By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – A county official who was charged with felony tampering with voting equipment and then lost a bid for the Republican nomination for Colorado’s top election management job has become a fugitive from justice, they show. court records on Thursday.
In a written court order, Mesa County District Judge Matthew Barrett revoked a $25,000 cash bond for Tina Peters, who is the Republican-elected county clerk and recorder, and issued a warrant for her arrest.
Court records show Peters left the state without permission, violating the terms of his bond that allowed his pretrial release from jail in March.
Peters’ attorney, Harvey Steinberg, filed court papers later Thursday to block the arrest warrant. The motion acknowledged that Peters had gone to Las Vegas, Nevada, this week to speak at a sheriff’s conference, but asserted that he did not understand the court-ordered travel restrictions he faced.
In March, a Colorado grand jury indicted Peters on election rigging charges stemming from an alleged violation by Mesa County voting equipment, and he was barred by the Colorado secretary of state from overseeing elections in Colorado’s eastern western county. year.
According to the 10-count indictment, which included counts of criminal impersonation, conspiracy, identity theft and official misconduct, Peters gave unauthorized personnel access to the county’s election computer server.
Two of his deputies were also criminally charged in the case, which drew national attention in part because Peters openly expressed support for former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged against him.
Peters has denied any wrongdoing and blamed his legal troubles on his political opponents, including Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat.
Undeterred by his impeachment, Peters sought the Republican nomination to challenge Griswold, who is running for re-election in November. But Peters, who was allowed to travel outside of Colorado while she was running for statewide office, lost the Republican primary last month.
Investigators learned that Peters had filed a document with Griswold’s office this week, requesting a recount of the primary election, and that it was notarized in Las Vegas. That revelation prompted Mesa County District Attorney Daniel Rubinstein to file a motion to revoke Peters’ bond.
“Ms. Peters is less motivated to appear in court now that she is no longer a candidate,” Rubinstein wrote. “Furthermore, she has shown through her journey before the election that she has the means to flee if she wants to.”
Peter’s defense attorney denied that she was a flight risk, arguing that he believed she still had permission to travel out of state 72 hours in advance, as she did during her election campaign, and that failing to provide such notice before going to Las Vegas was careless.
Peters was in Las Vegas on July 12 to speak at a symposium on voter fraud organized by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Police Officers Association, a conservative group of local elected police officials and their allies.
The criminal investigation of Peters was opened last year after images of Mesa County election team passwords surfaced on a right-wing blog.
The alleged computer breach was identified during a software update in 2021 and did not involve any actual election or election irregularity, authorities said.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman and Daniel Wallis)