Grand jury to investigate election tampering allegations in Mesa County, Colorado

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State and local officials are launching a grand jury investigation into allegations of election equipment tampering and official misconduct in Mesa County.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Attorney General Phil Weiser made the announcement about convening the grand jury in a news release early Thursday morning, saying in the joint statement that the grand jury accepted the case on Wednesday.

Although Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters, a Republican, was not named in the announcement, local, state and federal authorities have been investigating for months a possible security breach in the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office after Peters and others allegedly allowed an unauthorized person access to elections equipment during a Dominion Voting Systems Software update in May, and passwords were later posted online in August. It’s unclear how many people are under the grand jury investigation.

A judge barred Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from overseeing the 2021 election. Peters has continued to spread baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

In November, the AG and DA’s offices confirmed that they, along with the FBI, conducted a search in Peters’ home related to the alleged selection system breach and disputed claims by Peters that her home and those of her friends were raided.

The secretary of state’s office asked Peters to sign a document that placed limits on what Peters can do for the 2022 elections if she wanted to return as the designated election official, including repudiating a statement she made about Dominion Voting Systems machines, but Peters rejected the offer, her legal defense fund said on Wednesday.

A grand jury in Colorado is often made up of a panel of about 12 people, nine of whom must find probable cause before they can indict someone — a standard that’s lower than what’s used for a conviction in criminal trials. Prosecutors present evidence and witnesses to the grand jury, but the proceedings are all kept secret. Even those under investigation are “dealt with privately to ensure fairness,” according to Attorney General Phil Weiser.

“The investigation will be thorough and guided by the facts and the law,” the joint statement read. “More information will be made available when the prosecutors are ethically and legally permitted to provide additional details. To maintain the impartiality of the investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

An FBI spokesperson did not immediately return requests for comment about the status of the federal investigation, and Peter’s legal defense fund also did not respond to a request for comment early Thursday.