By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – A county clerk who was indicted on felony charges of tampering with voting equipment and then lost a bid for the Republican nomination to Colorado’s top election-management post has become a fugitive from justice, court records showed 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 county’s Republican elected clerk and recorder, and issued a warrant for her arrest.
Court records show Peters left the state without permission, violating the terms of her bail bond that permitted her pre-trial release from jail in March.
Peters’ lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, filed court papers later on Thursday seeking to block the bench warrant for her arrest. The motion acknowledged Peters had gone to Las Vegas, Nevada, this week to speak at a sheriff’s conference but asserted she misunderstood the court-ordered travel restrictions she faced.
In March, Peters was indicted by a Colorado grand jury on election tampering charges stemming from an alleged breach of Mesa County’s voting equipment, and was barred by Colorado’s secretary of state from overseeing elections in the western Colorado county this year.
According to the 10-count indictment, which included charges of criminal impersonation, conspiracy, identity theft and official misconduct, Peters gave unauthorized personnel access to the county’s election computer server.
Two of her deputies have also been criminally charged in the case, which gained national attention in part because Peters was outspoken in her 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 her legal troubles on her political adversaries, including Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat.
Undaunted by her indictment, Peters sought the Republican nomination to challenge Griswold, who is up for re-election in November. But Peters, who was permitted to travel outside Colorado while she was a candidate 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 led Mesa County District Attorney Daniel Rubinstein to file a motion to revoke Peters’ bond.
“Ms. Peters has less motivation to appear in court now that she is no longer a candidate,” Rubinstein wrote. “Additionally, she has evidenced through her travel prior to the election that she has the means to flee if she wants to.”
Peter’s defense lawyer denied she was a flight risk and argued she believed she still had permission to travel out of state with 72 hours advance notice, as she did during her election campaign, and that her failure to provide such notice before going to Las Vegas was an oversight.
Peters was in Las Vegas on July 12 to address a symposium on election fraud held by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a conservative group of elected local law enforcement officials and their allies.
The criminal investigation of Peters was opened last year after images of Mesa County’s election equipment passwords were on a right-wing blog site.
The suspected computer breach was pinpointed during a software update in 2021 and did not involve any actual election or voting irregularities, authorities said.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Steve Gorman and Daniel Wallis)