At Grand Junction High School yesterday, embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters pitched her candidacy for Colorado Secretary of State to GOP caucus-goers who included Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.
Peters is the subject of multiple investigations – local, state, and federal — for alleged election-equipment tampering and wire fraud.
In a separate case, Rubinstein recently concluded an investigation of Peters that resulted in a court-issued contempt citation. Peters is accused of lying about her use of an iPad to record a court proceeding for Mesa County Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley, who’s been charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor cybercrimes. Knisley was placed on paid administrative leave in August. When investigators attempted to seize the iPad as evidence, Peters resisted and kicked at police officers.
Peters appeared somewhat nervous as she spoke in the classroom where Mesa County’s Precinct 66 had gathered to meet with candidates and vote on delegates that will attend county and state conventions. Nine precincts met at the high school for the GOP caucus on Saturday.
“The reason I ran (for clerk and recorder) is to save Mesa County,” Peters said. “I wanted to help the county and change the face of government to a more efficient role.
“I did a forensic audit as you know. My duty is to preserve election records. We have found some egregious things which we gave to Dan Rubinstein. I can’t un-see what I’ve seen.”
A second report from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s cyber-investigation team – which Peters called a “block buster” has been debunked by election officials.
“I can’t say anything with the DA here because he’s prosecuting me,” Peters told the precinct members, that included Rubinstein who stood nearby.
When a caucus-goer asked Rubinstein if she could see that report he responded that because his copy of the report is part of a criminal investigation he’s unable to release it to the public.
However, “Tina Peters can give it to you,” he told caucus-goers – though Peters quickly denied that claim.
Which prompted Rubinstein to ask, “Why can’t you give it to them?”
Peters replied, “They have to,” before quickly moving on to another topic, and departing from the room shortly after. After the meeting adjourned Rubinstein was asked to who Peters was referring.
“I don’t know who ‘they’ are,” he said.
Rubinstein also said he doesn’t know what election Peters is calling “fraudulent.”
“I know Trump won overwhelmingly in Mesa County,” he said.
In February, Colorado Public Radio reported that Peters announced her bid for Colorado Secretary of State on right-wing political strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit last year to ban Peters and Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election while investigations are ongoing. A Mesa County judge formally stripped Peters of her election duties in October. A second lawsuit seeks to also ban Peters from the 2022 elections.
“Removing an elected official is unprecedented based on an accusation,” Peters said at the caucus gathering. “I’m very transparent. I’m the only one who can take down Jena Griswold. I promise you I won’t back down; I won’t give up.”
Before caucus-goers moved on to discuss and elect delegates, two other candidates stopped by to introduce themselves to voters.
Trish Weber is running for Colorado House of Representatives for District 55 – a seat currently held by Republican Janice Rich, who is leaving to run for the Colorado State Senate.
Weber introduced herself as a lifelong Republican and former radiologist at Community Hospital for 13 years. She’s also the mother of three children. Her husband is a dermatologist in Grand Junction.
“We need to develop our oil and gas on the Western Slope,” Weber said. “I filled up my gas tank and it had gone up 24 to 30 cents more since Wednesday.”
Weber also said she wants to “push back” on mandates within the school system and stop pushing parents out of the educational process.
“I’ve watched our beautiful state move to being a big government state,” she said.
Additionally, Weber mentioned the need for reliable transportation, including air transport in and out of the Grand Valley.
A third candidate, Dean Havlik, also stopped by to ask caucus-goers to elect him as Mesa County’s Coroner, a position he held previously until he was term-limited in 2019.
Caucus newcomers Susie Christianson, a retired Marine Corp servicemember, and Amy Nuernberg, a design and marketing professional, were attending their first caucus ever – both women were interested in serving as delegates to support Eli Bremer, who is running for U.S. Senate.
“I’ve never done this before,” Nuernberg said. “I just thought it would be useful to participate, step up, take some responsibility, and be more informed.”
Christianson said she wants to be a state delegate to support GOP U.S. Senate candidate Eli Bremer, an acquaintance, who is also a U.S. military veteran.
“All of us are corruptible on some level – but he’s the least likely,” she said. “I’m here to support Eli. That’s why I want to go so I can vote for him.”