Briefline

Tina Peters discloses campaign spending on Mar-a-Lago travel, ‘2000 Mules’ tickets

By: - May 23, 2022 4:22 pm
Tina Peters

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters speaks in front of the Mesa County Justice Center in Grand Junction on Jan. 13, 2022. Conservative activist and Peters supporter Sherronna Bishop is at right. (Sharon Sullivan for Colorado Newsline)

A finance report filed last week indicates Colorado secretary of state candidate Tina Peters used campaign money to fund a trip to Florida to attend a screening of a documentary focused on baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

On May 5, Peters attended a screening of “2000 Mules,” a film by conservative media personality Dinesh D’Souza, at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. The film falsely implies that rampant voter fraud compromised the 2020 presidential election, costing Trump a second term. Peters, the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, has built her campaign around such claims of election fraud, which have been repeatedly debunked by expertscourts and election officials from both parties.

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Mar-a-Lago has become a destination for conservative candidates seeking a Trump endorsement, but Peters has not received one.

Her campaign disclosed multiple expenditures apparently related to the trip on a May 16 finance report: about $473 for a Palm Beach hotel down the street from Mar-a-Lago,  about $15 for a Starbucks order with the memo “FL trip,” and about $27 for an Uber ride with the memo “FL travel.” The campaign also listed about $400 for air travel and luggage fees.

Peters, currently the Mesa County clerk and recorder, is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state against Pam Anderson and Mike O’Donnell. Her campaign did not return a request for comment.

Colorado’s campaign and political finance manual states that “money spent on anything for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate is considered an expenditure.” Expenditures typically involve advertising costs, data acquisition, consulting costs or expenses for travel to campaign events around the state or district. Peters did not mention her candidacy when sharing photos of herself from the event on social media.

Additionally, Peters spent $800 for 40 tickets to the movie, which had a limited release in early May and is also available to watch online. Her campaign reported that expenditure on April 28, before the Florida trip.

“When someone contributes to a campaign, they are trusting that candidate to be an honest steward of their money and use it to reach voters. They are not contributing to a candidate’s personal slush fund. I think Clerk Peters is violating the trust of her supporters by using their money to travel to Florida to attend and buy an additional 40 tickets for the premiere of a film based on fringe, radical, conspiracy theories,” Cameron Hill, the associate director of Colorado Common Cause, wrote in an email to Colorado Newsline.

Peters is mostly barred from leaving the state because of her recent grand jury indictment. She was allowed to travel to Florida, however, as reported by 9News.

She was indicted earlier this year on 10 counts, including seven felonies, in relation to a security breach of Mesa County’s election system. She was also recently barred from having a role in overseeing the 2022 primary and general elections.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:00 p.m. on May 24, 2022 to include comments from Colorado Common Cause.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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