Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

A judge in Colorado issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk who is under indictment in relation to a breach of election equipment after the 2020 presidential contest, for violating conditions of her bond that prevented her from traveling without court approval.

The judge, Matthew D. Barrett of Colorado’s 21st Judicial District, also revoked her $25,000 cash bond and called for her to be held in jail pending a hearing.

Ms. Peters traveled to Las Vegas this week to speak at an event hosted by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a conservative group of county sheriffs and their allies. According to court documents, she did not obtain permission from the judge to travel outside Colorado.

Ms. Peters had been deemed a flight risk and was ordered to remain in the state after she was indicted in March on criminal charges, including seven felonies, that stemmed from a scheme to copy sensitive election software from county voting machines in an effort to prove that the 2020 presidential election was tainted by fraud.

But because she was running for the Republican nomination for Colorado secretary of state, Ms. Peters was given permission to travel outside the state for political purposes, as long as she notified the court of her plans.

She lost her primary bid last month, and on Monday, Judge Barrett ruled that she would again need the court’s approval before traveling out of state. Ms. Peters has continued to claim, without evidence, that her election loss was the result of fraud.

In a sign that Ms. Peters had not yet left for Las Vegas when the Monday order arrived, Daniel P. Rubinstein, the Mesa County district attorney, said in a court filing that Ms. Peters was at the Mesa County Detention Facility that day, “nearly five hours after the court restricted any out-of-state travel.”

On Thursday afternoon, Harvey A. Steinberg, a lawyer representing Ms. Peters, filed a motion to quash the arrest warrant, arguing that she had told his office of her intent to travel and that his office had not filed the necessary notice with the court, meaning that Ms. Peters did not know the court was unaware of her travel.

“Ms. Peters has not knowingly violated bond conditions,” Mr. Steinberg wrote.

Ms. Peters did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It was not clear if she was still in Las Vegas.

During her speech in Las Vegas, Ms. Peters claimed that Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican who is also from western Colorado, had dinner with multiple people who helped carry out the plot to copy election data.

Benjamin Stout, the communications director for Ms. Boebert, said on Thursday that Ms. Peters’s “claims are untrue.”

Ms. Peters had previously told The New York Times that Ms. Boebert “encouraged” her to carry through with the operation. Ms. Boebert’s campaign denied those allegations.

One of Ms. Peters’s top aides, Sandra Brown, turned herself in on Monday after being indicted over her role in the alleged scheme to extract data from county election machines. Ms. Brown, who was the county’s election manager, faces several felony charges, including conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant. Her arrest was earlier reported by The Daily Sentinel.

Court records suggest that Ms. Brown was involved in the alleged plot from the very beginning. On April 23, Ms. Peters, Ms. Brown, another aide and Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign manager for Ms. Boebert, met with Douglas Frank, a high school math and science teacher in Ohio whose debunked theories have been influential among election conspiracists, according to records.

Court documents cite a recorded conversation in which Ms. Peters asked Mr. Frank if he could open the machines, but he said it was against the law based on county contracts. Ms. Bishop then suggested using a routine software procedure known as a “trusted build” to get inside the machines, according to the documents.

Ms. Bishop has not been charged with any wrongdoing. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In all, three officials in Ms. Peters’s office face criminal charges related to the scheme; Belinda Knisley, Ms. Peters’s deputy, was indicted in March on six charges.

Source link