DENVER – Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters was arrested in Grand Junction Tuesday, and a judge signed a search warrant to obtain a video recording from her iPad that was allegedly taken by Peters during a court hearing Monday involving her deputy clerk’s burglary and cybercrime charges.
Officers with the Grand Junction Police Department arrived at a cafe in the 600 block of Main Street at 10:45 a.m. on a request to assist the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office with an active investigation, the department said in a statement. Peters, who is under investigation over alleged election security breaches, was released on scene after her arrest as charges are pending, the department said.
According to the search warrant, Peters was seen with an iPad allegedly video recording a court hearing in a Mesa County courtroom Monday afternoon. The hearing was in connection to a criminal case against Mesa County Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley, who is accused of being at a county building and using her boss’s computer while she is on administrative leave.
During Monday's proceeding, the judge addressed the audience, reminding them that recordings are prohibited, which the judge said is also posted on signs at the entrance of the courtroom, according to the search warrant. Later during the hearing, Peters allegedly made statements in the courtroom, denying that she was recording "and those accusing her of recording were not being truthful," the warrant stated.
Her arrest and release comes a little more than three weeks after the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced it had convened a grand jury to investigate the allegations of official misconduct and tampering with county election equipment involving Peters and other Mesa County election workers that first came to light last year.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in mid-January also filed another lawsuit seeking to block Peters from overseeing the 2022 elections, as was the case for the November 2021 election.
There have been multiple investigations into allegations Peters tampered with county election equipment and committed official misconduct after the county’s election system was compromised and images of hard drives were put onto election conspiracy theory websites last year.
A Department of State investigation found that Knisley and another county clerk’s employee helped a man named Gerald Wood get into a May 25, 2021, “trusted build” of the county’s Dominion election system by misrepresenting his role. Investigators believe that is where the images of the passwords were taken.
In August, the secretary of state’s office said Peters and two other people went into a secure room where Mesa County’s voting equipment is kept two days before an upgrade and copied hard drive images of election management software.
On Aug. 2, video of the trusted build and the passwords for the voting system were posted on Telegram and right-wing blog The Gateway Pundit, and the hard drive image copies were posted online a week later while Peters was at Mike Lindell’s symposium.
The FBI said in mid-August it was assisting the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office with this investigation to determine if any federal crimes were committed.
In mid-October, a Mesa County judge ruled that Peters was prohibited from participating in the November 2021 election, finding she committed a breach of and neglected her duties. This came in the wake of Griswold and a Mesa County elector suing Peters and Knisley, and barring them from overseeing any part of the election.
A multiagency task force executed search warrants in November at four locations in western Colorado amid the ongoing investigation.
Peters said when the grand jury investigation was publicly announced that it would prove her innocence.
“I’ve never done anything wrong, and it’s going to show that,” she said.
Peters is now one of three Colorado county clerks under investigation for potential election security breaches tied to them each making copies of the election systems hard drives. The clerk and recorders in Elbert and Douglas counties are also under investigation.