FBI joins criminal investigation into Mesa County Clerk and Recorder's Office election system breach

Agency looking into whether any federal crimes were committed alongside DA probe
Posted at 12:41 PM, Aug 17, 2021

DENVER – The FBI is assisting the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office in its investigation of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office to determine if any federal crimes were committed, a spokesperson confirmed Tuesday to Denver7.

News of the FBI’s involvement in the ongoing criminal investigation into how passwords from Mesa County voting systems ended up in the hands of conspiracy theorists was first reported Tuesday by CNN.

Courtney Bernal, a spokesperson for the FBI Denver field office, said the FBI was working with District Attorney Dan Rubinstein’s office “on the forensic review and analysis of county voting systems to determine if there was a potential federal criminal violation.”

On Monday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said she was “determining who to appoint to supervise Mesa County elections” – signaling that she will replace County Clerk Tina Peters before the next election.

The secretary of state’s office also said Monday the ongoing investigation by her office into how the county election system was breached revealed that Peters, a man named Gerald Wood, and another county clerk’s office employee copied hard drive images of election management software.

Griswold’s office says at least one of the copies was believed to have been made in a secure room on the evening of May 23 – after hours and two days before the “trusted build” from which images of special voting system passwords were taken, which were leaked to conspiracy theorists and featured by Peters and others at Mike Lindell’s symposium last week.

The secretary of state’s office had said previously that evidence pointed to Peters directing staff to turn off video surveillance equipment before the May 25 upgrades — video cameras that were not turned back on until August.

In addition to the FBI’s involvement in the criminal aspect of the case, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is being consulted on the elections side of the matter. Griswold’s office said Monday the agency confirmed “it does not view this breach as a significant heightening of the election risk landscape at this point.”

Last week, Griswold prohibited the compromised election equipment – 41 total pieces – from being used further in Mesa County elections. The county will be responsible for deciding whether to replace them and will have to foot the cost. The secretary of state’s office is assisting in this process.

Griswold said last week that Peters “allowed a security breach, and by all evidence at this point, assisted it.” Peters has not responded to multiple requests for comment since the investigation got underway.