First, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon raised hundreds of millions of dollars from Trump supporters using his private fundraising campaign, “We Build the Wall,” that promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Bannon promised gullible MAGA-heads that “100% of the funds raised …[would] be used in the execution of our mission and purpose.” But Bannon and his associates diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the campaign to pay their own personal expenses and credit card debt, buy expensive luxury items like jewelry, home renovations, high-end SUVs, plastic surgery and golf carts. Law enforcement agents arrested Bannon in August of 2020 on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud while he was off the coast of Connecticut, lounging on a 150-foot long super-yacht owned by a Chinese billionaire.
Trump pardoned Bannon of these crimes before leaving office in 2021, which is why Bannon was never prosecuted for them.
“Official Election Defense Fund” scam
Then, between the general election in November, 2020 and the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Trump sent millions of emails to small-donor MAGA-heads telling them the “left wing mob” was undermining the election, and promoting his “Official Election Defense Fund.” Trump told supporters they needed to “step up and protect the integrity of the election” and “fight back” by donating to his fund. But the Jan 6 Select Committee’s investigation revealed no “Official Election Defense Fund” actually existed. Trump’s closest allies, legal advisors, campaign officials, and family members all knew Trump’s claims of voter fraud were false, and all of them told Trump they were false. But Trump persisted in telling his followers lies about the election nonetheless, because doing so was generating money. His “Official Election Defense Fund” was just another marketing gimmick Trump used to bilk supporters. Trump diverted the money raised by the fund to his hotels and pro-Trump organizations that were either started or run by former Trump administration officials. $5 million of it went to pay off the company that organized the January 6 rally on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C.
Lies bring in big money
Then Trump created still another entity called the “Save America PAC” that he also marketed as an “election defense” fund, while in reality most of the money the PAC raised went to organizations that support Trump, including his hotel collection. The Save America PAC is also responsible for spreading additional lies that helped Trump bring in money, including that Hillary Clinton spied on Trump’s campaign.
Former President Trump and his supporters have repeatedly and aggressively pushed lies and extremist “causes” designed to appeal to low-donor MAGA-heads in order to get them to open their wallets and send him money, and then fraudulently used the money to pay off personal debts, funnel money to Trump’s acolytes and their causes, shore up Trump’s failing hotels, and donate to Trump’s allies and pet charities. In just one example, Trump’s fake “Election Defense Fund” paid Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a whopping $60,000 to give a 2.5 minute-long speech at the January 6 rally in D.C.
Trump’s habit of luring people with false claims in order to fleece them predated his stint as president.
Trump paid $2 million to settle a lawsuit about a fraudulent charity he established; he paid $25 million to settle a fraudulent “Trump University” lawsuit that found the “university” was designed to rip off students, and he was sued over a failed Baja California condo resort that fleeced 250 buyers out of hard-earned cash they paid for real estate that was never built.
Tina Peters has learned from all this
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has learned from Trump and adopted his grifting techniques. She’s effectively dumped her public service career as Clerk and Recorder for a far more lucrative career as a professional election denier, and is traveling the country and helping destroy democracy by repeating ad nauseam Trump’s Big Lie that American elections are somehow fraudulent and not to be trusted. Doing this has allowed Tina to raise large sums of unrestricted money that she can spend on whatever she likes. She is enjoying her new-found celebrity, getting flown around the country on private jets, appearing on talk shows and giving lie-filled speeches to adoring audiences while asking her supporters to open their wallets and donate to her campaign and criminal defense fund. She stays in nice hotels and eats nice meals compliments of her campaign donors, and she’s raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from her benefactor, multi-millionaire Mike Lindell, as well as plenty of gullible small donors, all while continuing to draw her taxpayer-funded $92,000/year salary plus health insurance benefits while prohibited by the Court from working in the Clerk’s office.
On the way to fame and fortune, Tina has advanced her own grift by using other people without concern for how badly she harms them. Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisely bought into Tina’s lies and helped carry out her crimes, only to face felony charges and a potential prison term as a result. Tina stole Fruita resident Gerald Wood’s identity without a second thought about the legal jeopardy her actions put him in. Tina pulled Julie Fisher, yet another Clerk’s Office employee, into her mess, too. Fisher is the one who Tina tried to appoint to the non-existent position of “Second Deputy Chief Clerk.” As a result, Fisher is now named in a court ruling against Tina as an accomplice to Tina’s crimes, and is yet another person in the Clerk’s office officially deemed incompetent to run elections.
Tina acts like the Colorado anti-corrpution law that prohibits elected officials from accepting any gifts valued at over $65 while they’re in office just doesn’t pertain to her, and her supporters look the other way while she continuously violates this law.
Tina Peters lacks morals and character and is gleefully contributing to social division and the destruction of democracy by spreading outright lies about our elections. She’s following Trump’s playbook to the letter on how to keep stirring up anger in order to grift off her supporters. She’s getting rich and famous from it, and that now appears to be her main goal.
Anyone who votes for Tina Peters for any public office, or who donates any money to her, must be incomprehensibly stupid, and in the words of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, is doing the moral equivalent of drinking Drano.