Who Will be the Republican Nominee for SOS in 2022?

As we normally do in an election year, we’re asking Colorado Pols readers to predict the future in several key upcoming races.

This poll is about the Republican race for Secretary of State in 2022. Read our “Debate Diary” from last week’s SOS forum, and then vote below. Will Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters emerge victorious on June 28, or will it be former Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson? And what about Mike O’Donnell? Who will move on to challenge incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold in November?

Tina Peters, Mike O’Donnell, and Pam Anderson

 

*Remember, as always with our totally non-scientific polls, we want to know what you legitimately THINK will happen — not what you hope will happen or which candidate you support personally. If you had to bet the deed to your house that your prediction would be correct, how would you vote?

 

Who Will Be the Republican Nominee for SOS in 2022?

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Debate Diary: Republican Candidates for Secretary of State

The three Republican candidates for Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) took part in a candidate forum on Thursday, May 12. Republicans Tina Peters, Mike O’Donnell, and Pam Anderson met for what we believe to be the first time at the Foothills Republican Club in Jefferson County.

Of course, we HAD to commemorate the event with another one of our world famous Debate Diaries.

But before we get started with our “Debate Diary,” we should note a few things that might help make sense of what you’re about to read:

♦ We’ve seen a lot of political debates in Colorado over the years. Without a doubt, this was the single most incomprehensible candidate forum we have ever witnessed. 

 

The format of the forum was bizarre, with the first candidate who answered a question getting an extra minute to add more to their response once the other candidates were finished; most of the time, nobody had any use for this extra minute. The forum moderator was also terrible (more on that in a moment), which made it difficult to understand what the candidates were supposed to be talking about.  

But the biggest problem with this forum was with the candidates themselves. Anderson is clearly the most knowledgeable and qualified of the three SOS candidates, but she has a weird habit of leaving out key words or phrases in her answers or tossing out responses that need more context. For example, at one point Anderson said, “I know exactly where we need to go to solve the problem,” but it is unclear both what she means by a solution and what problem she is referencing in the first place.

O’Donnell adds nothing of substance to the conversation. He mostly talks about how he has been going line-by-line through the voter rolls and flagging things that he finds “weird.” Occasionally O’Donnell would toss in a bold statement near the end of his answer that nobody ever follows up on; for example, he alleged at one point that ballots are being bought and sold in Colorado. O’Donnell also seems to think that the SOS can overturn legislation.

And then there’s Peters. Her responses only make sense if you are VERY familiar with what Peters has been doing in the last 18 months; if you were watching this debate with a limited background on the candidates, you’d likely find most of Peters’s answers to be complete gibberish. Peters also makes no effort to give a good faith answer to any question, which limits any potential for debate. If Peters starts to get cornered on an issue, she responds by repeating the numbers of a particular statute or rattling off impenetrable acronyms.  

 

It’s hard to be bad at moderating a candidate forum, but Chris Murphy figured out a way. He’s absolutely brutal. Moderating a candidate forum is not rocket surgery; you just need to remember that a) Nobody is there to see you, and b) Questions should never be longer than the answers. 

It’s clear on several occasions that the candidates don’t really know much about what Murphy is referencing in a particular question. Things get even more confusing when Murphy throws in a personal anecdote that is (at best) tangentially related to the topic.  

Murphy also has a strange habit of taking a long time to set up a question and then, at the end, asking the candidates to answer a bunch of other questions. For example, Tell us how you would improve the mail ballot process, and also what is your favorite color and do you like Joe Biden and do you think Jena Griswold spells her name wrong?

 

Tina Peters said “I broke no laws/rules” about a dozen times. It’s more than a little conspicuous. 

 

We’re referencing the 9News live stream of the SOS debate for this diary; you can watch yourself below. 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark also live tweeted the debate if you’re interested in some extra reading.

Alright, let’s get to it. As always, unless otherwise noted, consider all comments paraphrased in the interest of time and/or preventing carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

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The GMS Podcast: The One With the Epic Rant on Abortion Rights

This week in episode 107 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii welcome back Christy Powell once more for the latest news on fundraising numbers for statewide races and one unforgettable diatribe about abortion rights (seriously, it could be its own episode — jump to the 22:45 mark).

But first, Jason and Ian consider the political implications in Colorado of the demise of Roe v. Wade and make sure to update you on where Republican candidates for federal office stand on the issue. We also dive into the big news in the race for Governor and listen to Republican candidate Greg Lopez talk himself into oblivion in an interview with 9News.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Statewide Fundraising: Bad News for Ganahl and the GOP

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Tina Peters at last filed her first campaign finance report, and it was pretty good (relative to her Republican opponents, anyway).

—–

UPDATE: As of 3:41 pm, Peters has yet to file a campaign finance report.

—–

The deadline to file Q1 fundraising reports in Colorado was midnight on Monday, May 2, which means we have our first good look at how much support the various campaigns for statewide office have generated…

…Except for Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, who as of this writing has yet to submit her first fundraising report as a candidate for Secretary of State. On the one hand, it is perfectly on-brand for Peters to miss her first fundraising deadline, since she clearly operates on the idea that laws are meant for everyone else. On the other (much larger) hand, candidates for SECRETARY OF STATE should probably follow the same rules they will be expected to enforce if elected.

We’ll update this post if and when Peters decides to file a fundraising report. In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of how the rest of the statewide candidates fared in Q1.

As you read these numbers, remember something that we often repeat here at Colorado Pols: Fundraising isn’t just about money — it is an indicator of the level of support for a particular candidate. People generally don’t give money to candidates if they don’t believe they can win. 

 

GOVERNOR

This has not been a great week to be Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl. You could say that about most weeks since Ganahl first announced her candidacy last September, but this has been a particularly rough couple of days for the current CU Regent.

Ganahl has long been the presumed frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor and the chance to challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in November, but her entire campaign has been what you could charitably call “underwhelming.” Over the weekend, Danielle Neuschwanger became the gubernatorial nominee of the American Constitution Party (ACN), which is a massive blow to whichever Republican candidate wins the nomination in June. On Monday, Ganahl essentially confirmed the weakness of her candidacy with another poor fundraising report.

