Trump-loving Colorado county clerk may be violating the law with legal defense fund

The legal defense fund set up by an embattled Colorado county clerk may run afoul of state ethics rules.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters established the fund to pay legal expenses as she faces criminal investigation in the leak of sensitive voting machine data, including passwords and software used to manage elections in 62 of the state's 64 counties, that wound up posted on a right-wing blog, reported Colorado Politics.

"Not only do I need your support in getting to the bottom of the voting irregularities that you have presented to my office, but I need your support to get through these politically motivated legal challenges that have been leveled against me," Peters says in a video streamed on the Stand for the Constitution Facebook group's page. "I am fighting back, and I need you to, too. I need your voices, I need your support, I need your prayers, and I need your financial contribution to ensure that our legal rights will continue. Together, we can fight back, and we can take back our county and our country."

However, the legal defense fund may violate the state constitutional gift ban, which general limits gifts to $65 from any individual, according to one legal expert.

"The donations must be publicly disclosed, and must be administered by someone not directly affiliated with the clerk. In addition, no donations may be accepted if the donor is a lobbyist," said Jane Feldman, who staffed the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission from 2008 to 2013. "The solicitation on her website contain none of those conditions, and therefore may cause violations of the gift ban."

Until last week, Peters hadn't been to her office in Grand Junction for more than a month after she appeared at a "cyber symposium" hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to air conspiracy theories about Donald Trump's election loss, and she's also facing at least two ethics complaints about travel and accommodations provided by the bedding magnate.

The secretary of state Jena Griswold's office, which is suing Peters to prevent her from overseeing November's election, notified the county clerk Aug. 30 that she had 10 business days to file a notice whether she intended to report Lindell's gifts in an official filing.