by Sharon Sullivan, for Colorado Newsline
About 200 supporters of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters gathered for a noon rally Saturday in Grand Junction. Peters’ office is being investigated for alleged participation in an elections system security breach by the Colorado secretary of state, the Mesa County district attorney’s office, and the FBI.
The rally took place just west of downtown Grand Junction in an empty lot at the corner of Main and First streets, near the clerk’s office, at 200 S. Spruce St., where many people held signs and waved to passing motorists.
Peters was noticeably absent — she has reportedly gone into hiding after speaking at a voter fraud conspiracy event hosted by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lindell is a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, who claims — without evidence — that the 2020 election was rigged. A speaker at the rally, Cory Anderson, read a message he said was from Peters thanking her supporters for being there, urging them to “press on,” and saying that she loves them. He also mentioned a legal defense fund for Peters, who faces possible criminal charges.
Peters’ Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley was present, however, as well as back-office elections manager Sandra Brown.
“I do not know where she is,” said Knisley when asked if she knew the whereabouts of Peters. “She did not tell me.”
When asked if she’s performing Peters’ duties in her absence, Knisley said, “She’s working remotely, but I’m chief deputy so when she’s not in the office I am the clerk.”
Secretary of State Jena Griswold in an Aug. 17 order, citing “improper” activity related to the alleged security breach, said Knisley and Brown are “prohibited from supervising, accessing, or participating in any aspect of all elections.” Griswold appointed an outside supervisor to oversee Mesa County elections.
Knisley added of Peters, “She’s very much involved on a daily basis doing what the people elected her to do.”
Stacy Brown stood next to his wife, Sandra, both holding red and white signs that said “Tina Peters Clerk and Recorder.” Stacy said he was there to support his wife, who was “put on leave without cause.”
“I’m supporting Tina as well,” he added. “It’s a major overstepping by the secretary of state.”
Griswold initiated the investigation into the Mesa County clerk’s office after an alleged security breach during an equipment upgrade. Peters is accused of allowing an unauthorized person who she falsely claimed was an employee into a secure area. That person, identified as Gerald Wood, allegedly took photos of elections systems passwords that were later posted on a conspiracy theorist web site.
Sandra Brown said she was placed on administrative leave, with pay, on Thursday, pending the investigation. She said she’s had the position for a little over a year. Prior to the manager job she worked as elections specialist, she said.
Standing near the Browns were sisters Misty Rojo and Moriah Surber, both of Fruita, and their father, Lyle Brandt. “I trust Tina Peters” and “I support Tina Peters,” their signs said.
“Tina was standing up for what she believed in,” Surber said. “She didn’t give the password away — that was the Democrats. The secretary of state is a liar … I think (Peters) was making a copy of the hard drive because she knew Democrats were going to come in and hide the evidence. There’s proof of election fraud everywhere. Look at the Arizona audit.” Arizona’s Republican-controlled state Senate ordered what’s widely viewed as a sham audit of Maricopa County ballots.
As far as his reasons for being at the rally, Brandt said, “Illegal aliens shouldn’t be able to vote,” adding, “I’m tired of them stealing our freedom away from us.”
Grand Junction resident Dusty Mecham said he was there out of “loyalty to a true patriot — Tina Peters.”
Mecham belongs to the Stand For The Constitution group, whose members have been regularly attending school board and county commissioner meetings demanding no public health mandates. The Aug. 17 meeting of the School District 51 board became especially contentious, resulting in board members receiving a security staff escort to their cars after the meeting, The Daily Sentinel reported.
Mecham said he’s been involved with U.S. Election Integrity Plan, a group that sent individuals door-to-door trying to find evidence of election fraud. Using data the group obtained from the Mesa County Clerk’s Office — including names, addresses, party affiliation, and whether or not a person voted — they’d ask residents if they voted in the 2020 election, and if they voted by mail or in-person, Mecham said. They also asked people if they were happy with the system.
There were various speakers during the rally, including Don Hunger, who called for help creating a new source for news.
“We’re tired of the news in this county,” Hunger said. “We’re going to overrun the news. We’re going to do our own news and we need you to help us get it out. We want to make concerned citizens know what’s going on. We need your help.”
This story originally appeared in Colorado Newsline.