Tina Peters, the Republican clerk of Mesa County, Colorado who was long suspected of aiding a leak of sensitive election machinery data from her own office, has been indicted on multiple counts by a Colorado grand jury, as has her deputy Belinda Knisley.
According to the indictment, Peters and Knisley allegedly devised and executed a scheme to breach security protocols that led to the distribution of confidential information from county election systems. And to carry out the scheme, the indictment alleged, Peters committed criminal impersonation against a Colorado man whose name was used for an access badge for county election offices.
The charges against Peters include three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, one count of conspiracy to commit attempt to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state, according to a press release from the Mesa County district attorney’s office.
Knisley was charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, one count of conspiracy to commit attempting to influence a public servant, violation of duty, and failing to comply with the secretary of state, according to the release.
“This investigation is ongoing, and other defendants may be charged as we learn more information,” Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a joint statement.
Peters’ brush with the law began last May, when state officials came to Mesa County for an in-person software update for election machines known as a “trusted build.”
According to the indictment, ahead of the trusted build, Peters and Knisley requested that a county IT employee create a county email address and login credentials for a “temp person for the Elections Department” — a man named Gerald “Jerry” Wood.
That’s a real person: Wood himself testified to the grand jury, saying that Peters had contacted him about doing some IT work for the county, including backing up Dominion voting machines. But, Wood testified, he had no familiarity with the machines, and he never ended up doing any work for the county.
Nonetheless, the indictment alleged that a key card access badge assigned to “Wood” was used to access the election offices’ secure area just a couple days before the trusted build. And on the day of the trusted build itself, Peters allegedly introduced a man that she referred to as “Gerald Wood” to employees of Dominion Voting System and the Secretary of State’s office who were present for the procedure.
Though there are security cameras in the office, they didn’t capture what happened: Knisley allegedly worked to shut off surveillance cameras days ahead of time. She told the grand jury that she did this at Peters’ direction, the indictment said.
Footage recorded by someone who was present at the trusted build, as well as digital copies of election machines, were later leaked online. QAnon influencer Ron Watkins published some of the footage on his Twitter account — in turn leading investigators to Peters’ doorstep.
Just before Peters was set to speak at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” in August, the secretary of state’s office began an investigation of the leak, raiding Peters’ office.
Watkins attended the Lindell symposium as well, and was in the middle of talking about the leaked information from Mesa County when he abruptly stopped, apparently on the advice of his attorney Ty Clevenger.
Through Clevenger, Watkins later declined TPM’s request for an interview about the incident, but the lawyer himself did participate in a brief interview a couple weeks after the symposium. “Whoever gave the information to Ron,” he said, “pointed to Tina Peters as the ultimate source of the information.”
Peters has remained defiant — even amid an FBI raid of her home, a grand jury investigation and an unrelated arrest — asserting over and over for months that she is exposing wrongdoing by voting machine manufacturers and election officials. (Of course, the material she has released publicly has shown no such thing.)
Having been ordered by a judge to halt her work supervising Mesa County’s elections, Peters initially announced that she was running for reelection as clerk, then set her sights higher, saying she was campaigning instead to be Colorado’s next secretary of state.
Through it all, Lindell has remained an ally for Peters, helping her briefly slip under the radar after the symposium, and having her on often as a guest on his platform LindellTV.
Peters appeared on LindellTV for around 40 minutes Tuesday, talking about her campaign for secretary of state and complaining about current secretary of state Jena Griswold’s legal efforts to keep Peters away from election administration.
“To me, this sounds like criminal conduct,” host Brannon Howse said.
“Well, yes it is,” Peters replied.