On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, District Court Judge Valerie Robison granted an injunction that prohibits Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from running elections through 2022, making it the second year that the two top officials in the Mesa County Clerk’s Office have been barred from having anything to do with elections.
No less important, though, were Judge Robison’s findings about current employee in the Clerk’s office and Republican candidate for County Clerk Julie Fisher, whom Tina Peters had dubbed her “Second Chief Deputy Clerk.”
Robison found Fisher did not have adequate experience in handling elections, hadn’t taken the election training provided by the Secretary of State and that the position Tina had appointed Fisher to, “Second Chief Deputy Clerk,” was a fake position.
The Court ruled “there is no statutory provision for the position of “Second Chief Deputy Clerk” in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office.
Essentially, Tina invented the “Second Chief Deputy Clerk” position to do an end run around the County Commissioners and the Court, and appoint her own hand-picked person to perform her job in her and Knisley’s absence.
But Judge Robison wasn’t having any of that.
On page 11 of the 36-page ruling, which is available to read in its entirety at Colorado Newsline’s website, Judge Robison wrote:
“On or about December 30, 2021, Peters appointed Julie Fisher as the ‘Second Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder.’ This was not a position contained in the ‘authorized position listing’ for authorized employees of Mesa County. Fisher had been originally hired to work in the Motor Vehicle Division of the Clerk and Recorder’s Office in 2020 and had little experience conducting an election. Fisher’s election experience consisted of having worked during the 2006 election in Adams County verifying signatures and doing new registrations. In 2008 Fisher had also worked as an election judge [poll worker]. Other election experience Fisher had was minimal and she acknowledged that she had never conducted an election. Additionally, Fisher testified that she had never been a DEO [Designated Elections Official], had never been an Election Director, and had never held any job with the word ‘election’ in the title. The criteria used by Peters to appoint Fisher as the ‘Second Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder’ was not explained. [Director of Human Resources for Mesa County] Ms. [Brenda] Moore testified that Fisher is not listed as ‘chief deputy’ of the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, second or otherwise. Instead, Fisher is an hourly employee that was hired to work in the Mesa County Motor Vehicle Division.”
On page 34 of the ruling, Robison points out that “Fisher has not completed the election training offered by the Secretary [of State]…”
…and on Page 8, Robison discloses that Fisher was complicit in helping Knisley evade her suspension from the workplace and orders from the County to stay out of any secured areas and stay away from the Clerk’s Office entirely:
“Fisher facilitated Knisley’s entry into secured area, not questioning why they were using Fisher’s security access and not Knisley’s. Fisher stated she knew Knisley did not have a key card that would be necessary to get into the secured areas. Despite knowing that Knisley had been suspended two days prior and without an access card to get into the secured area of the election offices, Fisher testified that she ‘did not know’ that Knisley was still on administrative leave of August 25, 2021.”
The Court’s findings that Fisher helped facilitate the Peters-Knisley debacle, Fisher’s dishonesty, lack of experience and failure to obtain the required training in running elections, all indicate Mesa County residents are in for more Tina Peters-style trouble if Fisher gets elected as County Clerk. All this and a willingness, even eagerness to circumvent laws and rules, are the very same characteristics that have gotten us into the mess we’re in now with Tina and Belinda.
Frankly, all of the information revealed about Fisher in this Court ruling serve to completely undermine’s Fisher’s credibility as a candidate, and make it clear that she is unsuitable to serve as County Clerk. It also gives good reason for Fisher to just drop out of the race entirely.
P.S. – So who WILL be running Mesa County’s elections in 2022? Robison appointed Brandi Bantz, the county’s Elections Director, to oversee this year’s elections, saying she is “clearly more qualified” than Fisher, the order says.