Election-denying former Colorado clerk guilty of obstruction
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A former Colorado clerk who has become a hero to election conspiracy theorists was convicted Friday of a misdemeanor obstruction charge for trying to prevent authorities from taking an iPad she allegedly used to videotape a court hearing.
The case is separate from Tina Peters' alleged involvement in a security breach of voting machines.
Jurors found Peters guilty of obstructing government operations but acquitted her of obstructing a peace officer, The Daily Sentinel reported.
She was charged last year after allegedly recording a court hearing involving a subordinate who was also charged in the alleged voting machine breach.
Testimony during the two-day trial included that Peters repeatedly told investigators that the iPad did not belong to her and that she could not provide the password because it belonged to someone else named Tammy Bailey. Peters' lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, said that was an alias used by Peters, suggesting it was created for security reasons.
“It is her right not to give out the passcode,” he said in closing arguments. “It’s not a crime.”
Peters was briefly detained on Feb. 8, 2022, at a cafe where she was meeting with other people when investigators from the district attorney’s office showed up with a warrant to seize the iPad. Peters gave the iPad to another person, and police were then called. Peters then got between officers and the man to try to prevent them from taking the iPad. Peters was handcuffed and taken outside without warning, which was captured on police body camera video.
“She’s struggling with us the whole time as we were trying to get the handcuffs on,” Officer Vaughn Soderquist testified. “Ms. Peters escalated in her behavior so we removed her to calm things down.”
Peters, who is running to become the leader of Colorado's Republican Party, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10. The obstruction charge carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $750 fine. The charge Peters was acquitted of would have carried a sentence of up to a year in jail.
Peters has pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges related to her role in allegedly accessing confidential voting machine data in 2021 while she was clerk. That trial is scheduled for August.
The subordinate whose court hearing Peters is accused of recording, Belinda Knisley, as well as another election worker, Sandra Brown, have both pleaded guilty under deals that require them to testify against Peters.