Category: Ethics

Court legally bars Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters & Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from any involvement in the November elections

A District Court Judge today legally barred Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters from running elections in the county. Despite her refusal to faithfully carry out the duties of her elected office, displaying an overt political bias in regard to whom she believes should and should not win elections in Mesa County and her bizarre antics promoting false claims of widespread voter fraud, Peters will keep getting her taxpayer-funded salary and can only be removed from office by resigning or through a recall election.

Mesa County District Court Judge Valerie Robison today issued an injunction  officially preventing embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and her hand-picked Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley from having any involvement with the November elections. The ruling officially removed Peters as Designated Election Official and installed former Secretary of State Wayne Williams in that position. It also confirmed Sheila Riener as the Election Supervisor.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought against Peters and Knisley by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The suit was joined by Mesa County Commissioners Janet Rowland, Cody Davis and Scott McInnis, who were listed in the suit as intervenors.

Far right wing slate of school board candidates gin up anger and spread misunderstanding to raise funds

“Stand for the Constitution” supports Angela Lema, Andrea Haitz and Will Jones for School Board. They are ginning up hatred against the U.S. Department of Justice to try to raise funds for their campaign. The three are running as a far right wing extremist slate.

The three far-right wing candidates for District 51 School Board backed by the extremist group “Stand for the Constitution” — Angela Lema, Willie Jones and Andrea Haitz — together sent out a fundraising email today, titled “It’s Time to Get Politics Out of the Classroom,” aimed at generating anger towards the U.S. Department of Justice to raise money to help get them onto the school board.

The email’s subject line screams:

“The DOJ is coming after parents!”

The Grand Junction Area Chamber’s long track record of harmful candidate endorsements

Longtime Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke

Local candidates usually tout their endorsements by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, but the Chamber’s long track record of endorsing deeply flawed candidates shows that candidates should run from a Chamber endorsement as fast as they can, or at least politely decline it.

Observation of the Chamber’s endorsements going back a decade reveals that the Chamber does not evaluate candidates based on criteria like experience, background, education, knowledge or qualifications to hold office. Rather, the Chamber only considers a candidate’s political and religious ideology before endorsing them.

This extraordinarily narrow criteria has resulted in a flawed process that has proven detrimental to our community many, many times over.

D-51 School Board candidate Voter Guide for the 11/2/2021 election

NOTE: This article is longer than usual owing to the number of people running, the amount of information available on them and the need to put the practical meaning of Chamber endorsements in context so people can accurately grasp their significance. One photo in this article may be unsuitable for kids. Below is a brief summary of my vote recommendations for school board, if you don’t have time to read the whole article immediately:

Recommended Votes:

District C – Trish Mahre

District D – Nick Allan

District E – David Combs

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Following are summaries of the candidates running for District 51 School Board in the upcoming November 2 election. Sources of information included the candidates’ publicly available campaign and work websites, their campaign and personal social media, and other primary and authoritative online resources, including minutes of District 51 Board meetings and the website of Mesa County Libraries.

Daily Sentinel & Mesa County Public Health Department appear to take steps to shield CMU from criticism

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and Mesa County Public Health Department appear to be shielding Colorado Mesa University from public criticism over its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic by minimizing and obscuring information about Covid outbreaks and how the school is handling cases.

Buried towards the end of an article in today’s Sentinel about Covid cases in area schools was a reference to a situation in which a CMU student who was sick with Covid-19 and quarantined in Piñon Hall failed to get any food delivered for two days. The paper referred to the situation as “one minor communications issue” and made it sound like the student was to blame, along with a single poster in the dorm.

Quarantined CMU student reports not getting food, help or medical attention

New CMU President John Marshall (Photo: Twitter, @MesaVeep)

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) students currently being quarantined in Piñon Hall after being exposed to Covid-19, or who are currently sick with Covid, are telling their parents there is no one stationed in the dorm to help them, and that the school is not providing them with medical attention or even food.

