Campaign finance reports show embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has raised more than $519,000 since June 23, nearly all of which flooded into her campaign coffers a month after she was defeated in the Republican primary for Colorado Secretary of State.
According to campaign finance reports filed Monday night, nearly $504,000 of the total $519,000 came in during a seven-day period between July 21 and July 27.
Out of 5,612 reported contributions, all but some 200 came in well after the June 28 primary. About 21% of those contributions came from Colorado residents, and more than a dozen appear to conflict with Colorado's campaign finance rules.
The rules, according to the state campaign finance manual, state that "committees must report and itemize contributions of $20 or more, (either one time contributions or contributions greater than $20 in aggregate during a reporting period) including non-monetary (in-kind) contributions. Itemization means listing each contribution individually with the name and address of the contributor."
Peters had at least 17 contributions of $20 or more where the address of the donor is not listed.
Peters' donors did follow the law for the amounts contributed. None were over $1,250, the two-year election cycle limit on individual campaign contributions.
The finance report comes as a statewide recount of machine tabulations for the GOP primary between Peters, former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson — the state-certified winner of the election — and Mike O'Donnell is ongoing and must be completed by Aug. 4.
Peters in a news release Monday demanded a hand recount, which the elections division within Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office has maintained is not legal under the rules.
In the release, Peters alleged the Secretary of State's office lied about the amount of money required for the recount.
"The Colorado Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, provided false information to the Peters campaign and seven other candidates who requested recounts," the release said. "The Secretary of State told Peters, in writing, the cost to initiate the recount. After the Peters campaign successfully raised the required funds the Secretary of State sent a revised notice that cost had increased by more than $20,000 with no attachment or detailed explanation of the increase – and the cost for the seven other candidates who also requested a recount had more than doubled. While the Peters campaign was able to successfully raise the additional funds at a moment’s notice, some of the other candidates were not and had to withdraw their recount requests."
Griswold's office said on July 27 that the "increased costs per recount...is that now counties would potentially be starting a recount on Friday and must complete that work by next Thursday, August 4th as required by statute. This may require work to be done over the weekend in addition to bringing in additional support to process a large number of ballots in a shorter amount of time."
Peters also claimed that "tens of thousands of dollars in recount funds, paid for by the Peters campaign – but administered by the Secretary of State are being used to pay Dominion employees “consulting fees” at a rate of $250 per hour – in a obvious attempt to use and deplete all the recount funds raised by the Peters campaign before a hand recount could be started."
Griswold's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Peters asked twice for a hand recount of the June 28 primary. The first request was on July 12. The letter was notarized in Clark County, Nevada, where Peters was a speaker at a convention and in apparent violation of her $25,000 bond. That violation, however, was dismissed by a Mesa County judge, based on errors made by her attorney, Harvey Steinberg, who failed to notify Peters that she was not allowed to leave the state without permission from the court.
That first request was denied on July 17 when Peters failed to submit the $236,279 in certified funds to pay for the recount. She submitted the second request on July 26 and turned in a certified check for $255,912.33 on July 28.
Peters, who is facing multiple felony charges related to allegations she tampered with her county's election equipment, came in second the three-way primary with 28.8% of the vote, about 15 points, or 88,000 votes, behind Anderson.
Automatic recounts, which are paid for by the state, are triggered when the difference between the winning candidate and second-place candidate is 0.05% or less of the winning vote. When those margins fall outside that percentage, the losing candidate must pay for the recount.