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Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters speaks during the Truth and Justice Rally at the old Mesa County Courthouse on December 1, 2021, in Grand Junction. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

GRAND JUNCTION — Standing in front of the Mesa County Justice Center where a grand jury will weigh possible criminal charges against her, Tina Peters asked about three dozen cheering supporters if they wanted her to “stay and fight” and then announced she will run for a second term as Mesa County Clerk and Recorder.

The rally came on the same day that prosecutors announced that a Mesa County grand jury will investigate allegations that official misconduct by Peters compromised election equipment. 

The grand jury, a panel of citizens that can be convened by prosecutors to conduct an investigation and determine whether charges should be filed against someone, accepted the case Wednesday. 

Peters, a Republican who was barred from overseeing the 2021 election by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, has been under criminal investigation by local, state and federal authorities for months.

Peters has spread baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election being stolen and has been facing scrutiny since she allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to attend a sensitive Dominion Voting Systems software update in May. Photos of passwords taken during the update were then posted online.

“Over the past few months, we have made progress in the multi-agency investigation,” Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a joint written statement Thursday morning. “This investigation will be thorough and guided by the facts and the law. More information will be made available when the prosecutors are ethically and legally permitted to provide additional details. To maintain the impartiality of the investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

At the rally Thursday afternoon, Peters promised her supporters that new evidence will come out soon to corroborate her allegations that the 2020 election in Mesa County was manipulated by outside forces. She said the new information was not in the first forensic report that she has falsely claimed shows proof of voter fraud.

Embattled Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters on Jan. 13, 2022, announced she will run again for office. She made the announcement in front of the county Justice Center, where a grand jury investigating claims that she tampered with election equipment. (Nancy Lofholm, Special to The Colorado Sun)

“No more machines ever!” one of her supporters shouted in response.

Peters said supporters have urged her to run for Colorado Secretary of State, “but my heart is here in Mesa County.”

Peters has continued to work as the county’s clerk and recorder, and is currently barred from overseeing the elections division under a court order that expires at the end of January. This week, Peters rejected a settlement agreement from the Secretary of State’s Office that would have allowed her to return to the division under strict supervision, and would have required her to “completely repudiate, retract and disavow” some of her past statements about election integrity, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

“You know what I have to say to this order? I say ‘never,’” Peters told supporters Thursday. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Peters had yet to file official paperwork to run for reelection. 

Peters also faces campaign finance complaints for raising money during 2021 without declaring her candidacy or establishing a campaign committee, allegedly taking illegal gifts through an unregistered legal defense fund, as well as another complaint alleging she took illegal gifts related to plane flights and lodging for a conference she attended in August without reporting them. 

The rally Thursday was filmed by a videographer from Texas, who said he was hired to create a documentary about Peters, although he would not provide further details. Two other videographers from the Western Slope said they were hired by Peters and by Garfield County political activist Sherronna Bishop, who has been at Peters’ side at all her rallies and who is also under criminal investigation.

Thy Vo previously was a politics reporter for The Colorado Sun.

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: Twitter: @nlofholm