The Colorado Newsline is reporting that Wayne Williams, the former Colorado secretary of state who is now in charge of Mesa County elections, said he hasn’t heard from Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters since news of her office’s investigation broke.
Williams stated that he had not attempted to contact Peters.
“My focus is on trying to make the election work,” he told Newsline on Tuesday. “I know the commissioners have made pleas to her to come in and start (running) the recording and motor vehicles side, but my focus is to run an election. That’s what I’m charged to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Williams, a Republican, is currently serving on the Colorado Springs City Council in a nonpartisan capacity, as well as supervising Mesa County’s November election.
Peters hasn’t been seen in Mesa County since August 9, when Secretary of State Jena Griswold — Williams’ Democratic successor — announced an investigation into a “serious breach” of election security protocols at Peters’ office. A few days later, Griswold accused Peters of allowing an unauthorized individual to attend a May software upgrade for Dominion Voting Systems machines, known as a “trusted build.”
The FBI and the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office are also looking into Peters.
Meanwhile, Peters spoke on August 10 at a South Dakota “Cyber Symposium” hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who has falsely claimed that widespread fraud cost Trump the 2020 presidential election. Election conspiracy theorists stated that they would validate their theories using evidence from hard drive images of Mesa County’s Dominion machines, but no such evidence has emerged.
According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Peters, a Republican, stated in an email to the Mesa County attorney’s office on September 1 that she had been working “remotely.” While Peters did not specify what she was working on, her office’s non-elections responsibilities include overseeing vehicle registrations and marriage licenses, among other things.
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Griswold initially appointed Mesa County treasurer and former county clerk Sheila Reiner to replace Peters as top elections official. Mesa County commissioners rejected the appointment and instead hired Williams.
Later, Griswold filed a lawsuit to remove Peters’ election authority and appoint Williams as the designated elections official. The county commissioners stepped in, claiming that only they had the authority to appoint Williams as the top elections official.
The question of who was in charge, according to Williams, had not caused conflict between Reiner and himself.
He and Reiner collaborated to get new election equipment installed in Mesa County by an Aug. 31 deadline so that ballots could be mailed to military and overseas voters.
“She and I have been talking by either email, text or phone, multiple times on most days,” he said.
Williams said he can do some Mesa County work remotely, but he plans to be in Grand Junction “fairly frequently” in October, when the election is in full swing. Grand Junction is located nearly 300 miles west of Colorado Springs, where Williams serves on the city council.
“I have continued to participate in City Council meetings and will continue to do that. … I have always worked more than 40 hours a week, and so that doesn’t bother me,” said Williams, who has a private legal practice.
“I’m not taking on any (legal) clients right now,” he added, “because that would be more bandwidth than I have.”
Multiple county clerks in Colorado recently received a letter that they found concerning due to the tone of the letter and the context of intensifying efforts by activists who claim, despite the lack of evidence, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
The one-page letter, dated Aug. 27, is typed, with a handwritten section at the bottom for at least some of the recipients.
“We the people of Colorado aren’t taking it anymore — You work for us!” reads the handwritten line at the bottom of the letter received at the office of Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell. “Chaffee County may be next!”
Mitchell told Newsline that the warning, in the context of the rest of the letter, could refer to the possibility that her office, like Mesa County’s clerk’s office, could be investigated by the secretary of state.
“But it’s hard to know because, after all we’ve been through, it’s just worrisome,” Mitchell said.
In response to mounting threats against Mitchell, she had bulletproof infrastructure installed in her Salida offices earlier this summer.
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security conducted a physical security assessment at the clerk’s office, where 10 people work, at Mitchell’s request in recent days, and she plans to make improvements based on the agents’ recommendations.
The typed section of the letter, which is identical in the versions seen by Newsline, discusses Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s investigation into an election-system security breach in Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters’ office.
Mesa County election-system hard drive images were allegedly copied and distributed to conspiracy theorists with Peters’s participation. Staff from Griswold’s office investigated the breach at the clerk’s office last month, and the FBI and Mesa County district attorney are conducting a related criminal investigation.
The visit is referred to in the letter as “raids,” and Peters is defended, saying she did nothing wrong. According to the report, Griswold is employing a “‘Gestapo Standard’ of election intimidation” on behalf of a “tyrannical, weaponized government.”
“Enough. There is no more time nor reason to tolerate or negotiate with tyrants,” the letter ends, adding a demand that Griswold resign.
Carly Koppes, Weld County’s Republican clerk and recorder and president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, also received a copy of the letter. The handwritten portion of Koppes’ letter states that “We the People” do not want voting machines to be touched or loaded with new software, and it concludes, “You may be next!”
The meaning of that line, according to Koppes, is ambiguous, but it is notable in light of other threats to her office since the November election.
Koppes, who was born and raised in Weld County, began working in the clerk and recorder’s office in 2004. Elections in her experience didn’t used to be so confrontational. “In my 17 years I have never seen anything like this,” she said.
Some of the letters appear to be signed by “Katherine Hawkins” and are written in a similar cursive style. Clerks in Park and Baca counties are said to have received a version of the letter as well. According to Colorado County Clerks Association spokesperson Michele Ames, “the majority of the clerks in the state” received a version of the letter.
Its distribution appears to be part of an election conspiracist strategy that includes “intensifying their efforts to pressure clerks,” according to Ames.