The FBI on Tuesday raided the home of a Colorado election clerk and three others in an investigation into a voting system security breach.
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a Republican, was accused by state officials in August of helping to leak voting system passwords to a right-wing blog. Peters later appeared at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's conspiracy-laden "cyber-symposium," where the pillow magnate promised but failed to produce evidence of election-rigging. Peters later briefly went into hiding with Lindell's help amid FBI scrutiny.
On Tuesday morning, the FBI and local prosecutors raided Peters' home.
"We executed four federally court-authorized operations today to gather evidence in connection with the investigation into the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder's Office," District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Colorado Politics. "We did so with assistance from the DA's office from the 21st Judicial District, the Attorney General's Office and the FBI."
Peters in an interview on Lindell's online streaming channel said the raid left her "terrified."
The FBI also raided a home in Garfield County, Rubinstein confirmed. Lindell said one of the homes raided belongs to Sherronna Bishop, a Garfield County resident who served as Rep. Lauren Boebert's, R-Colo., campaign manager. Bishop has been one of Peters' most prominent allies in stoking unfounded allegations of voting machine problems in the election and hinted at a rally last month that she was privy to unreleased data from Mesa County and Lindell's "cybersecurity team."
A judge last month banned Peters from overseeing elections in her county after a lawsuit filed by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat. Griswold led an investigation over the summer that found that Peters shut off surveillance systems and allowed an unauthorized person to access the county's voting system during a security update. Just days later, Ron Watkins, a Qanon conspiracy theorist believed to be one of the masterminds behind the movement, published photos of election equipment that he said he received from a whistleblower. Watkins and the far-right blog Gateway Pundit also published passwords unique to Mesa County officials used to access the county's Dominion voting system computers and servers. Two copies of the Dominion server hard drive were later published as well. Griswold in August ordered dozens of pieces of the county's election equipment to be decertified over the security breach and appointed a supervisor to oversee the county's future elections.
Peters, during the probe, appeared at Lindell's 72-hour "cyber symposium," where he invited reporters to view evidence of his vote-rigging conspiracy theory but failed to produce any. Peters, who was met with cheers at the event, now casts herself as a victim of a politically motivated investigation and compared Colorado to Nazi Germany.
"The FBI raided my home at 6 a.m. this morning, accusing me of committing a crime. And they raided the homes of my friends, mostly older women. I was terrified," Peters told Lindell TV on Tuesday, adding that authorities used a "battering ram" to destroy one of her friend's front doors.
Peters said the agents "took all of my electronics."
"Essentially, they were soldiers in combat gear. They were not men in suits with badges," she said. "They looked very much like they were in a combat zone — soldiers with automatic weapons and combat gear."
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Peters has claimed that she has evidence that Dominion deleted election files, which conspiracy theorists have cited as proof of their claims that voting machines switched votes from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. Griswold's office said that the files that were deleted included accounting forms, certificates of registration, voter applications, spoiled ballots and replacement ballots that were not required under the election code, according to KREX-TV. Former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican who was appointed by Griswold to oversee the county's elections, also said that none of the deleted files could affect election outcomes.
Along with the security breach, the state's Independent Ethics Commission on Tuesday unanimously voted to move ahead with their investigation into a complaint accusing Peters of violating the state's constitution by accepting private flights and travel expenses from Lindell.
"They want to shut me up, shut me out, prosecute me, do whatever they can to villainize and demonize me just to cover up their dirty deeds," she said Tuesday. "I can't unsee what I've seen."
But Peters' actions in response to Trumpworld's conspiracy-mongering has raised new concerns about potential insider threats to election security.
"I've always worried, working in this space, about people who want to harm our elections or sabotage them from the outside — the foreign actors trying to hack elections. I've never until now had to worry about what goes on on the inside. And now we've crossed that threshold," Mike Beasley, a lobbyist for the Colorado County Clerks Association, told The Washington Post.
"If these local offices become weaponized in a way that subverts the free and fair election," added Tammy Patrick, an election administration expert who serves as a senior adviser at the nonpartisan Democracy Fund, "then we no longer live in a healthy democracy."