Ganahl’s fundraising has been historically bad for a Republican gubernatorial candidate — a trend that continues with the first quarter of this year. There’s no positive way to spin the fact that the presumed GOP frontrunner begins the month of May with just $200k in the bank. It’s not fair to compare fundraising numbers with Polis, who will self-fund his re-election campaign to whatever tune he deems necessary; but as you’ll see with other fundraising numbers below, Ganahl’s totals don’t even look that great compared to campaigns for lower-profile offices.

The rest of the campaign finance numbers in this race aren’t all that relevant, since we wouldn’t expect either Greg Lopez or Neuschwanger to be raising a lot of money.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser continues to raise boatloads of cash for his re-election bid, which has allowed him to already book a lot of television advertising time (hence Weiser’s large Q1 expenditures).

Republican John Kellner didn’t get a full quarter in which to fundraise — he didn’t really begin his AG campaign until February — but these are poor numbers nonetheless. Strong candidates often raise a good deal of money in their first quarter because that’s when they are first hitting up the donors with whom they have a close relationship. Kellner’s weak fundraising may also be an indication that he will be relying almost entirely on the assistance of the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA) for most of his advertising expenditures.

 

SECRETARY OF STATE

Incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold is setting new records for fundraising for a candidate for SOS. Similar to Weiser, this is allowing her to reserve a bunch of advertising time in advance.

We wrote about Republican Pam Anderson’s anemic numbers in an earlier post. If Anderson is going to win a Republican Primary in June, she’s likely going to need a significant expenditure from an outside group or PAC to boost her name ID. We still don’t know who Mike O’Donnell is, but it’s a bad sign for Anderson that his cash on hand numbers are nearly seven times larger.

 

STATE TREASURER

Much like his Democratic colleagues (though to a lesser extent), incumbent Dave Young is raising enough money that he can start to book advertising spots in advance, which generally saves campaigns a good deal of money.

Republican Lang Sias, meanwhile, is raising the kind of money that would be great for a State House race but is not particularly impressive for a statewide campaign. Sias has been doing this long enough that he should have plenty of contacts for fundraising purposes; of course, he’s also been losing for long enough that those contacts may not be returning his phone calls. These weak fundraising numbers could be a sign that Sias is counting on a third-party expenditure to raise his name ID…or it might just be a reminder that he’s Lang Sias.

Pam Anderson’s Got A Very Big Little Problem

Fundraising reports for the most recent period are starting to show up for candidates in the Republican primary to run for Colorado Secretary of State–and if you’re in that minority of Colorado Republicans who doesn’t want the 2022 election to be a rehash of the 2020 presidential elections, which might incline you to support ex-Jeffco Clerk Pam Anderson, we’ve got bad news for you:

Republican ex-Jeffco Clerk Pam Anderson.

Pam Anderson is basically broke, with a shockingly low $5,665 balance of cash on hand at the end of the reporting period last week. To put these numbers in some perspective, Rep. Ron Hanks, who has been dismissed by some for his supposed inability to raise money, has almost three times Anderson’s cash on hand according to his latest report. Anderson’s principal opponent Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has not yet reported her fundraising haul, but the national attention Peters is receiving as a central player in the “dead-ender” plot to restore Donald Trump to the presidency–for which she may end up in jail for a very long time–could mean she’s been raising a lot of money these past few months. We’ll be watching closely for Peters’ report to be submitted.

As for Anderson, this surprisingly anemic fundraising is just more evidence that she is a candidate without a constituency–at least without a majority coalition she would need to actually be competitive against her incumbent opponent Jena Griswold, who posted a massive $850,000 haul for the same period and ended the same period with $300,000 on hand. There’s simply no good reason for Colorado voters to hand the state’s election system over to Donald Trump’s party, no matter how many times Anderson insists that (R) after her name is not what it looks like. Absent a major turnaround that we don’t see any impetus for, Anderson is setting up to be an honorable placeholder who saves Colorado Republicans from further embarrassment in a race that’s off the table.

Or, Anderson actually loses to Tina Peters. It’s time to starting planning for the worst.

Recall Polis People Ask for More Time to Fail

When last we caught up with efforts to “recall” Governor Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, the crack grassroots organization pushed by right-wing activist Lori Cutunilli was trying to entice people into the depths of an underground parking garage with vague promises of booting one or more statewide elected Democratic officials out of office.

We’re checking back on the subject now because it has been 60 days since the “Recall Polis-Griswold” group began gathering petition signatures for the latest iteration of this particular lost cause. Today, April 25, the “Recall Polis-Griswold” committee was supposed to officially submit a minimum of 630,000 petition signatures in order to trigger a recall election for Polis and/or Griswold. Based on the following message posted to Facebook today by Cutunilli, it seems unlikely that anyone will be marching into the Secretary of State’s office with anything other than lost time.

Recall Polis-Griswold update posted to Facebook today.

 

We’re not sure exactly how long of an extension the “Recall Polis-Griswold” committee requested, but the details aren’t particularly important. Whether they are seeking another 60 or 90 days, they’re never going to come up with enough signatures to get an actual recall election underway before our regularly-scheduled 2022 election takes place.

For now, Cutunilli and friends might just have to hope that Polis and Griswold get re-elected in November, which would give them four more years to keep this nonsense train rolling.

The GMS Podcast: The Worst Campaigns (feat. Charles Ashby)

This week in episode 101 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the worst statewide campaigns in Colorado over the last 20 years. Could any of the 2022 campaigns join this list?

We ask that same question of three-time returning guest Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, who also stops by to catch us up on the bizarre saga of embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. Ashby walks us through Peters’ various legal challenges, as well as her experience having spent one night in jail (did she have a pillow to herself?)

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

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Matt Soper Shows Again Why Trump’s GOP Can’t Be Fixed

Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta)

Colorado Public Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports on Senate Bill 22-153, legislation supported by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to emplace additional internal safeguards to help prevent the kinds of election security breaches allegedly committed by Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and Elbert County Clerk Dallas “Even More Based Than Ricky” Schroeder. Peters is getting by far the most attention after the election system data she stole was leaked to far-right conspiracy theorists, resulting in none of the hoped-for evidence that the 2020 election was stolen but creating a whole new security problem in the process.

