Mesa County Commissioners Have Got A Lot Of Nerve

Clockwise from bottom left: Scott McInnis, Cody Davis, Janet Rowland, and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters.

Colorado Public Radio reporters Megan Verlee and Bente Birkeland have the latest on the continuing election equipment security breach scandal in Mesa County, where Clerk Tina Peters is under both local and FBI investigation after passwords and data from election systems was stolen and leaked to far-right conspiracy theorists, in a fruitless attempt to uncover supposed election fraud:

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Peters will be barred from overseeing the election, due to evidence that she facilitated a major security breach in her office. Peters is accused of helping unauthorized people copy the hard drives of sensitive election equipment and release that information on the internet.

Griswold named Mesa County’s former clerk Sheila Reiner — who is now the county treasurer — to step in for the next election. To assist Reiner, Griswold named an advisory panel that includes state Rep. Janice Rich, who is also a past Mesa County Clerk, former Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, and Ouray Clerk and Recorder Michelle Nauer.

Reiner and Rich are Republicans, Buescher is a Democrat, Nauer ran as a Republican but the Grand Junction Sentinel reports she recently switched to unaffiliated.

“The people of Mesa County deserve safe and secure elections. I am confident that with these appointments, voters in Mesa will be able to exercise their constitutional right to have their voices heard in our democracy,” said Griswold in a release announcing the appointment.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, “MyPillow Guy” Mike Lindell.

But as 9NEWS reports, all-GOP Mesa County Board of Commissioners is pushing back against Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s orders, and seeking to appoint none other than former Secretary of State Wayne Williams–who Griswold ousted from the job she holds today back in 2018:

Just after Griswold’s announcement, Mesa County commissioners began a meeting in which they discussed nominating a supervisor of their own.

“There’s an immediate need, in my opinion, an immediate need, to counter what the Secretary of State is doing. Our position is she is out of her lane, this is our territory, not her territory,” said Commissioner Scott McInnis (R).

The Mesa County Commissioners ultimately voted to have former Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who was defeated by Griswold in the 2018 election, run Mesa’s November 2021 election. Williams is currently a Colorado Springs City councilman.

That’s right–instead of allowing the Secretary of State to appoint the immediate past Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner, a widely-respected Republican official with a long history of integrity under fire from Republican election conspiracy theories, the Mesa County commissioners are choosing to undercut the Secretary of State and snub the clear best choice to oversee Mesa County elections–in favor of a much more overtly partisan Republican who lives 300 miles away and is already busy serving as a Colorado Springs city councilor.

It’s most likely going to come down to a court fight, and the Secretary of State insists she has the authority to appoint the replacement in addition to the authority everyone agrees she has to remove Clerk Peters from her election management responsibilities. Either way, it’s politically extremely risky for the Mesa County’s all-GOP commissioners to be pushing for what could easily be interpreted as a crony appointment over a highly qualified local they don’t happen to like as much. Whether they like it or not, Mesa County is now at the epicenter of a nationwide scandal involving fellow Republicans who refuse to accept that Donald Trump lost the election–and are now committing crimes of their own while trying and failing to prove it:

Peters’ appearance at Lindell’s event and the information she allowed to be leaked to other conspiracy theorists was intended to show that election equipment supplied and maintained by Dominion, which Mesa and most other Colorado counties use, are somehow faulty. Her evidence, however, offered no such proof.

If Cody Davis, Janet Rowland, and Scott McInnis don’t want themselves to be forever tainted by the crimes Tina Peters is alleged to have committed in pursuit of the “Big Lie,” we suggest a lot less territoriality and a lot more cooperation.

35 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. gertie97 says:

    Our lord high commissioners caved in to the mob. It's that simple. The last time Tina screwed up, the commissioners accepted the procedure the Secretary of State ordered.

    Williams told the GJ Sentinel that he's been retained by the commissioners. Williams has a glaring conflict of interest as a senior adviser to Runbeck Elections Systems of Phoenix, a competitor to Dominion Voting Systems.

