Category: Republicans violating laws

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters stonewalling list of voters whose ballots were lost

Mesa County citizens are trying to recall Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters for inept operation of her office, including forgetting 574 ballots in a collection box from the November, 2019 general election.

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) has not complied with several Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests seeking a copy of a spreadsheet her office created containing the names of the 574+ disenfranchised voters whose ballots her office failed count in the November, 2019 general election.

The ballots were left in a collection box after the election and were not retrieved or counted. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold called the oversight a “serious dereliction of duty.”

Clerk Peters ordered the creation of the list.

Several former Clerk’s office employees report that Ms. Peters asked Sandra Brown, another Clerk’s Office employee, to create a spreadsheet of the names of all the voters whose ballots weren’t counted so Ms. Peters could send them each a written apology.

Internal emails from the County Clerk’s office support claims that the list in fact exists. In the emails, Peters asks other employees not to distract Ms. Brown from the task of creating the list, so she could finish it quickly.

Why not Ray Scott? Consider his past as an elected official.

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott

What do you know about State Senator Ray Scott, who is currently a candidate for Mesa County Commissioner?

One question people have about Scott is, if he is already a state senator and his term doesn’t expire until 2022, why is he running for county commissioner? Why doesn’t he want to finish his term in the State Senate?

The answer?

Money.

Scott makes $30,000/year and a $45/day per diem as a state senator.

As a county commissioner, he would more than triple his salary. The salary for a county commissioner is now $92,681, not including benefits and perks, like insurance, use of vehicles, etc. — more than three times the average salary in Mesa County.

Republican Commissioner candidate Cody Davis shown violating the law in latest ad

Republican Mesa County Commissioner candidate is shown trespassing on the Grand Valley Canal banks in his latest ad.

Republican Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis shows himself walking on the banks of the Grand Valley Canal in his latest TV ad. The Grand Valley Canal is also known as the Government Highline Canal, and technically, public use of the Grand Valley Canal maintenance roads is trespassing. Signs are posted all along the canal banks with the warning “NO trespassing. Violators will be PROSECUTED.” No one has ever been arrested or charged with trespassing for walking, biking, jogging or skiing on the canal banks, though, according to former three-term Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, who said that trespassing on the canal banks is “basically the lowest priority misdemeanor there is” for the Sheriff’s Department. Trespassing on the canal banks is akin to a time-honored pastime, which is probably what led Cody Davis to trespass on the canal banks — obviously without even thinking about it — in his latest ad.

The only thing that would make it legal would be if he or his family owns the land on which he is seen walking and has given the Bureau of Reclamation or Grand Valley Water Users an easement.

More about Janet Rowland when she was county commissioner the last time

First part of 2008 Daily Sentinel article showing how then-County Commissioner Janet Rowland used her religion to grandstand, portray herself as a martyr prior to an election and bring threats of lawsuits against the county.

Janet Rowland is running for Mesa County commissioner again, after having been a two-term Commissioner already from 2004-2012. Because of her past in that elected office, we have a historic record showing what she will be like in office if she gets elected again.

For the sake of the county and its taxpayers, it’s probably not something we want to go through again.

Mesa County Clerk ignoring qualified applicants for vacant positions

 

Tina Peters’ own qualification to be County Clerk were that she was a retired flight attendant who had worked for a construction business for a number of years and home-schooled her kids. [Photo: Facebook]

Over 24 employees have quit the Mesa County Clerk’s office since Tina Peters took over the office just 15 months ago.

All these vacant positions must put the Clerk’s office in a pretty dire situation, considering that it’s fully staffed at 32 employees.

You’d think the Clerk would be scrambling to hire qualified people to fill these open positions, especially in an election year, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Job Openings web page for Mesa County lists vacancies in the Clerk’s office for Customer Service, Motor Vehicle and Elections Managers. Some of these positions have been unfilled for months.

But it doesn’t seem to be due to a lack of qualified applicants.

Could County Clerk Tina Peters be criminally liable for ballot loss scandal?

Tina Peters might have more legal exposure than previously recognized for having lost 574 ballots from the 2018 general election.

Colorado laws governing the conduct of elections include “neglect” and “failure to perform duties” among the list of behaviors by elected officials deemed punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both:

“1-13-107. Violation of duty.

Any public officer, election official, or other person upon whom any duty is imposed by this code who violates, neglects, or fails to perform such duty or is guilty of corrupt conduct … and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in section 1-13-111.”

Tina Peters arguably violated, neglected and failed to perform her duty to count all ballots turned into the County in the 2018 general election.

Contrary to what the Mesa County Republican Party has asserted, this is not a trivial matter.

Mesa County GOP: County Clerk Tina Peters’ loss of 574 ballots “trivial”

Embattled Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters (R) may have violated Colorado laws governing elected officials’ conduct of elections. (Photo: YouTube)

The Mesa County Republican Party is trying to minimize the severity of Tina Peters’ loss of 574 ballots from the 2019 general election. Peters left them in a collection box, forgetting to count them. The Mesa County GOP characterized the matter in a February 24, 2020 press release (pdf) as “trivial” and “unfortunate.” The GOP said it was not trying to “diminish the significance of the errors,” and at the same time claimed the matter had been subject to “irresponsible sensationalism” because “no ballots were tampered with or lost,” and “no vote was changed or altered.”

The Republican Party has long made election integrity one of their prime issues, but apparently not so much when one of their own fails to count a significant number of legitimately-cast ballots.

