Arrest sought of Colorado clerk in voting tampering case

DENVER (AP) — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for an indicted Colorado clerk who has become a hero to election conspiracy theorists after she allegedly traveled out of state despite a court order not to do so, according to court documents.

But a lawyer for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters asked the judge to cancel the warrant because he said she was unaware of the order before she traveled to a conference in Las Vegas.

The judge earlier revoked bond and issued the warrant for Peters, who is accused of tampering with voting equipment, after District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said in the documents that he had learned she traveled to Nevada for a conference after she sent a letter notarized in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The letter, sent to Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, requested a recount in her failed primary election bid for the GOP nomination in the state secretary of state’s race.

Rubinstein, a Republican, had previously said he would not object to Peters traveling outside of Colorado during her campaign for secretary of state. But the election was held June 28, and the the court documents said the letter was notarized on July 12. Judge Matthew Barrett issued an order Monday that Peters not travel until the post-election approval process for her travel was resolved.

In a court filing Thursday, Peters’ lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, said he did not learn about the order in time to warn Peters about it before she left for Las Vegas earlier this week.

She did not try to conceal her appearance at the conference, which was livestreamed, he said. In addition, Steinberg said Peters is still a candidate for the secretary of state, noting that the election results have not been certified yet.

Peters has echoed former President Donald Trump’s false theories about the 2020 election. She and her chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, are being prosecuted for allegedly allowing a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of election equipment in May 2021. A former employee in her office, Sandra Brown, was arrested this week and is now also accused of being part of the scheme.

Peters is charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, one count of identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty and failing to comply with the secretary of state.

Both Peters and Knisley have denied wrongdoing, with Peters calling the charges politically motivated.

Brown, the former elections manager in Peter’s office, was charged Thursday with an attempt to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, and conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation.

According to a court document, Knisley worked to get a security badge for a man Peters said she was hiring in the clerk’s office. Peters then used it to allow another, unauthorized person inside the room to make a copy of the election equipment hard drive, it said. Brown was present when the copy was made and conspired to misrepresent who the person using the badge was, it said.

Efforts to reach Brown for comment were unsuccessful via phone numbers that may be associated with her. Court records did not list an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

Mesa County, in western Colorado, is largely rural and heavily Republican. Trump won it in the 2020 presidential election with nearly 63% of the vote. President Joe Biden won Colorado overall with 55.4% of the state’s vote.

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