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Eagle County clerk receives warning letter defending actions of Mesa County clerk

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September 9, 2021, 7:50 am

Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien this week said in an email she has received a letter defending the actions of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and warning “you may be next.” The full letter is at the end of this post.

Peters is embroiled in an investigation by state and federal officials into whether she allegedly allowed the online leak of the county’s Dominion voting machine information by 2020 election-fraud conspiracy theorists. Peters has been unavailable for weeks after speaking at a conference hosted by Trump supporter and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in South Dakota.

It’s unclear if Peters is alleging voter fraud in Grand Junction or surrounding Mesa County, where Republicans won by wide margins in 2020, including a nearly 28-point victory by far-right U.S. Rep. Lauran Boebert, whose district includes the western two-thirds of Eagle County.

A hand-written note at the bottom of an anonymous Aug. 27 type-written, one-page letter to Eagle County’s O’Brien urges her not to “let them touch the voting machines for 25 months … There is voter fraud. You may be next.”

There have not been any credible allegations of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 election in Eagle County, elsewhere in Colorado or nationally – even after numerous recounts, audits and legal challenges in various states. Still, former President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to propagate what’s become known around the country as “The Big Lie.” Various Colorado-based election conspiracy groups have been confronting county clerks.

“I did receive a letter, and my understanding is that most county clerks [in Colorado] received a similar version of this letter,” O’Brien wrote, adding Colorado and federal officials are on the case in Mesa County.

“The DA and the FBI are investigating what happened in Mesa, and I leave it to those authorities to do their work,” O’Brien said. “I also know that Mesa County voters will be enfranchised with Ms. Sheila Reiner and former Secretary of State Wayne Williams overseeing the election, both of whom are experienced election officials. I also understand that Mesa County is using all new Dominion equipment for the upcoming election.”

Colorado Newsline first reported on the letter being received by clerks in other Colorado counties on Sept. 5. Here’s that initial report:

Multiple county clerks in Colorado recently received a letter that they found alarming because of its tone and due to the context of intensifying efforts by activists who say, despite the absence of evidence, that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

The one-page letter, dated Aug. 27, is typed, and, at least for some of the recipients, a handwritten portion is added at the bottom.

“We the people of Colorado aren’t taking it anymore — You work for us!” reads the handwritten line at the bottom of the letter received at the office of Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell. “Chaffee County may be next!”

Mitchell told Newsline that the warning, in the context of the rest of the letter, might refer to a potential that her office, like the clerk’s office in Mesa County, could be investigated by the secretary of state.

“But it’s hard to know because, after all we’ve been through, it’s just worrisome,” Mitchell said. 

Earlier in the summer, in response to mounting threats directed at Mitchell, she had bulletproof infrastructure installed in her Salida offices.

In recent days, at Mitchell’s request, agents with the Department of Homeland Security conducted a physical security assessment at the clerk’s office, where 10 people work, and she plans to make improvements based on the agents’ advice.

The typed section of the letter, which is identical in the versions viewed by Newsline, discusses Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s investigation into an election-system security breach in the office of Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters. Mesa County election-system hard drive images were copied and released to conspiracy theorists with alleged participation by Peters. Staff from Griswold’s office visited the clerk’s office last month to investigate the breach, and the FBI and Mesa County district attorney are conducting a related criminal investigation.

The letter refers to the visit as “raids,” and it defends Peters, saying she did nothing wrong. Griswold is using a “‘Gestapo Standard’ of election intimidation” on behalf of a “tyrannical, weaponized government,” it says. 

“Enough. There is no more time nor reason to tolerate or negotiate with tyrants,” the letter ends, adding a demand that Griswold resign.

Carly Koppes, the Republican clerk and recorder for Weld County and president of the Colorado County Clerks Association, also received a version of the letter. The handwritten portion of Koppes’ letter says “We the people” don’t want voting machines touched or loaded with new software, and it ends, “You may be next!”

Koppes said the meaning of that line is ambiguous, but taken with other threats to her office since the November election it’s notable.

“Some of my colleagues have received much worse than I have,” Koppes said. 

Koppes, who was born and raised in Weld County, began working in the clerk and recorder’s office in 2004. Elections in her experience didn’t used to be so confrontational. “In my 17 years I have never seen anything like this,” she said.

Some of the letters appear to be signed by “Katherine Hawkins” and feature a similar style of cursive handwriting. Other clerks who reportedly received a version of the letter include those in Park and Baca counties. Colorado County Clerks Association spokesperson Michele Ames said that to her knowledge “a majority of the clerks in the state” received a version of the letter.

Its distribution appears to be part of a strategy by election conspiracists that involves “ramping up their efforts to pressure clerks,” Ames said.

Since he lost the election to President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump has claimed without evidence that the election was fraudulent. Some activists in Colorado, such as those associated with U.S. Election Integrity Plan, have sought to prove that election systems in Colorado are vulnerable to tampering and fraud, though their claims amount mainly to innuendo, and the most serious actual breach is the one allegedly committed with the help of the Republican Peters. USEIP volunteers have reportedly gone door-to-door in multiple counties asking individual voters to verify their participation in the election. Election-fraud activists have pressured Colorado county clerks to conduct audits of the election.

Clerks expect such pressure to worsen as the next statewide election, on Nov. 2, approaches.

“I have no doubt it will escalate,” Mitchell said. “Clerks are trying to stay positive, check in with each other, offer support when they can.”

Mitchell has worked in the clerk’s office since 2011 and has been clerk since 2014. Like Knoppes, she said she has “absolutely not” seen anything like the recent attacks on elections officials before.

“It just takes a toll on you, because you’re worried about your staff,” she said. “You’re just worried about them feeling safe at work and you’re worried about everybody’s safety for real.”

A lot of her staff are longtime members of the community, she said.

“We’re just trying to do our jobs, our professional jobs, and help people interact with their government, and it’s like we’re just turned into the enemy all of a sudden,” she said.

Mitchell is up for reelection next year. Asked how she feels about remaining in office after the threats she’s experienced, she said, “I’m going to fight like hell and I’m going to win again … I have a job to do and I’m going to do it, and I’m going to run the best campaign I can, and I’m going to win.”

Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

This is the Aug. 27 letter received by the Eagle County clerk and recorder.

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