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Colorado attorney general joins investigation into Mesa County election system leak

Clerk Tina Peters suspected of participating in activity that resulted in release of passwords
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters reads an election update June 30 in Grand Junction. Peters is accused of participating in activity that led to the release of election-system hard drive images and passwords. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via AP)

The office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is involved with the investigation into a reported election-system security breach in Mesa County, a spokesperson for Weiser confirmed to Newsline.

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is accused by Secretary of State Jena Griswold of participating in activity that led to the release of election-system hard drive images and passwords to election-fraud conspiracy theorists, including Ron Watkins, a leading QAnon figure.

The reported breach is the subject of an investigation by the secretary of state, as well as a criminal probe by the 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and the FBI. As of Wednesday, no criminal charges had been filed against Peters in connection with the incident.

“Our office is working with the Mesa County DA in the election system breach investigation,” attorney general spokesperson Lawrence Pacheco told Newsline, adding that Weiser’s involvement is related to the attorney general’s role in representing the secretary of state’s office. He decline to elaborate about the nature of the attorney general’s involvement in the Mesa County case.

Peters, a Republican adherent of debunked claims that the November election was fraudulent, has not cooperated with investigators from the Secretary of State’s Office, and she’s reportedly out of the state “in hiding” and under the protection of MyPillow CEO and election conspiracist Mike Lindell.

Griswold ordered that Mesa County’s election equipment had to be replaced, and she designated a new supervisor, Mesa County Treasurer Sheila Reiner, to oversee elections in Peters’ place. Griswold also prohibited two clerk’s office staff members accused of involvement in the election-system breach – Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley and elections manager Sandra Brown – from any role in elections. On Saturday during a rally in Grand Junction in support of Peters, Knisley told Newsline that Peters was “working remotely” and said, “I’m chief deputy so when she’s not in the office I am the clerk.”

A spokesperson for Griswold declined to say whether the attorney general’s involvement in the case was related to the secretary’s order regarding Peters’ role in Mesa County elections.

“We are still considering next steps,” spokesperson Annie Orloff said.

To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.