The official may face criminal charges pending a state attorney’s investigation
Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk, is under investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office as well as the Mesa County District Attorney‘s Office for allegedly participating in a strange incident that resulted in the county’s election software passwords being posted online.
Ms Peters was an attendee at Mr Lindell’s cyber symposium, where he promised, but failed to provide, data that would prove the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Mr Lindell’s symposium was met with mockery and derision by critics online, particularly from actual cybersecurity experts. The event was a mixture of Mr Lindell’s breathless conspiracy theories and a few bizarre turns, including unfounded allegations that antifa was menacing people in the parking lot and a claim from the pillow company CEO that he had been attacked outside his hotel room.
While the event was treated like a sideshow by many, Ms Peters’ situation is no laughing matter.
According to CBS Denver, Mesa County will have to replace all of its election equipment because of a security breach.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said that the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office told its staff to shut down video surveillance of its voting equipment just before the machines were updated on 25 May. By shutting off the video feed, it makes it impossible for the county to “verify the chain of custody of the machines”. In other words, they cannot be sure the machines were not tampered with while the video was off.
Ms Griswold believes that the machine’s passwords were stolen during the period of time when the video was shut down. She also claimed an unauthorised person was in attendance during the update session.
The secretary of state has blamed the password theft on “conspiracy theorists” and insinuated Ms Peters may have been an accomplice to what happened.
“This is troubling for the entire state of Colorado to have someone in a trusted position, literally trusted to protect democracy, allow this type of situation to occur. To be very clear, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder allowed a security breach and by all evidence at this point assisted it,” she said.
Ms Peters denounced the investigation while she was at Mr Lindell’s symposium. She called the probe a “raid” and made conspiratorial accusations that the agencies examining her were working in coordination with Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion was the focus of several highly circulated conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
“I don’t know what they did, I don’t know what they did, but I can tell you that I don’t trust them,” she said during the event.
The security breach did not occur during an election period, so Colorado officials are confident no elections were compromised.
If the state attorney general’s office finds Ms Peters was directly involved in the breach, she could face criminal charges.
Meanwhile at the symposium, Mr Lindell’s “absolute proof” mostly fizzled. Numerous election voting software experts and cybersecurity experts – who Mr Lindell invited to attend – were promised evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election, but ultimately received nothing.
Even conservative pundit Steve Bannon criticised the event, saying Mr Lindell needed to bring “receipts” if he was going to continue making his claims.