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Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters faces lawsuit over alleged 2022 fundraising violations

Election official accused of raising money before declaring candidacy
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters is accused of raising money for a re-election bid before registering as a candidate for the 2022 election. (Gretel Daugherty/Special to the Sun)

The Elections Division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office has filed a lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, accusing her of actively soliciting campaign donations despite not having yet registered as a candidate for the 2022 election.

The lawsuit, first reported by the The Daily Sentinel, claims that Peters has not filed a campaign finance report since terminating her candidate committee in early 2019, but acted last summer like a candidate for re-election.

“An individual becomes a candidate when they publicly announce their intent to run for office and thereafter receive a contribution or make an expenditure in support of their candidacy,” the lawsuit says.

Peters has made it clear in interviews that she intends to run next year and has solicited donations on the campaign website TinaPetersforColorado.com and a Vote Tina Peters 2022 Facebook page. Under Colorado law, candidates must register with the Secretary of State’s Office before accepting donations for a campaign, but Peters has not filed an affidavit with the office or registered an active campaign committee.

Accepted campaign donations allegedly include travel expenses from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell when Peters attended his Cyber Symposium in August.

“On information and belief, Mr. Lindell’s contributions to Ms. Peters, a candidate for office in 2022, exceeded allowable limits,” the lawsuit says.

In addition, the lawsuit claims Peters is accepting donations for litigation support on the website StandWithTina.com. She is facing multiple lawsuits and investigations over her role in allowing Mesa County voting equipment to become compromised during a routine software update this year.

The initial complaints that served as the basis for the lawsuit were filed by Scott Beilfuss, co-chairman of the Mesa County Democrats.

The Elections Division gave Peters an opportunity to fix the violations, but she did not, according to the lawsuit.

Under Colorado election law, the fine amounts for failing to register a committee vary based on the amount of donations accepted. If a candidate accepts more than $5,000, the fine is at least $300 plus at least 10% of the total contributions and expenditures that went unreported.

The single registered candidate for next year’s clerk and recorder election in Mesa County is Republican Bobbie Gross. He has reported $1,350 in contributions so far.

Peters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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