Tina Peters is Mesa County’s Chief Election Officer
A Republican election official in Colorado who helped spread baseless theories that the 2020 presidential race was stolen from Donald Trump was relieved of her duties by court order on Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Robison ruled that Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters breached her duties as county election chief by allowing an unsupervised “advisor” to make copies of the hard drive of a Dominion Voting Systems machine and allowing confidential system passwords to leak online.
Peters was also “false” when she brought the “consultant” to a routine software update and introduced him as a Mesa County administrative assistant, Robison said.
Copies of that hard drive were presented as “proof” of voter fraud at a cyber symposium held in August by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
Peters allegedly kept a low profile after the symposium, hiding in a Lindell hiding place, previous reports say, amid an FBI investigation into allegations similar to those that stripped her of her duties this week.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit in August against Peters and her deputy, Belinda Kinsley.
“The court finds that Peters and Knisley have violated their duties by the rules and orders of the secretary and the [Colorado Election Code], neglected their duties by taking insufficient precautions to protect confidential information, and committed wrongful acts by being untruthful,” Robison wrote in her decision.
Peters had alleged that 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 that files needed to run the election of 2020 were not cleared.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell (pictured at a Trump rally in August) used Peters’ hard drive “evidence” in 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 to give him access to Dominion’s closely guarded “trusted build” process for updating Dominion’s systems.
A Colorado state official told Peters that only two additional government employees would be allowed for a trusted construction in May, which would also include other state election workers and Dominion employees.
Days before the update, Knisley had turned off the cameras in Mesa’s election department, Robison claimed.
The judge noted that in addition to Wood taking a “forensic” copy of the hard drive, Peters himself “videotaped and photographed” the trial.
Robison also described how confidential information stored on Colorado Senior Voting Systems Specialist Danny Casias’ laptop was publicly distributed.
“At one point, during the more than four hours of the ‘trusted build’ process, there were videos and photos taken of Casias’ laptop and the passwords on his screen,” she said.
“Later, the confidential passwords were publicly posted on an online social media site.”
She would not say which social media site it is.
A subsequent investigation commissioned by Griswold after the leak revealed that someone had tampered with the server computer of Mesa’s voting tables equipment.
Two changes to the system were detected that “resulted in a security vulnerability if anyone had physical access to the system,” Robison said.
The judge accused Peters and Knisley of being “unable or unwilling to perform duties properly” to oversee the election for at least the following year.
Colorado’s upcoming election in November 2021 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 Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold praised the judge’s decision
Clerk Peters has seriously compromised the security of the Mesa County voting system. Today’s Court decision prevents Peters from further threatening the integrity of Mesa’s elections and ensures that Mesa County residents receive the safe and accessible elections they deserve,” Griswold said.
“As Secretary of State, I will continue to provide the support and oversight necessary to ensure the integrity of the Colorado election.”
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said voters can rest assured that the upcoming election will be “free and fair” without Peters’ influence.
“Under the ruling we urged, voters in Mesa County can rest assured that the election will be free, fair and conducted reliably,” Weiser said on Twitter.
In the out-of-year elections, Colorado voters will vote in a number of local elections and decide on public action. School board elections will be part of next month’s race and are likely to be a central focus for parents as tensions mount over masking measures and racial inequality in schools.
Peters held a “press conference” on Monday – but did not invite members of the media – where she continued to push her false claims of voter fraud.
Speaking to the Mesa County courthouse, Peters continued to praise the “forensic images” she obtained through legally shady means, which she claimed proved Dominion’s machines had been tampered with.
The event reportedly heated up when 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, accusing Griswold of a “power grab.”
She said the secretary of state planned to send a “warning to all other potential whistleblowers.”