Colorado Republican Party chair candidate Tina Peters looks on during a debate for the state Republican Party leadership position Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Hudson, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By Charles Ashby, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

GRAND JUNCTION — Former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters was held in contempt of court Friday for lying to a district court judge about recording proceedings in his courtroom last year.

But instead of getting up to 6 months in jail — or any jail time — Eagle County District Judge Paul Dunkelman handed the Republican a $1,500 fine.

Dunkelman had been assigned the case after local judges recused themselves because the case involved fellow District Judge Matthew Barrett.

Testimony showed that Peters was seen video recording a Feb. 7, 2022, hearing for her former chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, when Knisley was facing felony burglary and misdemeanor cybercrimes charges in relation to her job at the clerk’s office.

The Unaffiliated is our twice-weekly newsletter peeling back the curtain on Colorado politics and policy.

Each edition is filled with exclusive news, analysis and behind-the-scenes coverage you won’t find anywhere else. Subscribe today to see what all the buzz is about.

Before that hearing began, Knisley asked Peters to record it so she could remember all that occurred at it, something she testified Friday that Peters agreed to do.

“I don’t know the rules of the courtroom because I haven’t spent any time in a courtroom in 67 years,” she said through tears. “I’m very sorry. Judge Barrett, he’s very authoritarian, very demanding and very scary. I didn’t want to do anything to harm my chief deputy and best friend. To separate her from me for the last two years has been punishment enough.”

Peters is separately facing felony and misdemeanor charges in an indictment for allegedly making copies of Mesa County’s election computers, using a stolen identity to do so, and allowing them to be revealed to conspiracy theorists who believe the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.