The complaints against Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters are mounting.
An ethics complaint, filed by Anne Landman, a Mesa County political activist, is likely under a preliminary review by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission. And a campaign finance complaint filed with the Colorado Secretary of State by Scott Beilfuss, an officer with the Mesa County Democratic Party, could be headed toward further action after Peters declined an opportunity to address it, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
The state ethics commission, in their September meeting, put on hold an ethics complaint, believed to be against Peters, pending further review by their executive director. Landman told Colorado Politics she has responded to additional questions from the commission about her complaint, which is still confidential under commission rules until they decide if it is under their jurisdiction and non-frivolous.
Landman is well known in Grand Junction for political stunts. In 2018, that included an anti-Donald Trump airplane banner and a billboard that compared the GOP to the Soviet Union. In 2019, Landman sued state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, for blocking her on Twitter, a lawsuit she won. She runs a blog on Mesa County politics.
Landman’s complaint with the ethics commission deals with services provided to Peters by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who claim he flew her to a election conspiracy seminar in South Dakota, paid for her hotel and then continued to pay for hotels and incidentals for her after the seminar.
Peters didn’t return to her office for more than five weeks after the mid-August symposium. During that time, Lindell told VICE he was hiding Peters in a “safe house.”
The complaint states that in an Aug. 23 video, Lindell said he flew Peters on his private plane to the seminar, as reported in newspaper articles and on a YouTube video posted by Lindell. In the video, Lindell talks to Peters, stating, “Sorry your hotel was broken into. We'll get you to a better place and get you some protection,” which Landman said infers that Lindell is paying for her housing and security. It appears that Peters “has accepted, and is continuing to accept thousands of dollars worth of services, travel, security and favors from Mr. Lindell in violation of the Colorado Constitution,” the complaint states.
The complaint, however, does not estimate how much those services could cost. That’s the same kind of problem the commission dealt with in complaints filed against then-Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2018, over his acceptance of plane and limo rides. The original complaints didn’t provide any direct evidence on those costs and the commission eventually had to do their own estimates in order to determine a penalty for the violations.
Beilfuss has now filed two campaign finance complaints with the secretary of state. The first, filed in August, dealt solely with the Lindell jet ride; a second complaint filed Sept. 24 deals with a defense fund Peters set up.
With regard to the August complaint, the Secretary of State’s office granted Peters, as is allowed by law, 10 days to bring her campaign finance reports into compliance. However, that cure was due no later than Sept. 14 and Peters did not respond.
Peters was elected Mesa County clerk and recorder in November, 2018. She hasn’t filed a campaign finance report since November, 2019. The Secretary of State’s Office has never publicly flagged her account for failing to file those reports.
Peters did not respond to an email from Colorado Politics on the complaints.
In the Sept. 24 complaint, which is under review, Beilfuss wrote that “Peters set up a web site to accept contributions for her legal defense fund. These contributions are in fact gifts which if they are over $65 and put her in violation of an elected official accepting gifts over the legal limit of $65. Her web site: StandWithTina.org is open and accepting any and all monetary gifts of any apparently any amount. There is also no screen on her site to prevent lobbyists from contributing and all contributions must be made public of which no provisions on this appear.”
Peters’ actions regarding the county’s Dominion Voting System computers, including allegedly allowing an unauthorized individual to have access to those computers and turning off security cameras, resulted in investigations by the FBI, Secretary of State, and the District Attorney for Mesa County. It also forced the county to replace those machines after the computers were decertified by Secretary of State Jena Griswold. According to a Mesa County blog, the county was able to do so at no cost.