Republican Matt Crane of the Colorado Country Clerks Association sums up Peters’ problem as a combination of ignorance “low information” and exploitation by “bad actors,” which we take to mean everyone from Donald Trump down to local agitators who encouraged Peters to break the law on a supposed higher mission:

“I think what we saw in Mesa County was a low-information clerk, which made her susceptible to grifters and bad actors,” said Crane. Peters did not have experience in elections administration before being elected clerk in 2018.

The county clerks “overwhelmingly” support the new bill to beef up election security from insider threats, says Crane, another sign that despite a whisper campaign of dissent against Jena Griswold since her election in 2018 she remains fully capable of leading and uniting the state’s elections officials in both parties. Despite this, partisan Republicans are mobilizing against the bill via their usual unabashed Griswold demonization, after which we expect they’ll wonder guilelessly again why Griswold keeps getting death threats:

“Jena Griswold not only wants to be the Secretary of State; she wants to become judge and jury as well. The extreme portions of this bill are a transparent attempt to stoke fear and distrust in local elections and center all the power with Jena — all without checks or balances,” said GOP State Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown…

It takes a quantity of gall we do not possess for the chair of the Colorado Republican Party to accuse Democrats (or anyone else) of stoking “fear and distrust in local elections.” Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 president election has accomplished more to “stoke fear and distrust” in elections than any event in modern American history. The psychological projection at work in this statement is so astoundingly perfect that it’s a struggle to respond–and that’s no accident.

That’s how “Big Lies” work.

And if that’s not bad enough, here’s Clerk Peters’ own Rep. Matt Soper kicking the Orwellian doublespeak into overdrive:

“Seeing a bill like this being run immediately, in response to what happened in Mesa County, is troubling,” [Pols emphasis] said Republican Rep. Matt Soper, who represents most of the county in the House. “Quite frankly (it) angers me because I don’t think we ought to be writing legislation for just one particular element that has occurred out in society, knowing that the law that’s currently on the books has been playing out.”

Soper said he’s open to voting for the bill, if it’s amended to address some of his concerns. But he also noted that it’s hard for Republicans to embrace a proposal when Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold is championing it.

“She’s made the office incredibly partisan, and it didn’t have to be that way,” he said. [Pols emphasis] “It makes the politics around this very difficult to vote for, even if reading through the bill there’s a lot of things that Republicans and Democrats could agree with here.”

As we know from the case proceeding against Elbert County’s similarly deluded clerk Dallas Schroeder, this bill is not just in response to “what happened in Mesa County.” The “one particular element” in society responsible for the continued spread of the “Big Lie” that Donald Trump should still be President constitutes a majority of Soper’s own party. As for the allegation that SoS Griswold has “made the office incredibly partisan,” that’s probably due to the fact that Griswold has spent three years on the front lines of the greatest assault on American democracy in our lifetimes, and it’s one side waging the assault.

Matt Soper’s side. Soper himself joined in the Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theorizing while venting about losses in Grand Junction city elections. There’s no nice way to say this: Soper has become of the “bad actors” fellow Republican Matt Crane is talking about. And by attacking Griswold instead of the true bad actors in their own party, all of these Republicans from Kristi Burton Brown to SoS candidate Pam Anderson discredit themselves with general election voters.

Rarely in history have so many discredited people refused to just stop talking.

The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 100!!!

This week in episode 100 — yes, 100 — of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with two different guests about two very important subjects related to Colorado politics.

First, we chat with Skyler McKinley of AAA Colorado to get the real story on how and why gas prices are rising…and how it has nothing to do with politicians in either party.

Later, Andrew Baumann of Global Strategy Group walks us through the latest numbers from the “Mountaineer” polling project. Why is little-known Republican Danielle Neuschwanger polling better than Hiedi Heidi Ganahl in the GOP race for governor? Baumann also explains how the “crimenado” narrative is less perilous to Democrats than you might think, as well as the problems with Colorado Republicans continuing to attach themselves to former President Donald Trump.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

MyPillow CEO Defends Indicted Colorado Clerk: “Charges Trumped-Up to Cover up Real Crime of 2020 Election Rigging”

(Will MyPillow Guy pawn a plane for Peters? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Earlier today a Mesa County grand jury indicted Clerk Tina Peters on ten felony and misdemeanor charges relating to the leaking of secure election data, but that hasn’t dissuaded MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell from supporting her. Lindell says he still endorses Peters and that he will “one hundred percent” campaign for her in Colorado, saying “the people want Tina Peters! I’ll be out there sooner rather than later.” Asked by the Colorado Times Recorder if he planned to help Peters post the $500,000 cash-only bond, Lindell said he couldn’t say as he was only just learning about it, but mused that the judge who set the bond amount “is probably crooked.”

Peters faces up to nearly three decades behind bars, but Lindell says it’s all a cover-up.

“Tina Peters was indicted on a bunch of trumped-up charges to cover up the real crimes done by Jena Griswold and Dominion against the people of Colorado and the nation,” says Lindell. “Jena Griswold and Dominion deleted the 2020 election and the election in 2021. It’s called election-deflection. It’s a joke. You’re going to see Jena Griswold and Dominion end up in prison. Read the second report. It has all the evidence that they deleted the 2020 election.”

The “second report” Lindell mentions is an already debunked document produced by Peters’ legal team that alleges various security vulnerabilities in the old Mesa County election machines.

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The GMS Podcast: SOS Jena Griswold Gets More Smarter

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

This week in episode 99 of the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold about election security; running for re-election; and potentially facing off against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters in November.

Later in the show, we discuss the Republican fascination with Russian President Vladimir Putin and consider whether the GOP is jumping the sharkcrimenado. We also examine more red on red political battles in Colorado (sorry, Hugh McKean) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl’s decision to move ever rightward.

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher |

It Is To Laugh: Recall Polis 4.0 (Maybe) Collecting Signatures

The sad end of “Recall Polis 1.0.”

Practically from the moment Gov. Jared Polis was elected in 2018, Republicans in the state have been trying to recall him. Immediately following the 2019 legislative session, the first Recall Polis campaign–actually several competing and mutually distrustful campaigns of which one eventually emerged to collect signatures–launched their 60-day window to collect the over 630,000 valid Colorado voters signatures required to qualify a recall question for the statewide ballot. That campaign never turned in their petitions to verify the signatures but only claimed to have gathered around 300,000–less than half what was required, even without the “padding” necessary to withstand validity checks.

