3rd arrest made in alleged Colorado election security breach
DENVER (AP) — The former elections manager for a Colorado clerk indicted on charges of tampering with voting equipment has been arrested on allegations that she was part of the scheme, an official said Wednesday.
Sandra Brown, who worked for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, turned herself in Monday in response to a warrant issued for her arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation and attempting to influence a public servant, said Lt. Henry Stoffel of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. The arrest was first reported by The Daily Sentinel newspaper.
Peters and her chief deputy, Belinda Knisley, are being prosecuted for allegedly allowing a copy of a hard drive to be made during an update of election equipment in May 2021. State election officials first became aware of a security breach last summer when a photo and video of confidential voting system passwords were posted on social media and a conservative website.
Peters, who has echoed former President Donald Trump’s false theories about the 2020 election and become a hero to election conspiracy theorists, lost her bid to become the GOP candidate for Colorado secretary of state last month. She first came to national attention when she spoke last year at a conference hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, one of the most prominent election deniers in the country.
Peters is charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, one count of identity theft, first-degree official misconduct, violation of duty and failing to comply with the secretary of state.
Knisley is charged with three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, one count of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, violation of duty and failing to comply with the secretary of state.
Neither have entered a plea yet and both have dismissed the allegations, with Peters calling them politically motivated.
Mesa County, in western Colorado, is largely rural and heavily Republican. Trump won it in the 2020 presidential election with nearly 63% of the vote. President Joe Biden won Colorado overall with 55.4% of the state’s vote.
Brown was released the day after her arrest.
Efforts to reach for comment were unsuccessful via phone numbers that may be associated with her. Court records did not say whether Brown has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
According to a court document, Knisley worked to get a security badge for a man Peters said she was hiring in the clerk’s office. Peters then used it to allow another, unauthorized person inside the room to make a copy of the election equipment hard drive, it said. Brown was present when the copy was made and conspired to misrepresent who the person using the badge was, it said.