This post has been updated.
FBI agents on Tuesday raided the home of a Trumpy Colorado county clerk already under state investigation after a leak of sensitive election information to a major QAnon influencer and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the FBI was looking for when they entered Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ home, as well as several other locations that Peters said had been raided.
But Peters has been under investigation by state and local authorities, with the help of the FBI, since August, when video and digital information showing the inner working of her county’s election machines spilled into public view, after Peters allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to attend a software update.
The data, which was taken from election machines in Peters’ custody earlier this year, was shared online by the QAnon figure Ron Watkins and analyzed before an audience at Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” in August.
The raid on Peters’ home Tuesday was part of four such federal operations Tuesday, the local district attorney said.
Peters, spilling the details of the raid in an interview with Lindell Tuesday, said authorities also raided the home of Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) former campaign manager, Peters ally Sherronna Bishop. Bishop accompanied Peters to Lindell’s cyber conference (reportedly on Lindell’s private jet), and, like Peters, has pushed false theories for months about the election machines.
“We executed four federally court-authorized operations today to gather evidence in connection with the investigation into the Mesa County clerk and recorders office,” Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein said in a statement quoted by Colorado Politics. “We did so with assistance from the DA’s office from the 21st judicial district, the attorney general’s office and the FBI.”
“The FBI conducted authorized law enforcement actions on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in support of an ongoing investigation,” Amy Jewett Sampson, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Denver office, said in an email.
Peters, speaking to Lindell, said she was “terrified” by the raid.
“The FBI raided my home at 6 a.m. this morning, accusing me of committing a crime,” Peters told Lindell in the interview Tuesday, Colorado Politics reported. “And they raided the homes of my friends, mostly older women.”
Peters said authorities took her electronic devices and searched her home for around three hours.
Mesa County spokesperson Stephanie Reecy told TPM that on Tuesday morning, “the FBI conducted federally-authorized law enforcement actions into potential criminal activity by employees of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office and others associated with those employees.”
The activity occurred in both Mesa and Garfield counties, Reecy said, and was assisted by investigators with the district attorney’s office and the Colorado attorney general’s office.
“No arrests were made, and the operations are related to ongoing investigations,” Reecy said. “Per order of a federal court, all documents related to these operations are sealed.”
The attorney general’s office declined to comment, aside from affirming that “there is a criminal investigation that is ongoing related to allegations of a security breach in the Mesa County election system,” spokesperson Lawrence Pacheco said.
Peters first picked up national attention in August, when Watkins, a right-wing influencer that many believe to be behind the posts that spurred the QAnon conspiracy theory, claimed to have been in touch with a whistleblower who’d given him a video showing the inner workings of Dominion voting machines.
The video Watkins published showed the passwords of election machines on display during a “trusted build,” or an in-person software update that occurred in May. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office was able to trace back the passwords to Mesa County, prompting a raid of Peters’ office as the clerk traveled to South Dakota to participate in Lindell’s Cyber Symposium — where Watkins also attended and discussed the leaked digital images of the voting machine with the symposium audience. That is, before his lawyer told him to shut up.
The surveillance cameras in the Mesa County election office were turned off shortly before the trusted build in question, raising further suspicions, and the secretary of state’s office accused Peters of allowing an unauthorized person, who used the name Gerald Wood, into the trusted build. The election machines had to be replaced at the county’s expense. An employee in Peter’s office was fired. And another already faces criminal charges for her actions following the raid.
Since the raid, Peters has been defiant even as she is investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement. Griswold sued, successfully, to remove Peters and a top deputy from any involvement in Mesa County’s recent elections. Peters is also facing a separate campaign finance investigation.