The Recall Polis movement should have ended there, but it didn’t. In 2020, the “Recall Polis 2.0” (or Recall Polis 2020) campaign tried again and failed by an unverifiable but presumably even greater margin, lacking even the meager resources that the first attempt had. An unsuccessful court battle to extend their signature gathering time led to promises throughout most of 2021 of an imminent “Recall Polis 3.0” campaign, now expanded to two petitions calling for the recall of Gov. Polis as well as Secretary of State Jena Griswold. Given that the group hasn’t raised enough money to cover even printing petitions for one race, it wasn’t surprising that no campaign to collect signatures ever kicked off.

Until last week, gentle readers!

Over at the Recall Polis/Griswold 2022 website, the fundraising page to collect those welfare checks from patriotic invalids is live. The countdown for their 60-day window to collect a total of over 1.2 million valid Colorado voter signatures kicked off last Thursday, so it’s all hands on deck!

Back in 2019, there was a argument that although having zero chance of success, a petition drive to recall Gov. Polis could be a useful activity to keep the conservative base organized ahead of Polis’ next election. Instead, the humiliating failure of every single one of these campaigns helped discredit not just Polis’ opponents but the misuse of recall power in general that has plagued Colorado politics for almost a decade. In 2022, the year Polis is actually up for election, the “Recall Polis 4.0” petition drive is a laughably counterproductive diversion of resources away from what Republicans should always have been focused on: winning this November.

For the next 60 days, get ready for fake news about signatures the recall campaign isn’t really gathering, increasing tension as the realization of futility sets in, concluding in a sad little press conference that absolutely, positively refuses to accept defeat. No voters will be won over by this sloppy exercise, which will serve as a metaphor going into November for failure by Republicans to lay a glove on our state’s popular incumbent governor.

Democrats can only say thanks again.

Pam Anderson is No Tina Peters, Which Cuts Both Ways

“Peters has proven herself, with both her actions and her support of extremists, to be wholly unworthy of public trust and public office.”

     — The Denver Post (2/15/22)

Embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters announced on Monday that she is running for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State rather than seeking re-election in 2022.

On Tuesday, the editorial board of The Denver Post responded with a nearly-1,000 word blasting that could be summed up in two words: “HELL NAW.”

We should not be laughing at Tina Peters.

Yes, it’s hard. She was caught on video attempting to kick a police officer in a downtown Grand Junction bagel shop just days before she announced a run for secretary of state.

But Tina Peters is not funny. She’s dangerous.

Peters is part of a growing base of radicalized individuals attempting to undermine America’s democracy, tear apart our republic and destabilize our local, state, and federal governments. She attended a public event on Thursday night in Castle Rock where 9News reporter Marshall Zelinger captured on video an election conspiracy theorist making a direct threat to the current Colorado secretary of state – Peters’ opponent should she win the Republican nomination.

Tina Peters

We’ll quibble with one small part of this intro: We absolutely should be laughing at Tina Peters…just maybe in more of a nervous chuckle sort of way.

It is, of course, completely absurd that someone who is under investigation — by everyone from the local District Attorney to the FBI — for breaking into Mesa County’s election computers could possibly argue that they should be put in charge of elections for the entire State of Colorado. It is equally ridiculous that the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate could be a guy in Ron Hanks who says openly that Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 Presidential election, but here we are.

The less-crazy wing of the Colorado Republican Party is trying to promote former Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson as a rational alternative to incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold.

For her part, Anderson tried on Monday to make the argument that she should be trusted with the GOP nomination instead of Peters:

Anderson makes some valid arguments, but there may not be enough moderate Republicans left in Colorado who are willing to listen. Even if there were, it’s not at all clear that Anderson will be able to reach them before the June Primary Election.

When Peters announced her run for SOS on Monday, it was a national story picked up by the likes of CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, and many others. When Anderson took to Twitter for her response, she was met with this:

Ooof. Tina Peters makes national headlines by being Tina Peters. Local reporters, meanwhile, don’t even know how to reach Pam Anderson, which is not a good sign for her fledgling campaign.

For years, Republicans tried to convince Anderson to take a shot at higher office to no avail. Anderson may have picked the wrong year, and the wrong political party, in which to finally make that leap.

Tina Peters Running for Secretary of State

Tina Peters is…inevitable.

As Kyle Clark reports for 9News, — confirmed by Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel — the moment you knew was eventually coming has arrived: Embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters has announced that she will seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State (SOS) instead of running for re-election in 2022.

This news is a bit of a surprise in that Peters had previously said that she would not run for SOS, though this is also a move that she has hinted toward in the past. What changed in recent days/weeks is probably that Peters continues to find herself in all sorts of legal trouble related to her efforts last year to break into her own voting systems in order to prove some sort of 2020 election fraud.

Because of both her growing legal problems and her rising fame among the right-wing base of Republicans in Colorado, a Peters run for SOS always felt inescapable. Peters is a devout follower of Donald Trump, who ran for President in 2016 at least in part to help shield himself from his own legal woes. There is a certain sort of twisted logic to running for higher office in the hope that increasing your public profile makes investigators more reluctant to keep digging into your history; don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a significant factor in Peters’ decision.

Peters is also feeling the love in her own little bubble. She showed up last week to an FEC United event in Castle Rock, Colorado where speakers were quite literally calling for the hanging of elected officials such as Democratic SOS Jena Griswold. She was greeted there as a conquering hero rather than a bumbling criminal:

Good luck getting away from Peters now!

The decision by Peters to run for SOS is, to put it lightly, problematic for the Colorado Republican Party. With Peters in the race, it’s much more difficult for the likes of gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl to get distance from her shenanigans, which undoubtedly do not play well with average voters. Every Republican candidate for every office in Colorado is now going to get asked about whether or not they support Peters and her run for SOS; if you want to win a Republican Primary without crippling your changes in a General Election, there’s no great answer here.

