DENVER (AP) – A Colorado elections clerk whose whereabouts have been a mystery since she was accused of allowing a security breach of voting equipment that the FBI is investigating has told county commissioners that she remains on the job and has been working remotely.
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters has not been seen in Colorado since Secretary of State Jena Griswold opened her own investigation last month into the security breach.
Griswold says images of election equipment management software from Mesa County were obtained by election conspiracy theorists and posted on far-right blogs. Her office says one of the images was taken May 23 from a secure room in Mesa County where the voting equipment was stored and was accessed that day by Peters, who allowed a non-employee into the room.
Griswold, a Democrat, has sued to remove Peters as clerk and recorder. The lawsuit was filed earlier this week after county commissioners unanimously voted in August to replace Peters with former Secretary of State Wayne Williams.
In an email, Peters said she has been working every day starting at 7 a.m., and refuted claims by the county commissioners that she was missing in action, The Grand Junction Sentinel reported.
“For me to work remotely now whether I am physically at my home office in Mesa County or elsewhere is not indicative of the reckless assertions that I am being accused of insinuating I’m not doing the job the people of Mesa County elected me to do,” Peters said.
It is unclear where Peters is working from. Emails sent to Peters by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
The secretary of state’s office has identified the person it says was allowed into the secure room but has refused to say anything more about who he is or why he was there. The Associated Press isn’t naming him until more information becomes available. He has not been charged with a crime.
During Peters’ absence, the FBI announced it was assisting a criminal investigation into the breach being conducted by Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.
Separately, Rubinstein has filed charges of second degree burglary and cybercrime against Deputy County Clerk Belinda Knisley, who turned herself in to court officials on Wednesday. The charges “stem from conduct as a county employee” after Knisley was placed on paid leave due to a “confidential personnel matter,” Rubinstein’s office said in a statement.
On Aug. 23, Mesa County officials served Knisley a written notice of her suspension as an employee, explaining that the county received “numerous workplace harassment complaints.” Two days later, Knisley allegedly attempted to access the county’s computer network using Peters’ computer and log-in credentials, according to the arrest affidavit.
On broadcasts hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who has made unsubstantiated claims about fraud in the 2020 election, Peters claimed that Griswold’s investigation is an attempt to take over one of the few remaining conservative counties in Colorado.
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