Colorado Public Radio (CPR) published an article September 9 titled, “To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate. At Colorado Mesa University, that was the conversation,” about CMU President John Marshall’s hands-off approach to controlling the Coronavirus pandemic. Currently CMU does not require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19, or to use face coverings, and does not allow instructors to enforce mask-wearing in classrooms — a recipe to spread the Coronavirus, especially with the more communicable Delta variant widespread in Mesa County, and where, according to the Mesa County Public Health Department, only 25-29% of people between the ages of 19 and 29 are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

CMU President John Marshall’s spin on the Israeli study matches TheGatewayPundit’s spin on the same study

The information CMU President John Marshall promoted in an email about an un-peer-reviewed Israeli study, and the key information that he left out, matches that of the right wing conspiracy website TheGatewayPundit.com (Photo: Twitter @maverickprez)

On August 27, 2021, the conspiracy website TheGatewayPundit.com posted an article strongly promoting a “new study out of Israel” that touted natural immunity against Covid-19 over the immunity provided by vaccines. The Gateway Pundit article headline said people who have recovered from COVID-19 have more protection against the virus than people who’ve only been vaccinated. The study the website pointed to as the source of this information was the very same un-peer reviewed Israeli preprint on MedRxIv.org with a warning label that CMU President John Marshall pointed to as the basis for his August 30 “Campus Safety” email to staff promoting the protective value of natural immunity to Covid-19.

CMU President John Marshall cites unreliable preprint as a basis for the school’s weak Covid-19 response

New CMU President John Marshall has never published a single article in a peer-reviewed journal, and appears oblivious to the importance of the peer-review process in citing medical research as the basis for campus health policy. (Photo: Twitter, @MesaVeep)

New Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President John Marshall on August 30 cited a non-peer-reviewed study that bears a boldfaced warning label saying it might contain errors and be incorrect, as a basis for the school’s disturbingly weak mitigation plan against Covid-19 that is terrorizing staff.

The Agency of the Irresponsible

The following commentary on how Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is handling the coronavirus pandemic was written by CMU History Professor Sarah Swedberg, who is now experiencing CMU’s policies in person. This article was originally published on Nursing Clio, an open-access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that ties historical scholarship to present-day issues related to gender and medicine. The article is reprinted here with full permission from Dr. Swedberg.

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Like many faculty at state universities, the beginning of this school year brings me more terror than excitement. Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the institution at which I have taught since 1999, will require neither masks nor vaccines for students, and faculty cannot enforce mask mandates in the classrooms. This flies in the face of best practices for public health. When I asked the reason for this policy, I was told that there were strong feelings on both sides.

“Strong feelings” is clearly code for the fact that CMU is in a politically conservative region where there is strong resistance to both vaccination and masks. These words remind us that public health measures have always been politicized. Because I teach about HIV and AIDS and because I was a young adult in the 1980s, it is that pandemic that is foremost in my mind as I try to negotiate my own and my students’ safety.

Secretary of State lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk also names Deputy Clerk Belinda Knisley

Belinda Knisley is described in the SOS lawsuit as “absent and/or unable to perform her duties,” like Tina Peters

The text of the Secretary of State’s lawsuit against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (pdf) essentially says Deputy Clerk and Recorder Belinda Knisley lied to State employees with Tina Peters’ knowledge when she told them a non-employee County Elections staff allowed to access voting equipment last May was a County employee, when in fact he was not, and had never been a County employee. Knisley, described in the suit as a “possible successor” to Tina Peters in the Elections Department, is specifically named as a Respondent in the suit in addition to Peters.

Secretary of State pursuing ethics complaint against Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

Trump supporter, election conspiracy theorist and Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is under criminal investigation by three agencies for allegedly compromising voting equipment.

At least one ethics complaint submitted to the State of Colorado about Mesa County’s crazy Clerk Tina Peters is starting to bear fruit.

Luis Lipchak, the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Enforcement Manager, determined that a complaint by Mesa County resident Scott Bielfuss (pdf) alleging that Peters violated campaign finance laws has merit and their office has decided to pursue it.

Bielfuss alleged that Peters “flew up to Mr Pillows cybers-symposium on a private plane provided to her and is staying as a guest of the Pillow foundation in clear violation of accepting gift laws. Complainant [Bielfuss] alleges that by engaging in the aforementioned activities, Respondent [Peters] failed to report contributions or expenditures associated with said activities and accepted gifts over allowed amounts.”

Taxpayers pay increasing bills for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ loony behavior

Wayne Williams, via Wikipedia, photo By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72780852

Item #7 on the agenda at the Mesa County Commissioners’ meeting tomorrow (Monday, August 30) at 9:00a.m., is signing a contract, (pdf) drafted by former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams himself, that will officially make Williams Mesa County’s Designated Election Official (“DEO”) for the November 2021 coordinated election for the County. The contract says Williams will get a salary of $180/hour, discounted from his normal rate of $400/hour, and Mesa County will pay any non-lawyer assistants Williams taps from his law firm for help at the rate of $50/hour. The County will also pay Williams’ travel expenses to and from his home in Colorado Springs.