The Peters’ candidacy is also a donkey kick to Republican efforts to win back the SOS office in 2022. The GOP found a “good on paper” candidate in former Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder Pam Anderson, but Anderson’s public acceptance of — you know — reality puts her at odds with the GOP base that will be voting in a June Primary Election. In this environment, Peters is immediately the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination in 2022, and the circus she brings along with her will be helpful to other conspiracy-minded candidates such as Senate candidate Ron Hanks.

Republicans did this to themselves by playing footsie with election fraud conspiracies and the people who promote them. Tina Peters for SOS was sadly…inevitable.

New “Big Line: 2022” Updates

With all of the fundraising reports from 2021 now available, we took a moment to make some adjustments to The Big Line: 2022. Here’s a brief synopsis of what changed (and what didn’t):

 

U.S. SENATE

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet remains the clear favorite here, so the only movement is on the Republican side. You can argue whether or not State Rep. Ron Hanks is a clear threat to Bennet given his fundraising troubles, but Hanks is following the same script that won Darryl Glenn the GOP Senate nomination in 2016. Gino Campana and Joe O’Dea look to have the most resources of all the Republican candidates, which puts them in the best position to attract undecided voters in June.

Eli Bremer and Deborah Flora drop into a lower tier after last week’s Senate debate in Lakewood showed that they don’t have anything interesting to say nor a clear strategy moving forward. Hanks, Campana, Bremer, and Flora are all going the State Assembly route for ballot access; there’s probably only room for two of them.

 

GOVERNOR

No real movement here. Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is still Hiedi Heidi Ganahl.

 

CO-03

This race will likely be decided in the June Republican Primary between Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and State Sen. Don Coram. Democrat Don Valdez has seen his fundraising numbers drop off significantly, while Sol Sandoval continues to spend as much money as she brings in to her campaign; both Democrats are just treading water at this point.

 

CO-07

Brittany Pettersen has cleared the Democratic field and is well-positioned to win this race. On the Republican side, State Rep. Colin Larson is probably not running, but some big Trump donor named Timothy Reichert has stepped into the fray.

 

CO-08

While the race in CO-07 seems to be getting clearer, the opposite is taking place in Colorado’s newest congressional district. Fundraising numbers for the top five hopefuls were pretty similar at the end of 2021. Both the Democratic and Republican Primaries are shaping up to be close fights. Keep an eye on Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine; if she can maintain her fundraising efforts, she’ll be in good shape to bring home the right-wing base in June. 

 

Election Hardware Tampering: Not Just Mesa County Anymore!

Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder (R).

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, we have a second admitted case now of a Republican Colorado county clerk tampering with election system hardware manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems as part of the never-ending fruitless quest to prove the conclusion they have already reached and are working back from by any means necessary: that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office is investigating a second county clerk over a possible elections security breach and has ordered Elbert County Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder to turn over information related to allegations that he copied a voting system hard drive.

The Democratic secretary of state ordered the Republican county clerk to appear at a deposition Feb. 7 to explain how the copy of the 2021 Dominion Voting Systems hard drive was made after Griswold’s office said Schroeder did not respond to an email request and an election order requiring the disclosure of information about the “potential security protocol breach.” She also asked that video surveillance of voting equipment be turned on and that no one access the voting equipment unaccompanied…

Just like the case of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder is freely admitting to the substance of what he’s accused of: that he bypassed security in place around Dominion Voting Systems hardware in his custody to make an unauthorized copy of the operating system:

Schroeder is part of a lawsuit against Griswold’s office calling for an “independent forensic audit” of the 2020 election, a common refrain for those pushing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. As part of the filings, the secretary of state’s office said Schroeder signed an affidavit, dated Jan. 7, which states that he “made a forensic image of everything on the election server, and I saved the image to a secure external hard drive that is kept under lock and key in the Elbert County elections office” before the “trusted build” process took place.

Unlike in Mesa County, where the disk images Peters either stole herself or allowed to be made during unauthorized access to the machines, it doesn’t appear that Schroeder has distributed the data to the nether reaches of the online conspiracy theory world including the rumored instigator of the “QAnon” movement. Clerk Schroeder in Elbert County apparently created an unauthorized copy of the data for some kind of future investigation, presumably similar to the one the same conspiracy theorists who prevailed on Clerk Peters wanted to conduct.

But as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, you can’t do that either:

“Colorado county clerks are required by law to follow election rules,” said Annie Orloff, a spokeswoman for Griswold. “There are security protocols that need to be followed, such as who has access to voting equipment, prohibition in using an unauthorized USB or other devices, prohibition of breaking seals on the voting equipment without logging, among other things.” [Pols emphasis]

As was the case with Clerk Peters in Mesa County, the only security deficiency that has been uncovered here was due to the actions of the clerks themselves. The act of breaking seals, powering up devices ad hoc, and connecting non-approved storage peripherals to copy data introduces massive holes in the security protecting those machines that, as was the case in Mesa County, ultimately meant they could no longer be trusted and had to be replaced. The half-baked “report” prepared by individuals with access to the election data purloined from Mesa County makes it obvious that these armchair investigators don’t even know what they’re looking at, let alone able to discern from what was stolen evidence of election fraud. And if as a sworn election official elected by the public you have legitimate concerns of this kind, there are channels for voicing them that do not require tampering with election equipment yourself.

You might think that for anyone with the responsibility of a county clerk, this should be obvious. We’re happy to report that in 62 of Colorado’s 64 counties, so far it is. But at least two of those county clerks, we now know, should probably not be allowed near any trusted institution including our election system again.

CSP Needs To Protect Secretary of State Griswold Right Now

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D).

Despite any evidence having emerged after a year of counts, recounts, audits, and endless second-guessing both with and without a clue that the 2020 presidential election was not legitimately won by Joe Biden, as readers know a large percentage of Republican Party rank-and-file have now accepted this falsehood as truth–and will most likely go to their graves believing that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat has significantly destabilized American politics going into the 2022 midterm elections, with some 21 million Americans according to polls ready to dump our nation’s democratic experiment entirely and restore Trump to the White House by force.

