On Wednesday, embattled Mesa County Colorado elections clerk Tina Peters pleaded not guilty to charges of election tampering and official misconduct. The charges stem from Peters’ and others’ breach of security protocols, allowing a third-party person without even a smidge of background vetting to fiddle with the election equipment in her county in May 2021. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold promptly launched an investigation of this “serious breach,” leading to replacement of no fewer than “41 pieces of election equipment” that had been compromised by Peters and her conspirators.
Peters is facing 10 counts of violating election laws in service of her MAGA-inspired Big Lie theories that the election was stolen from Donald Trump in 2020. Those counts include “three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, one count of identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty and failing to comply with the secretary of state.” Her trial is scheduled for March 2023.
There’s good news and bad news for Peters: The good news is that having been recently trounced in the Republican primary for secretary of state,* Peters has all the free time in the world to go to trial. The bad news, however ...
*Peters claims she didn’t really lose the primary—it was stolen from her. As of this story, Peters has yet to provide a single shred of evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. She has also not provided a single shred of evidence backing up her claim that her Republican primary was stolen.
On Aug. 25, about one fortnight before Peters entered her not guilty plea, Belinda Knisley pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of “trespassing, first-degree official misconduct and violation of duty.” Knisley was the Mesa County deputy under Peters and her plea was a part of a deal in which she agreed to cooperate with investigators and testify against her former boss in court. The Colorado Sun reports that Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein (a Republican) told the court that Knisley had spoken with his office for “seven hours,” giving testimony that would greatly help his case against Peters. That is what scientists call singing like a canary.
“There was some specific information she provided to us that was very valuable in the continued prosecution about the timing of events, the order of events, and showing that Ms. Peters both directed this and how calculated her conduct was.”
—Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein
It was Knisley’s case that led to the very public arrest of Peters on new charges that she was attempting to intimidate the court by recording, with an iPad, the proceedings against the court’s direction. Mesa County District Court Judge Matthew Barrett said that he was willing to sign off on this plea deal but not without reservations, telling the 67-year-old Knisley she was only getting out of serving jail time because the deal requires it, and that it was this reason alone that “you will walk out of this courtroom.”
Barrett made sure Knisley understood he did not consider her contrite statement to the court to be particularly sufficient: “Every time you acknowledged what you did, you prefaced it with, ‘I was told to do this. I was told to do that,’ as if you did not know exactly what you were doing and as if you did not know the harm you were engaging in.” But he also said there were more important things at stake and her deal could help bring that justice.
According to Colorado officials, Peters directed Knisley and others to help her bring in a former pro surfer and former worker for Trump’s legal team, Conan Hayes, to copy information off of Dominion Voting machines before they were scheduled for a secure upgrade. Hayes was then given fake identification, which still technically didn’t give him the clearance to be allowed into the secure room where the machines were kept. Peters even made sure to turn off the security cameras facing the secure room for the days she and her cohorts were breaching election security.
Griswold was successful in investigating Peters and her MAGA cronies and providing enough evidence to get these Trump-loving conspiracy theorists and anti-democracy criminals banned from participating in all subsequent elections in Colorado. Peters has used her infamy to prop herself up as one of the many GOP con artists who claim to be persecuted by a liberal cabal of woke commie Muslim Jews. This has gotten her into the slightly more fringe circle of MAGA ruled by MyPillow huckster Mike Lindell. Lindell has boasted of having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Peters’ legal defense. His boasts pointed to the very real chance that Peters, who already embodies one big chapter of immorality in an ethics course, transgressed even further into ethics violations by taking illegal gifts from private funding while she was still an elected official.
Barrett was very eloquent in his statement before agreeing to the Knisley plea deal: “Democracy will prevail. Our system of law will prevail. Because without democracy, without our law, we are nothing more than any other failed state in this world, run by the loudest of voices with the worst of intentions — the mob who thinks they know what justice is without any regard of the facts, or worse.”
A third former elections manager for Mesa County Clerk Peters, Sandra Brown, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant in July.
Why don’t we all enjoy watching Peters get handcuffed again?
Here’s an added bonus, only related by handcuffs!
Donald Trump and his MAGA allies came close to overthrowing our democracy on January 6, and they will try again if they win in 2022. The best thing you can do is to help get out the Democratic vote for the midterms, and we need everyone to do what they can. Click here to find all the volunteer opportunities available.
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