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New charges for Colorado clerk targeted in voting probe

February 10, 2022 GMT
FILE - Mesa County, Colo., clerk Tina Peters speaks during a truth and justice rally Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado's Mesa County, posted $500 bond after being booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via A,File)/
FILE - Mesa County, Colo., clerk Tina Peters speaks during a truth and justice rally Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado's Mesa County, posted $500 bond after being booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via A,File)/
FILE - Mesa County, Colo., clerk Tina Peters speaks during a truth and justice rally Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado's Mesa County, posted $500 bond after being booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via A,File)/
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FILE - Mesa County, Colo., clerk Tina Peters speaks during a truth and justice rally Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado's Mesa County, posted $500 bond after being booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via A,File)/
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FILE - Mesa County, Colo., clerk Tina Peters speaks during a truth and justice rally Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, outside the old Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado's Mesa County, posted $500 bond after being booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via A,File)/

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado county elections clerk under investigation by federal and state authorities in a security breach of voting machines posted bond on Thursday on two misdemeanor charges in a separate case, authorities said.

Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder for western Colorado’s Mesa County, posted $500 bond after she was booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer and obstructing government operations, Megan Terlecky, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement.

The charges stem from efforts by Grand Junction police on Tuesday to seize an iPad belonging to Peters. The local District Attorney’s Office is investigating whether Peters used the iPad to record a Monday court hearing for Belinda Knisley, an elections deputy who’s been charged in the security breach investigation.

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Peters told the judge during the hearing that she wasn’t recording the session, but a deputy prosecutor and court reporter insisted that she was, The Grand Junction Sentinel reported. Audio and video recording of the proceedings had been forbidden.

Peters is accused of resisting police efforts to seize the iPad as she sat at a cafe on Tuesday, including allegedly trying to kick an officer who was trying to arrest her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

She was briefly detained and released, the Sentinel reported. The incident led to the misdemeanor charges, which carry fines and potential jail time.

A message seeking comment could not be left for Peters because her phone voicemail service said it was full.

Rory McShane, a spokesman for Peters’ legal defense fund, told The Sentinel that Peters resisted because police tried to take other items, including electronic devices and her car keys.

Peters has become an advocate for those who believe, without evidence, that the 2020 election was fraudulent — although she has said elections in Mesa County, which voted overwhelmingly for then-President Donald Trump, were secure and accurate. Democrat Joe Biden handily defeated Trump in Colorado in 2020.

A Mesa County grand jury is investigating Peters in connection with allegations of tampering with election equipment. Peters also is being investigated by the FBI and by Colorado officials in the alleged security breach involving elections equipment in May.

Peters has denied any wrongdoing.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold contends that images of election equipment management software from Mesa County were obtained by elections conspiracy theorists and posted on far-right blogs.

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Griswold’s office has said one of the images was taken May 23 from inside a secure room in Mesa County where the voting equipment was stored and had been accessed that day by Peters, who allowed a non-employee into the room.

Griswold, a Democrat, has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to remove Peters, a Republican, from administering the 2022 election. Griswold successfully sued to have Peters removed from administering last November’s midterm election.

District Attorney Daniel Rubinstein has filed charges of second-degree burglary and cybercrime against Knisley.

In August, Mesa County officials served Knisley a written notice of her suspension as an employee, explaining that the county received “numerous workplace harassment complaints.”

Two days later, Knisley allegedly attempted to access the county’s computer network using Peters’ computer and log-in credentials, according to an arrest affidavit.