Colorado's MAGA clerk Tina Peters indicted by grand jury in election system security breach case
Tina Peters. (Facebook)

A Mesa County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters on 10 counts related to an investigation into election equipment tampering that led to a system security breach last summer.

The indictment is on a combination of misdemeanor and felony charges, including attempting to influence a public servant and criminal impersonation. The grand jury also indicted Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley on six counts.

Peters had been under investigation over allegedly enabling a security breach in the Mesa County elections system during a “trusted build” process, which involves a secure software update. She routinely spreads baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that Colorado’s entire election system is insecure. She aligns herself with far-right figures including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Colorado podcaster Joe Oltmann.

The grand jury took up the investigation in January.

“The grand jury, randomly selected from the same pool of citizens that elected Clerk Tina Peters and chosen months before any of these alleged offenses occurred, concluded there is probable cause that Clerk Peters and Deputy Clerk Knisley committed crimes,” reads a joint statement from Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Both Peters and Knisley are innocent until proven guilty. Arrest warrants have been issued for the charges.

Peters is charged with the felony charges of three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and one count of identity theft, as well as the misdemeanors of first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state, according to the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.

Knisley is charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state.

“This investigation is ongoing, and other defendants may be charged as we learn more information,” Rubinstein and Weiser said.

Mystery about Gerald Wood

The indictment recounts that Peters allowed an unauthorized person — previously identified as Gerald Wood — into the room during an election system software update conducted by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. After that update, system passwords and other sensitive information was posted online.

The indictment, however, reveals that Wood testified he never attended the update and never used his access badge, which he turned over to Peters a few days before the update on the same day it was created. Access keys assigned to Wood, Peters and Sandra Brown were used to access the secure elections office.

The indictment does not reveal who Peters introduced to a state elections worker as Gerald Wood actually was.

Separately, Peters was cited with contempt of court for allegedly recording a court hearing for Knisley with an iPad and then lying to the judge about it. She is also facing charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations when investigators tried to seize that iPad.

Peters is running for secretary of state to unseat Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold.

A Peters spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Griswold said she is committed to upholding the state’s election infrastructure.

“Every eligible Coloradan — Republican, Democrat, and Unaffiliated alike — has the right to make their voice heard in safe, accessible, and secure elections. To do that, we need election administrators who are committed to following the law and election rules. Officials tasked with carrying out elections do so in public trust and must be held accountable when they abuse their power or position,” she said.

Indictment


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