Embattled Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters expressed contempt for atheists yesterday in a comment on social media, sowing further doubt about whether she can truly conduct her office in an impartial manner.
Here is how the comment came about:
Participants on the public group Facebook page “Transparency in Mesa County” had been discussing the County Clerk’s office after it was found that they forgot to collect and count 574+ ballots from the November, 2019 combined general election.
A slow boil for the Clerk
Participants on the Transparency page posted internal Clerk Office documents obtained through Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests, including items like receipts for expensive new furniture, budget documents showing inordinate expenditures for food and drink, internal emails about a taxpayer-funded public relations project to improve perceptions of the Clerk’s office and more, for all to see on the page. Former County Clerk Sheila Reiner posted emails she exchanged with Peters shortly after Peters was elected to show that she (Reiner) had reached out to Peters to help bring her up to speed Clerk’s office operations. Former employees of the Clerk’s office have been posting their insights, and many participants in the group just want to know if their ballots were among the those left in the ballot box and never counted. So far, despite three CORA requests, Clerk Peters has refused to publish the list of the names of the voters her office disenfranchised, a list that former employees say they saw created.
In recent days, Clerk Peters herself had started chiming in on the site, defending herself and the conduct of her office.
Discussions turned to the topic of the recent billboards about City Council members funded by the Chamber of Commerce-associated dark money group, Western Colorado Business Alliance (WCBA). I posted information about the background and funding of WCBA, so people would know who is behind the group and where their money comes from.
Shortly after that, Tina Peters posted her comment.
Full disclosure: I, Anne Landman, the author of this blog, formed the nonprofit group Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers in 2007. The group provides non-believers in our area with fellowship and serves as a watchdog for separation of church and state issues on the western slope.
Openly biased County Clerk
It is clear from her comment on the Transparency in Mesa County Facebook page that Ms. Peters is openly biased against atheists, a bias that calls her impartiality as County Clerk into question. If she had written “ANYTHING ANNE LANDMAN JEW SAYS…,” perhaps the significant of her statement would be even clearer. If you were an open atheist, would you trust her to count your ballot?
Clerk Peters posted her comment on July 24th.
By July 25th, she had removed the comment, apparently realizing the danger it posed to her credibility as clerk:
It has been captured by this blog, however, where it will remain visible to all Mesa County citizens in perpetuity.