    Mesa County uses Dominion, as do all but two Colorado counties.

    There's a front page picture in the Sentinel today showing a man handing out Peters' campaign signs to the mob filing in to the courthouse for the commissioners meeting.

    There isn't enough popcorn for this.

     

    • bullshit! says:

      FWIW Williams says Runbeck and Dominion are not competitors.

      But I also don't believe anything Wayne Williams says without a second source.

      • gertie97 says:

        I wouldn't either.

      • Sunmusing says:

        I had some email dealings with Wayne Williams about sending my voting information to the illegal voting commission early on in the trump years…He is a scumbag…period…he has been corrupted and is corrupt, and must not be involved in anyway, shape or form during this time…

      • Apolsongal says:

        This is actually accurate info.  Dominion provides an election management system (EMS) like ballot marking devices, ballot counters, adjudication, and tabulation.  Runbeck provides things like ballot envelope sorters and ballot printing services.  They are two different parts of an election.  As a matter of fact, Mesa uses a Runbeck envelope sorter as well as their ballot printing services since the mid 2010's.

        Source:  I was an employee and later director of the Mesa County elections division from 2011 to 2018.  I also started the recall against Tina in 2020.

  2. Sparky says:

    Take note of the likely end goal here: Not only do the Mesa Commissioners get to slap Griswold in the face, but they picked a guy who eagerly played along with Trump's election conspiracy theories.

  3. NOV GOP meltdown says:

    I don't know about you all, but I am SICK AND FUCKING TIRED of all of these fucking Trump people getting away with all of this shit.  Where the hell is the law ? Where are the goddamned consequences for this behavior ? 

    Is this going to last forever now ?  Are we a third world country with no rule of law anymore ? These people are running our proud country right into the ground in front of our eyes, and all we can do is watch.  It's so damn frustrating.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Simmer down NGM.  There are local and federal investigations underway as we type.  Somebody is going to have to answer some hard questions regarding who had unauthorized access to the Mesa County servers, why they were copied, what was done with the copies and how the passwords ended up on a far right-wing website.  Just because they aren't under arrest, it doesn't mean that they are getting away with subversion without consequences.  Justice requires precision.  Sloppy work gets thrown out.

      As far as the commissioners go, they still have to follow state law and run the risk of higher legal bills to defend their questionable decision and they are on the hook for new equipment.  This is the kind of showdown that if Griswold wins will boost her profile and re-election chances.  She is a quite capable person and probably knew the law and statutes before making her appointment.  At the very very least Peters is not in charge of Mesa County elections at this moment.

  4. Gilpin Guy says:

    Like Jan. 6th, there is enough evidence that this was a planned assault on the Mesa County election systems.

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    Anyone want to explain why the county commissioners feel they have the right to name an election officer? 

    State law appears to say "If a vacancy in the office of county clerk should occur by death, resignation, or otherwise, the board of county commissioners shall appoint some suitable person to fill such vacancy until a successor is elected according to law."  Unless I'm way behind, Tina Peters has not died, resigned "or otherwise" created a vacancy —

    State law also says "(2) All powers and authority granted to the county clerk and recorder by this code may be exercised by a deputy clerk in the absence of the county clerk and recorder or if the county clerk and recorder for any reason is unable to perform the required duties."  So, who is the deputy clerk in Mesa County?  And why hasn't Griswold OR the County Commissioners mentioned that position?

  6. Pedalman56 says:

    I too live in Mesa County. As a retired criminal defense lawyer I found it interesting to read Griswold's Election Order 2021-03 of August 17, 2021 in which she cites the statutes and rules governing her decision.

    I think it is also worth keeping in mind that we are talking about the appointment of an elections officer, not a county clerk. Also worth remembering that Griswold's order specifically forbids the participation of Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley and Sandra Brown in any election activities.  This likely does not end well for the Commissioners. And hopefully ends up with a harboring of a fugitive charge for the pillow guy.

  7. Sparky says:

    Western Colorado really just covering itself in glory this last nine months.

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