Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold banned Mesa County from using its election equipment after blaming its Republican county clerk for helping to leak voting system passwords, NPR reports.
Griswold said at a news conference that a video secretly recorded during a May system update that included the passwords was uploaded to the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit.
"We know that that information was posted by an extreme conspiracy theorist last week," she said, barring the county from using 41 pieces of voting equipment that may have been affected by the breach.
Griswold said County Clerk Tina Peters directed her staff to shut off video surveillance of the system a week before the breach and under false pretenses allowed an unauthorized person into the facility.
"He is not an employee — you have to be an employee to attend these,” Griswold said. You also have to be background checked and the County Clerk's office specifically misled my office saying that he did comply with the rules."
“To be very clear; Mesa County Clerk and Recorder allowed a security breach and — by all evidence at this point — assisted it,” Griswold said, adding that “I think it is extremely concerning that an elected official from the state of Colorado is actively working to undermine confidence and spread misinformation about our award-wining voting system.”
Peters faces criminal investigation:
Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein has opened a criminal investigation separate from the secretary of state’s into the breach.
"I can confirm that we have not entered into this investigation with any person or criminal act in mind and will reserve judgment on that until the investigation is complete," said Rubinstein. "I also am unable to speculate on the length of time the investigation will take as we are too early in the investigation to have a good sense of the scope of it."
Matt Crane, the head of the Colorado County Clerks Association, slammed Peters during Thursday’s news conference.
"It was a solo, intentional and selfish act that jeopardized the conduct of and the elections and Mesa County and affects the competence of voters throughout the state,” he said. “We've heard people say that this is heroic. To be clear. There is nothing heroic or honorable about what happened in Mesa County.”
Peters fights back:
Peters, who gave the keynote speech at MyPillow founder Mike Lindell’s conspiracy theory “Cyber Symposium,” alleged that the investigation was politically motivated.
"She has come into my office several times already in the last two years since I've been the elected official, because I am a Republican, I'm a conservative and she's not. And she weaponizes her position to attack people that disagree with her," Peters said at the event.
"Something didn't seem right in our county from years ago to the 2020 election. And they wanted answers. And I said, you know what? If there's a 'there' there, we'll find it. And I've made that pledge to the citizens of Mesa County and all over Colorado."