems.
A Colorado state official told Peters hat only two additional government employees would be permitted for a trusted build in May at which other state election workers and Dominion employees would also be present.
Days before the update took place Knisley had the cameras in Mesa’s Election Department shut off, Robison claimed.
The judge noted that in addition to Wood taking a ‘forensic’ copy of the hard drive, Peters herself ‘took a video recording and still photographs’ of the process.
Robison also described how confidential information stored on Colorado Senior Voting Systems Specialist Danny Casias’ laptop was spread publicly.
‘At some point, during the four plus hours of the “trusted build” process, video and photos were taken of Casias’ laptop and the passwords contained on his screen,’ she said.
‘Later, the confidential passwords were publicly posted to an online social media site.’
She doesn’t specify which social media site it was.
A subsequent investigation ordered by Griswold after the leak found that someone had tampered with the server computer of Mesa’s vote-tabulation equipment.
Two changes to the system were detected that ‘resulted in enabling of a security vulnerability if someone had physical access to the system,’ Robison stated.
The judge accused Peters and Knisley of being ‘unable or unwilling to appropriately perform the duties’ of overseeing elections for at least the next year.
Colorado’s upcoming November 2021 election will be taken over by former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, as requested by Griswold.
The Democratic state official praised Robison’s decision in a statement released the same day as the ruling.
Colorado’s Democrat Secretary of State Jena Griswold praised the judge’s decision
‘Clerk Peters seriously compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system. The Court’s decision today bars Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and ensures Mesa County residents have the secure and accessible election they deserve,’ Griswold said.
‘As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight needed to ensure the integrity of Colorado’s elections.’
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said voters can be certain the upcoming election will be ‘free and fair’ without Peters’ influence.
‘Under the ruling we pressed for, Mesa County voters can rest assured that the election will be free and fair, and administered in a trustworthy manner,’ Weiser said on Twitter.
The off-year election will see Colorado voters cast ballots in a number of local elections and deciding on public measures. School board elections will be part of next month’s race and will likely be a central focus for parents as tensions rise over mask measures and racial inequality teachings in schools.
Peters staged a ‘press conference’ on Monday – but did not invite any members of the media – where she continued to push her false election fraud claims.
Speaking in front of the Mesa County courthouse Peters still touted the ‘forensic images’ she obtained through legally murky means that she alleged prove Dominion’s machines had been tampered with.
The event reportedly got heated as people who doubted her claims clashed with Peters’ supporters, according to Colorado’s The Daily Sentinel.
In a statement in the Washington Post on Wednesday Peters said she was disappointed with the court’s decision and accused Griswold of a ‘power grab.’
She said the secretary of state was aiming to send a ‘warning to all other potential whistleblowers.’