Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters speaks in front of the Mesa County Justice Center in Grand Junction on Jan. 13, 2022. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)
It’s official. Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who is under criminal investigation for alleged breaches of election security protocols, is running for reelection — although she’ll first have to beat Republican challenger Bobbie Gross in the June primary election.
Peters formally made the announcement Thursday in Grand Junction on the steps of the Mesa County Justice Center, where she also told supporters that she is declining Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s offer to allow the clerk to resume her election duties. Peters would have been required to sign a document saying she would comply with election security protocols that would also place limits on the clerk.
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“Have you seen the latest?” Peters asked the approximately 20 people gathered outside the justice center. “Jena Griswold, who was elected with George Soros’ money, has offered to let me return to my job if I apologize, make a public statement that we don’t need transparency, and that there was no voter fraud – then I can have my office back.”
In October, a Mesa County district court judge ruled in favor of removing Peters as the county’s designated election official for the November 2021 election. The judge granted the secretary of state’s request that Wayne Williams be appointed as the DEO, and that Sheila Reiner be appointed as the election supervisor for Mesa County. Both are Republicans, like Peters.
“Clerk Peters seriously compromised the security of Mesa County’s voting system,” said Griswold in October. “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.”
The Mesa County grand jury will investigate allegations related to the vulnerabilities that Peters helped create in the county’s election system, local and state officials announced Thursday.
The secretary of state’s order would have required Peters to “repudiate, retreat and disavow” statements she made related to her “willingness to compromise Mesa County’s voting system equipment.”
Additionally, the order would have required Peters or any deputy clerk to get approval for election-related decisions from the secretary of state’s office and allow for video surveillance of voting equipment at all times. Peters would be barred from being near voting equipment without supervision. She also would not be allowed to use the state’s voter registration system until she completed training. There were other restrictions, as well.
The Mesa County commissioners also wanted Peters to sign a separate attestation about complying with election protocols.
Peters said she would “never” agree to what she called a “gag order” from the secretary of state.
“I’ve never done anything wrong — I’m going to show that,” she said.
“I’m 66, and single,” Peters said. “I could sign a gag order and go home. However, I listen to you. You’re my boss who elected me. Do you want me to stay and fight?”
‘They drank the Kool-Aid’
Several Peters supporters declined to give their names but commented on why they support the embattled clerk.
A woman named Sheila, who would give only her first name, said she watched a movie titled “Kill Chain” that proves Peters is telling the truth regarding election fraud.
“When the secretary of state asked the clerk to recant the truth and follow her around — would you want that? That’s where we’re heading for if we do not heed what Tina says,” the woman said. “We’re finding our friends are not our friends — they drank the Kool-Aid.”
Sherronna Bishop, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s former campaign manager and self-proclaimed “America’s Mom,” introduced Peters by declaring, “I’m a vocal, committed, supporter of Tina Peters. Many people from around the country are in debt to her today. Thank you for standing with us no matter what you hear — no matter that Mesa County commissioners are trying to gaslight you all — you all hold the line.”
Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis said he didn’t expect Peters would accept the terms of the secretary of state’s order. He said he doesn’t blame Peters, as he believes the order was “incredibly restrictive.”
He took issue with Bishop’s “gaslighting” comment, however.
“There have been no distortions of reality propagated by the commissioners. The irony of Sherronna using the term ‘gaslighting’ is thick,” Davis said. “We’ve made every decision based on facts and core principles. We have welcomed contrary views and begged for alleged evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. To date, we have received no evidence. If Tina, Sherronna, or anyone else has evidence, we would love to see it.”
Peters reiterated that in 2020, constituents brought their concerns to her regarding perceived election fraud. She mentioned a soon-to-be published third “forensics report” that has uncovered problems with the election that an initial first report failed to identify.
“It shows even more why not to trust these (Dominion) election machines,” she said.
Peters became emotional at times — once when talking about her deceased Navy Seal son, and again when mentioning how Mesa County and her friends have been affected by the ongoing elections scandal.
“My chief deputy is accused of a felony for coming to work,” she said. “I was barred from doing my work. Another employee was fired without cause. My house was raided Dec. 16 by Joe Biden’s FBI. They made me sit on a chair while they went through my home.”
Peters said that she is an “impartial” person and that people have asked her to run for secretary of state.
“Will you stay in the fight with me?” she asked. “Together we must form a united front. We live in exciting times, things are changing, we’re moving toward freedom.”
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