There is no stated maximum expense Mesa County will incur from retaining Williams for this position. Rather, the contract states the expense can be unlimited:

“Any estimate of fees and costs that we may have discussed is only an estimate, and is not an agreement to a fixed or maximum fee. Accordingly, we have made no commitment concerning the maximum fees and costs that will be necessary to resolve or complete this matter.”

CMU to host another superspreader event on 8/27

As if holding one massive superspreader event to kick off Colorado Mesa University’s fall ’21 semester wasn’t enough of a public health threat to students and the community, in today’s Daily Sentinel, CMU is advertising another big event on August 27th to be held inside the Meyer Ballroom in the University Center that involves eating, dancing and drinking alcohol.

The ad does not mention any coronavirus precautions being used at the event, like proof of a negative Covid-19 test, proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or masks or physical distancing.

Have you seen this woman?

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters fled the state with My Pillow Guy and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, and is currently on the run from multiple criminal investigations into her alleged actions to compromise election security in Mesa County.

SOS to appoint replacement for Peters while Mesa County Commissioners hold a meeting tonight to decide whether to appoint a replacement for Peters

Yes, you read that right.

Denver news is reporting (video) that the Secretary of State will strip Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters of power and “appoint someone other than [Mesa County] Clerk Tina Peters to oversee Mesa County’s elections.”

At the same time, the Mesa County Commissioners are holding a special meeting tonight to consider only one item:  deciding whether to “approve or deny” an apparent replacement for Tina Peters.

Consider and approve or deny the conditional appointment of a designated election official pursuant to C.R.S. 1-1-104(8).  (Todd Starr, County Attorney)

This begs the question: Why are the County Commissioners holding a meeting to decide whether or not to replace Peters when the Secretary of State is already going to replace her? Is it just right wing theater to placate the batsh*t crazy “Stand for the Constitution” crowd? Or what is going on here?

The Commissioners don’t usually hold public meetings about personnel matters. They didn’t do it when Mesa County was dealing with County Administrator Frank Whidden and his multiple age discriminations lawsuits, charges of sexual harassment and other sordid situations.

The Commissioners’ single meeting agenda item has the name of County Attorney Todd Starr beneath it, so I called Starr’s office to ask why this meeting was being held. Someone answered the call who claimed to have absolutely no idea whatsoever about the meeting, who said no one was there who did, and said it was all the County Commissioners’ doing. That person referred me to the County Commissioners’ office. A call to the County Commissioners’ office was answered by someone who said they had no idea why the meeting was being held, and referred me back to the County Attorney’s office.

It was the classic Mesa County runaround.

At the same time, reports are that the FBI has now joined in the criminal investigation of Clerk Tina Peters.

So confusion reigns from top to bottom now inside Mesa County government, as Peters’ elected Republican pals struggle to figure out how to deal with what looks more and more like a criminal County Clerk who intentionally facilitated a security breach that compromised Mesa County’s own voting equipment.

Rose Pugliese can’t possibly run for Secretary of State now, or for any office anywhere, ever

Rumors are that former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese hopes to run as the Republican candidate for Colorado Secretary of State, but thanks to the recent antics of her Republican pal, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, there is no clearer indication anywhere on Earth that any candidate is so absolutely unsuited for office than Rose Pugliese is for Colorado Secretary of State.

Pugliese endorsed Peters for Mesa County Clerk in 2018. 

That’s all anyone needs to know, and it should put an immediate end to Rose’s political ambitions in Colorado, forever, period.

CO Secretary of State Griswold: “All evidence shows” Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters assisted in a security breach; S.O.S. decertifies Mesa County’s voting equipment

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (Photo: State of Colorado)

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold gave a press conference today (video) in which she revealed that last May 25th, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters permitted an unauthorized non-employee of the Elections Department to participate in a highly sensitive annual security inspection of Mesa County’s voting equipment called a Trusted Build. The name of the non-employee entered into the log that day was “Gerald Wood,” and Griswold revealed that Woods’ name was entered into the log by the Mesa County Clerk herself. Griswold noted that the non-employee “swiped in, but did not swipe out.”

“This was a breach,” Griswold said. “He was not an employee and he was not background checked. The Clerk misled the Secretary of State’s office about this information.”

Griswold said,

“To be very clear, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder allowed a security breach and by all evidence at this point, assisted it.”

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, defiant amid criminal investigation by Secretary of State, appears as “whistleblower” guest speaker at My Pillow guy’s Cyber Symposium

The Daily Sentinel reported today that Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ office is under criminal investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) for an alleged election system security breach in which secret passwords to Mesa County’s voting machines were leaked and exposed on a right wing blog called GatewayPundit.