Here in Colorado, Trump loyalist Republicans have faced a major obstacle in the form of Republican county clerks who have, with a glaring exception, pushed back as hard as they felt safe on the stolen election narrative, knowing from their own experience that Trump’s unhinged conspiracy theories had no factual basis. But with a majority of Republican base voters convinced to an article of faith that the election was stolen, Republicans who argue against this dominant narrative are called “Republicans in Name Only” or worse. In Mesa County, where technologically clueless Clerk Tina Peters allowed only slightly less clueless conspiracy theorists to breach security in a fruitless attempt to confirm their own biases, even lifelong conservative Republicans not on board with the stolen election narrative are on the receiving end of increasingly violent threats.

So it should come as no surprise, as the Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul reports, that threats against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold have escalated to alarming levels:

“I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP,” one person wrote in an online message. “I SEE YOU SLEEPING. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.”

“I hope you die.”

The vitriol has reached the point that the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is asking state lawmakers for help. The office is seeking a new annual appropriation of about $200,000 to “address election-related security concerns” stemming from the threats, many of which originated with people who believe baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Griswold’s profile has risen in recent months as she has appeared on national television to lambaste GOP efforts to question the nation’s voting systems and the 2020 presidential election results. She’s also been at the center of a feud with Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican who has spread baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election being stolen and who is under federal, state and local criminal investigation for her alleged role in a breach of her county’s election system.

Because Colorado leads the nation with our accessible and secure election system, utilizing basically every innovation that Trump baselessly cited as evidence the election was stolen, Secretary of State Griswold’s high profile has been absolutely necessary in order to combat the avalanche of misinformation initiated by Trump’s campaign to sow doubt in the 2020 elections. Griswold has been forced to correct Trump’s misinformation repeatedly precisely because Colorado is the model: a mail ballot state which has successfully carried out numerous elections on Dominion Voting Systems hardware. Our success disproves the “Big Lie” more powerfully and succinctly than anything else can.

There’s nothing coming to upend this debate on the side of the conspiracy theorists. From the fruitless legal battle to the Arizona “audit” that widened Biden’s margin of victory and including the breach of security in Mesa County that exposed only the ignorance of the perpetrators, this question is resolved for everyone still receptive to factual information. Faced with this crushing reality, unfortunately, it appears that the percentage of the GOP who wants violence to restore Trump to office only want it more.

In this volatile environment, the idea that we would not provide the state’s top election official every bit as much protection as Gov. Jared Polis himself receives is what sounds crazy. These are not only threats to Jena Griswold but to our entire democratic process. If you’re a Republican who does not want to be associated with threats of violence from fellow Republicans, it’s past time to speak out.

Former Colo GOP Legislator And Insurrectionist Lawyer Eastman Discussed Dems ‘Rigging’ Elections With Judges’ Help

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a June interview with insurrectionist and former University of Colorado professor John Eastman, former Colorado state legislator Matt Knoedler claimed that the election fraud conspiracy lawsuits Eastman was filing on behalf of President Trump were the same “kinds of legal battles” that Republicans in Colorado have been challenging for decades.

Knoedler, who is the founder of Caucus Room, a private social media site for conservatives, also accused Colorado Supreme Court justices of aiding Democrats. Video of their discussion, which took place on Knoedler’s site, was obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder.

“Professor, I know you’ve got some connections here in Colorado,” said Knoedler. “And just for background, I was a former legislator here in the state. And in the years since the Democrats began controlling the state Supreme Court here in Colorado, we’ve learned that we have to win an election by a couple of touchdowns in order to, you know, dispense with the legal battle because we seem to lose every one.

“And I tell you that a lot of these things that you all were challenging were the kinds of legal battles I know that my legal friends here in the state have challenged for a couple of decades now. And it seems that the cases always go the way that the other side was asking for.”

Via email, Knoedler says his comparison of Eastman’s lawsuits and previous Republican election-related challenges in Colorado were based upon a particular nuance of legal terminology:

“I believe I was referring to Colorado’s legal precedent of ‘substantial compliance,’ which replaces “strict compliance” standards for election laws, and provides courts with the flexibility to ignore violations of an election law that it considers inconsequential to the overarching right to vote,” says Knoedler. “I was struck that under such a flexible standard, any possible election law violation provides a left-leaning court with a ‘heads-you-lose, tails-we-win’ capacity to decide cases in favor of the Dems.”

Knoedler’s full response is included at the end of this article. He did not respond to a follow-up email asking simply if he believes the 2020 election results are legitimate.

Eastman responded by joking, “But wait! I thought Colorado [election law and administration] was the gold standard?” The lawyer then offered incorrect information about those same two subjects.

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Polis/Griswold Recall Update: A Whole Lot of Sad

We’ve been doing our best to keep an eye on the latest efforts by right-wing grifters to “recall” Gov. Jared Polis and/or Secretary of State Jena Griswold. When last we checked — on August 31 — “lead organizer” Lori Cutunilli was promising the Facebook faithful that recall petitions were just a few weeks away from circulation!

However, Recallpalooza seemed to be gasping for air by the time California Gov. Gavin Newsom easily turned back an attempt to oust him from office in September. According to the latest campaign finance report for the “Recall Polis – Griswold 2021” committee, momentum remains elusive:

 

You’re reading that correctly. The recall committee raised $12 in the last month — all of which came from Cutunilli herself. Things are so bad, in fact, that they would need to raise $1,307 just to be able to report that they have no money.

The grift may be strong among Colorado Republicans, but it is apparently not without end.

CO County Clerk Speaks at QAnon-Linked Election Conspiracy Conference

(You’re damn right I’m guilty! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, banned from administering next week’s election, found the time last week to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to speak at a QAnon-linked conference.

In her speech, Peters claimed without evidence that her deputy clerk Belinda Knisley, currently facing felony burglary and misdemeanor cybercrime charges, had been “framed.”

“Since I came forward with this evidence, the political establishment on both sides of the aisle had been in high gear to demonize me and all my staff and to delegitimize the findings of the investigation,” said Peters. “My office has been raided. There have been threats on my life. My staff, whom I love, have been harassed and put on leave. In the case of my deputy clerk, she was framed and charged with felonies and unrelated crimes, I believe to relieve her from serving in my stead.”

In addition to Peters, numerous conspiracists, including prominent QAnon promoters Anne Vandersteel and former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, spoke at the event, called the “Western Conservative Action Network” Conference. Headliner Flynn openly promotes QAnon, selling merchandise and posting video of he and his family taking the “Digital Soldier Oath.” Colorado politicos will recognize Vandersteel as the online host who first asked U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo) about QAnon, prompting the congresswoman to say she hopes it “is real.”

