MONDAY UPDATE: As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:
The somewhat shadowy U.S. Election Integrity Plan, which operates in the Grand Valley and elsewhere in the state, went after GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown over a leaked message from Brown to an unknown school board candidate elsewhere in the state.
In the message, Brown warns the candidate not to post or say anything publicly about Peters while local, state and federal investigators dig into allegations that the Mesa County Republican clerk and others inside and outside of her office may have played a role in possible criminal violations of state election security laws…
We’re sorry to report that the cat has exited the proverbial bag.
As the world awaits the next developments in the criminal investigation into Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, accused of allowing/facilitating a major breach of election system security in a clueless and fruitless attempt to prove that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, local Republicans continue to face a delicate balancing act in which some amount of distance is necessarily kept from the glaring misconduct Peters is accused of–while taking care not to offend the substantial faction within the Republican Party rank-and-file who believe the “Big Lie” and consider Peters to be a hero.
A window into that difficult position was provided by the leak of a text message dialogue from late August between Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown and an unknown school board candidate up for election this November. Readers will recall that the Colorado GOP has openly embraced a slate of partisan Republican candidates for nominally nonpartisan municipal and school board races across the state.
What’s the message from on high about Clerk Tina Peters? Clam up about Tina Peters:
This gets rather dicey when you consider that Brown appointed a member of the so-called “U.S. Election Integrity Project,” which is fiercely defending Clerk Peters, to the Colorado GOP’s in-house “Election Integrity Operations Action Committee.” After learning of the message above, USEIP volleyed back hopping mad at Kristi Burton Brown:
Turns out the CO GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown is as feckless as the rest of the GOP establishment across the nation when it comes to election integrity. In a leaked message KBB’s cowardice and lack of understanding of the law is on full display as she encourages candidates to steer clear of the fight in Mesa County. In fact, KBB declined to do her homework that would show many of Griswold’s claims have no legal backing. However, it’s no surprise. KBB has been completely silent on the topic of election integrity since she’s been elected in December…
It’s worth remembering that Peters is being defended in the lawsuit seeker her removal from elections duties by Scott Gessler, who was KBB’s unsuccessful opponent for the job of party chair in leadership elections held in the spring. That may not have been known when KBB sent her message warning about supporting Peters, but it’s a good bet there’s no love lost between the two. Since KBB wrote this message, of course, things have only gotten worse for Peters–it’s now public knowledge, for example, that Peters indeed turned off the security cameras covering the machines.
All told, it was probably good advice–but the reaction Brown got when her advice went public speaks much louder. How can this rift heal without ripping the scab off the GOP’s whole Trumpian identity crisis?
Kristi Burton Brown doesn’t know the answer to this question.