The FBI and Colorado law enforcement officials searched four locations in the state Tuesday, including the home of a Republican election clerk and associates of hers, amid an investigation into allegations the elected official was involved in an election system breach.
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and others in her office have been under criminal investigation over the purported security breach of the county’s Dominion election equipment since it became public in August.
“No arrests were made, and the operations are related to ongoing investigations,” Mesa County spokesperson Stephanie Reecy wrote in an e-mail to the Denver Post.
Peters was prohibited last month from overseeing the Nov. 3 election in the county by a judge after Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit seeking to ban Peters from her duties based on claims she played a role in the breach, Colorado Public Radio reported. The ruling to not allow Peters access to the voting machines also extended to her deputy, Belinda Knisley.
Peters first commented on the court-ordered search that happened early in the morning during an appearance on the online channel operated by Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who is a supporter of former president Donald Trump, Colorado Politics reported.
But Attorney General Phil Weiser and District Attorney Dan Rubinstein pushed back on Peters’ criticism of the search Wednesday in a joint statement against the accusations that extreme force was used. They also specified that the search of her home was “judicially authorized.”
“At no time was force used on Ms. Peters or her home,” the statement said. “Ms. Peters was allowed to move around her home and fix herself breakfast while agents gathered items before departing.”
Griswold said in the opening brief of her lawsuit that her office found evidence that Peters brought an unauthorized person into the room where the voting system is located during a routine software update. Photos and videos of the election equipment hard drives were made during the process, according to the lawsuit, which included passwords for the voting equipment.
Those system passwords later appeared on right-wing websites in early August, and a week later, copies of the “hard drive images for Mesa County’s voting systems were also posted to social media,” after it was discovered surveillance video of the equipment had been turned off, according to the lawsuit filed by Griswold, who is a Democrat. The Mesa County Board of County Commissioners had to decommission and replace its voting equipment as a result of Knisley and Peter’s “cavalier and wrongful acts,” according to the lawsuit.
“We just had elections, and they went great in Mesa County,” Griswold said in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night. “But this is an emerging threat to our democracy. The same conspiracy theories that were being pushed ... for voter suppression are now causing insider threats to election administration.”
Peters has emerged as a voice for those who peddle disputed election fraud claims, the Denver Post reported. She has filed counterclaims to Griswold’s lawsuit alleging that election records had been deleted. Commissioners in her county, meanwhile, have asserted on multiple occasions that the 2020 election was conducted fairly, Colorado Public Radio reported.
The searches arrived on the same day Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission said it would look into allegations Peters violated a state constitutional gift ban imposed on elected officials, including flights on a private plane she accepted from Lindell, Colorado Politics reported.