Grand jury will investigate election equipment tampering in Mesa County

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. | A grand jury will investigate allegations of tampering with election equipment and official misconduct in a Colorado county where the clerk is being investigated for an alleged security breach of elections equipment, prosecutors said Thursday.

In joint statement, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said a grand jury in Mesa County accepted the case Wednesday and will assist in an ongoing investigation into the allegations, which has been underway for several months.

“This investigation will be thorough and guided by the facts and the law. More information will be made available when the prosecutors are ethically and legally permitted to provide additional details,” they said in the announcement, which was first reported by The Daily Sentinel.

The statement did not say who will be investigated but it comes as Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is being investigated by the FBI and by Colorado officials in an alleged security breach involving elections equipment in Mesa County in May. Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, successfully sued to have Peters and a deputy, Belinda Knisley, removed from administering the November midterm election. Peters has denied any wrongdoing.

A telephone message left for Peters’ attorney was not immediately returned.

Peters rejected a state settlement offer that would have allowed her renewed access to the county elections division under strict state supervision, The Daily Sentinel also reported Thursday. The offer from Griswold’s office called on Peters to “completely repudiate, retract and disavow” some statements she’s made about voting security.

Peters has become an advocate for those who believe, without evidence, that the 2020 election was fraudulent — although she has said elections in Mesa County, which voted overwhelmingly for then-President Donald Trump, were secure and accurate. Democrat Joe Biden handily defeated Trump in Colorado in 2020.

Knisley was subsequently suspended and charged with felony second-degree burglary and a cybercrime misdemeanor count by Rubinstein’s office. Knisley also has denied wrongdoing.

In November, an FBI-led law enforcement task force searched four western Colorado locations, including Peters’ home, in the investigation.

Griswold sued to remove Peters as county clerk and recorder after Griswold said images of election equipment management software from Mesa County were obtained by elections conspiracy theorists and posted on far-right blogs.

Griswold’s office has said one of the images was taken May 23 from inside a secure room in Mesa County where the voting equipment was stored and had been accessed that day by Peters, who allowed a non-employee into the room.

Griswold’s office has identified the person it says was allowed into the secure room but has refused to say anything more. The Associated Press isn’t naming the person until more information becomes available. He has not been charged with a crime.

In one of the statements that Griswold’s office called on Peters to back away from under the settlement offer, Peters recently said that “we’ve got to get those machines so they are transparent to the people and they’re not able to do what they’re designed to do,” the Sentinel reported.

Peters said in a statement she rejected the offer because it called on her to disavow her beliefs.

“Please name one time in the history of the world in which the side demanding you ‘repudiate’ your beliefs, especially beliefs for transparency, in exchange for return of your rights, have been the good guys,” Peters said in the release.

“I’m not surprised that the radical secretary of state wants to muzzle her and sweep all election questions under the rug,” said her attorney, former GOP Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Peters first commented about the FBI-led searches during an appearance on an online channel operated by Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and a supporter of Peters and Trump who has repeatedly made discredited claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

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GeneD
6 months ago

Where are the Republican elected officials who are not embarrassments to the state? Please come forward.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
6 months ago
Reply to  GeneD

It appears none exist in CO, and perhaps they are rare in the US period.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
6 months ago

Don’t let Peters, Gessler, or any other corrupt GOP officials get near CO elections. Peters and Boebert are friends, and Boebert’s election should have been investigated for fraud possibly enabled by Peters who was election official in charge at the time in 3rd District. Jena Griswold is best SOS in US, has best credentials having studied government elections on graduate level and youngest elected leader of US SOS Association – highly competent, ethical and passionate about election improvements and security. But she should not offer Peters any kind of a settlement that allows Peters to be involved ever again with CO elections, CO govt or any CO leadership role.