Reached for comment on Peters’ claim that Knisley was framed, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein noted that he can’t make extrajudicial comments on a pending case, but suggested that Knisley’s attorney, not Peters, be Knisley’s spokesperson on any defenses she may have.

Sworn testimony contained in Knisley’s arrest affidavit asserts that she was caught attempting to print files from Clerk Peters’ computer after re-entering the county office despite having been suspended from her job and told not to be on the premises nor conduct any county work.

Peters also accused Dominion Voting Systems of conspiring with the secretary of state to delete files from the county election machines, presumably to destroy evidence of election fraud, something she later described as “one of if not the worst crime in America.” Peters waved a stack of papers she says is an 80-page report of the files she claims were deleted.

The “report,” compiled by the election conspiracy group U.S. Election Integrity Project (USEIP), is an inscrutable list of computer files that doesn’t distinguish between election software files and routine updates of a computer’s operating system.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 15)

Have you voted yet? Visit GoVoteColorado.com to check on the status of your mail ballot for 2021. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

We’re just going to say it: Republican gubernatorial candidate Hiedi Heidi Ganahl is running the worst gubernatorial campaign in the entire country. Ganahl has officially been in the 2022 race for about a month…and it’s already time to start the campaign death watch.

Ganahl started the week by hosting an ill-advised forum with right-wing lunatic Dennis Prager, in which her campaign embarrassingly misspelled her first name for people interested in calling in with questions. On Wednesday, her campaign announced anemic fundraising numbers for someone who is supposed to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. And on Thursday, news broke that Ganahl’s campaign manager is leaving the campaign after only a month on the job, which is not something that you can even attempt to legitimately spin as being okay.

This is basically what Ganahl’s campaign looks like at the moment:

 

 

A defamation lawsuit filed by a former employee of Dominion Voting Services in Denver is basically de-pantsing “The Big Lie.” For more on this story, check out Axios Denver, The Colorado Sun, Colorado Public Radio, and 9News, among others.

 

If you’re interested in running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado, you had better hurry up. Pretty much every Republican with a heartbeat is jumping into the field. Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has more on the seventh Republican now running for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

 

The Department of Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case of a controversial new abortion law in Texas. From The Associated Press:

The Biden administration said Friday it will turn next to the U.S. Supreme Court in another attempt to halt a Texas law that has banned most abortions since September.

It comes as the Texas clinics are running out of avenues to stop the GOP-engineered law that bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks. It amounts to the nation’s biggest curb to abortion in nearly 50 years.

The latest defeat for clinics came Thursday night when a federal appeals panel in New Orleans, in a 2-1 decision, allowed the restrictions to remain in place for a third time in the last several weeks alone.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said the federal government will now ask the Supreme Court to reverse that decision but did not say how quickly.

 

 Check out these 2021 voter guides from Colorado Newsline and The Denver Post.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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Diary of a Bonkers Press Conference in Mesa County

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and right-wing activist person Sheronna Bishop (who was also Lauren Boebert’s 2020 campaign manager) stood in front of the steps of the Mesa County Courthouse on Monday morning for a “press conference” to explain more about why Peters shouldn’t have to worry about being under investigation by four different agencies, including the FBI.

Someone with the Mesa County Democratic Party was on hand to provide video of this absolutely bonkers event. It was so incredibly strange, in fact, that we felt compelled to memorialize the event in a diary format.

Watch the event yourself, or click below to follow along with our event diary, which includes an allegation of assault (which clearly didn’t happen) and multiple extended rants against Charles Ashby of The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

[*Note: The original video was converted from a vertical format to a horizontal format for easier viewing. The times listed here are from the video.]

 

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Don’t Do It, Lang!

Lang Sias (right) with GOP gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton in July 2018.

Colorado Republicans are having a difficult time finding candidates willing to run for statewide office in 2022. Since the GOP can’t manage to find anyone new who is willing to embrace the base and turn off everyone else, they are now looking at ways to recycle.

We’re just 14 months away from the 2022 election, and Republicans still need candidates for Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State. As we’ve said many times in this space, the Republican bench in Colorado is a phone booth after two massive Democratic wave years that saw topline candidates pummeled by an average of 10 points. The candidates that Republicans DO have are a disaster, which certainly doesn’t help recruitment efforts; we wouldn’t want to share a ticket with Heidi Ganahl and Eli Bremer, either.

There haven’t been many rumors of potential candidates for Attorney General, where incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser has already raised more than $1.7 million for his re-election campaign. Republicans thought they had a candidate for Secretary of State (SOS) in former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, but she decided against a run in part because of the Tina Peters disaster. Term-limited Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Meyers is now rumored to be looking at challenging incumbent Democrat Jena Griswold, assuming Peters doesn’t run herself.

That leaves us with the office of State Treasurer, where the GOP is apparently going back to a well that has already turned up dry multiple times. That’s right, friends: Lang Sias still isn’t done getting kicked in the face by Colorado voters.

If you’re not familiar with Sias, that’s probably because he hasn’t had much success in Colorado politics. The 2020 election marked the first time in a decade that Sias was not a candidate for public office.

Sias has sought elected office in Colorado five times for four different seats. His only November victory came in 2016, when he was an “incumbent” State Representative by virtue of having been selected by a Republican vacancy committee a year earlier. Since 2010, Sias has lost races for State Senate (twice), Congress, and Lieutenant Governor; he didn’t even make it past the Primary Election in half of those contests.

The beatings will continue until Lang Sias improves.

 

So why would Sias return to the political stage in 2022? Because he…can? Honestly, we have no idea.

There are certainly some Republican political consultants who are telling Sias that he can totally beat Democratic incumbent Dave Young, which might be music to Lang’s ambitious ears. Of course, some of those consultants are probably the same people who told Sias that he could be a State Senator or a Congressman (they are also the same people who will read this and tell Sias that “Democrats are afraid of you,” as though anyone would be scared of a candidate with his track record of failure).

By most accounts, Sias seems to be a likable guy with big dreams but limited charisma who is more interesting to Republican power brokers than he is to Colorado voters. If Sias runs for Treasurer and can avoid a Republican Primary, maybe he can change his political fortunes. History would suggest otherwise.

We’re all guilty, from time to time, of listening to what we WANT to hear at the expense of what we NEED to hear. In Sias’ case, what he needs to hear is this: Maybe you should try something else.

Meritless Defense: “Honey Badger” Can’t Save Tina Peters

Heidi Ganahl and Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters.

We’ve been holding our peace over the past few days as the “defense” of embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters against allegations that she allowed unauthorized access and the subsequent public leaking of proprietary election system data has taken shape. Represented by former Secretary of State and discredited election conspiracy theorist in his own right Scott “Honey Badger” Gessler, Peters is arguing she should not be stripped of her election supervisory duties owing to Peters’ supposedly good intentions. The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports:

Last week, Peters — who had been out of the state for more than a month and has become popular among 2020 election conspiracy theorists — responded to the lawsuit by providing to commissioners and the court a report that alleges wrongdoing by the secretary of state’s office and says that a state upgrade wiped out election records that elections officials are required to keep…

Peters’ attorney, former Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler, acknowledged in a Sept. 17 legal filing that there was an “unauthorized release of information on one or more publicly available web sites,” [Pols emphasis] but said the actions by Griswold and the county commissioners to remove Peters and Knisley were “wholly disproportionate and directly violate Colorado law.”

Gessler also wrote that Peters “suspected that the Secretary’s trusted build process (annual system update) wiped out election records that she is required to preserve under Colorado law.” So Peters had a consultant copy the hard drive of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment and commissioned the report “which appears to validate (Peters’) suspicions,” Gessler wrote.

Scott Gessler.

In her response filing yesterday, Secretary of State Jena Griswold effectively shredded these convoluted misinformed arguments, explaining how they betray basically total ignorance of how these systems work. CBS4’s Jennifer McRae:

The brief also states that “there is nothing further from the truth” in regards to Peters’ false claims about the destruction of election records during the routine trusted build. Election records are required to be maintained by county clerks for up to 25 months.

Griswold cited the Colorado Election Code and referenced that election records “include items such as: accounting forms, certificates of registration, pollbooks, certificates of election, signature cards, all affidavits, voter applications, other voter lists and records, mail ballot return envelopes, voted ballots, unused ballots, spoiled ballots, and replacement ballots. None of these items were named in the “report” produced by Peters.”

“The Secretary would have no objection to a county backing up its log files for its voting systems—in fact, Larimer County requested to backup their log files prior to a trusted build, and the Department of State helped Larimer County perform such a backup,” the brief states. “Instead, Peters made copies of the entire hard drive, exposing the security of the entire election system when those copies were posted on the Internet.” [Pols emphasis]

Again, the idea that the proper procedure for Clerk Peters to follow if she suspected some kind of illegal act was to commit another crime is so ridiculous it’s embarrassing to anyone making the argument. Helping uncredentialed unqualified conspiracy theorists steal secure data and then going on the lam for a month instead of cooperating with the investigation is not how legitimate whistleblowers call out problems. The so-called “forensic examination” conducted on Peters’ behalf doesn’t appear to take into account what data is legally required to be preserved, and they don’t know enough about the data they were improperly allowed to access to assess the significance (if any) of files being updated or deleted in a system update. And at no point are they able to demonstrate even hypothetically how any of this adds up to changing the results of an election.

In short, Peters’ response is an epic pile of hopelessly uninformed nonsense–just like Gessler’s garbage legal brief for Donald Trump suggesting the presidential election in Nevada was stolen, and just like Gessler’s fruitless failed quest to uncover “tens of thousands of illegal voters” that landed his political career on the rocks back in 2014. Even the all-GOP Mesa County commissioners acknowledged that the Secretary of State has the power to relieve Clerk Peters of her election responsibilities. It’s a completely meritless defense, and we’re awaiting only the judge’s ruling saying so.

And then at some point after that, hopefully soon, criminal charges.

Death Threats Against Jena Griswold: You Already Know Why

Fact-deprived conspiracy theorists and the armed activists who love them continue to insist without evidence that the 2020 elections were stolen from Donald Trump, the fervent belief in which pushing a small but troublingly well-armed and vociferous segment of the population toward what they tell us could be another civil war. The failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th resulted in a temporary realignment of some Republicans away from Trump and the subversive conspiracy theories underpinning continued resistance to Trump’s defeat, but that proved to be only temporary–GOP congressional leadership soon came crawling back as it became clear that the Republican rank and file were unshakably loyal to Trump.

Today, across the country “dead-ender” supporters of Trump are still agitating without evidence that the election was stolen, though attempts to prove that to anyone outside their own self-reinforcing circle of misinformation have fallen apart. But as Denver7’s Sloan Dickey reports, for those already convinced that what they want to believe is true, there’s no need to wait any longer to start making death threats:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office shared some of those threats with Denver7. The comments were posted to [SoS Jena] Griswold’s personal and public social media accounts and sent in direct messages. The messages make direct and gruesome threats against her life.

“I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP, I SEE YOU SLEEPING. BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID. I hope you die,” one message said.

“Everyone knows… there are people looking for you,” another said.

Thousands more posts and threats, many with unrepeatable vulgarity, have filled her online accounts over the past year. She says the threats come as she works to increase access to voting and election security in Colorado.

In Mesa County, where Republican elected officials have been threatened with civil war over public health measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently pilloried for purchasing new election equipment from the same Dominion Voting Systems at the center of the most prevalent conspiracy theories about 2020, the rhetoric hasn’t gotten as personal. Given the vitriol fellow Republicans in Mesa County have contended with for months from their own putative base, it’s not hard to understand how Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State would be targeted with much, much worse.

While in the end you can’t call these grotesque threats against Secretary of State Griswold a surprise, it’s our sincere hope that they’re dealt with as rigorously as the law allows. With the scandal over Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ allegedly criminal actions trying and failing to prove the “Big Lie” dominating the headlines, we feel there’s a need for the public to understand what’s happening to Secretary of State Griswold as a byproduct of the same pressure.

There’s no excuse for any of it, and Republicans have the primary obligation to stand up against it.