It’s no wonder the GOP is trying to minimize the loss. The ramifications for Tina Peters could be severe, up to and including recall, and/or criminal penalties including fines, imprisonment or both.

Petition demands Tina Peters resign as County Clerk

Tina Peters, Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, neglected to collect and count 574 ballots in the 2018 general election. Mesa County residents have started a petition demanding she resign.

An online petition is up at Change.org demanding Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters resign her office in the wake of her shocking lost ballot scandal.

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, the County Clerk’s office found 574 ballots cast in the 2018 general election still sitting in the stainless steel ballot collection box in front of the Clerk’s Elections Division office at 200 S. Spruce Street in downtown Grand Junction.

At first Peters took full responsibility for having forgotten to collect the ballots, which earned her some good will, but in a day or two she was blaming an unnamed former Clerk’s office employee for the error, enraging the public and flushing any good will she had gleaned by taking full responsibility.

The Daily Sentinel published an editorial February 22 demanding Peters resign.

Peters claimed the missing ballots wouldn’t have changed the outcome of any of the elections, but did not demonstrate this to the public.

Republican Party sends out fake census forms just as real census begins

Republicans are sending out fake “Census” forms to try and fool voters into thinking they’ve already answered the 2020 census

Republicans are sending out fake “census” forms to voters in an attempt to fool people out of participating in the real government census. The fake form also tries to convince recipients to send money to the Republican Party.

The administrator of a private Facebook group called “The Left Slope” posted photos on Facebook of a fake “census” form he got in the mail, sent by the Republican Party. Republicans designed the mailing specifically to resemble an official Census form, with a sheet containing survey questions. The mailer also has big letters declaring that it is the “2020 Congressional District Census.”

Mesa County Clerk stumbles onto 500+ uncounted ballots from 2019 city/county election

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was elected despite having zero experience as a government clerk.

The Daily Sentinel reports that when Mesa County Clerk employees went out to collect the early Democratic primary election ballots from the silver box in front of the County building downtown, they found more than 500 ballots from last year’s election sitting inside, unopened and uncounted.

I hate to say it, but…

I told you so.

Back in June, 2018 I wrote a blog about the candidates running for County Clerk that year. I pointed out that Tina Peters had absolutely zero experience in the clerk’s office, while the other candidate, Bobbie Gross, was a ten year veteran of the County Clerk’s office in charge of the entire DMV and its employees, had co-directed the 2016 presidential election in Mesa County, was a Certified Elections Official and was about to become a Certified National Elections Administrator by the end of 2018.

The choice was clear.

Modern-day Republicans oppose progress

Results of a news quiz printed in today’s Daily Sentinel demonstrates the backwards thinking that is the hallmark of conservative, right-wing Republicans.

A short blurb in the Sunday, Feb. 8, 2020 Daily Sentinel offers a lesson on why Republicans are such harmful elected officials.

The Sentinel has a regular weekly news quiz on Fridays, and gives the results in the following Sunday paper. An item today stood out for what it demonstrates about the ramifications of conservative Republican views not just for the western slope, but for society.

History shows that if Republicans had their way in the last century, most of America wouldn’t have electricity.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the President’s guilt, CO Sen. Cory Gardner votes to acquit him

Republican Cory Gardner voted to protect Trump, who was documented to have violated U.S. law, from removal from office.

Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner voted this afternoon to acquit President Trump of the high crimes of obstructing Congress and abusing the power of his office, even though House Representatives presented overwhelming evidence during the impeachment trial that the President was guilty on both charges. A vote of two thirds of the Senate was required to convict the President. With the exception of a single Republican vote by Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to remove the President, the vote was divided along party lines.

The House accused the President of withholding taxpayer funds destined for Ukraine in an attempt to force Ukraine to announce fake investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden — a move that Trump envisioned would advantage him in the 2020 elections — and of blocking Congress from accessing witnesses and documents pertinent to the President’s actions.

GAO concluded Trump broke the law

Rallies to support impeachment planned in G.J. and across the nation

A rally to urge Colorado’s elected officials to impeach and remove President Donald Trump is planned in Grand Junction on Tuesday, December 17 at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot behind the federal building  at 400 Rood Ave. Senator Cory Gardner’s office is in the federal building on Rood and House Representative Tipton’s office is in the Alpine Bank Building next door.

This national mobilization is scheduled the day before the House of Representatives is expected to vote on adopting two Articles of Impeachment (pdf) against President Trump that the House Judiciary Committee approved on Friday, December 13. The articles describe high crimes and misdemeanors the President has committed while in office:

Why Trump is being impeached: a helpful explanation for western slope Republicans

President Donald J. Trump

The large number of Trump supporters living on Colorado’s western slope no doubt vehemently oppose his impeachment. This blog is to help them understand why impeaching the President is imperative to protect our country, our democracy and our national sovereignty.

Trump has broken important U.S. laws, multiple times. In so doing, he has demonstrated that he poses a profound threat to our country. One of the laws he violated protects our country from foreign interference at very high levels of government:

Soliciting foreign interference in our elections

Trump has repeatedly invited foreign interference in our elections to benefit himself, an act that violates 52 U.S. Code § 30121, titled “Contributions and donations by foreign nationals.” This law states it is illegal for a person to solicit or accept “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from a foreign national, “or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election” with a foreign national.

Court Settlement: State Senator Ray Scott must unblock constituents from his social media

Ray Scott

Senator Ray Scott blocked and banned constituents from his social media accounts simply for disagreeing with him on his policies. Then he got sued.

Every elected official in Colorado is now on notice: you cannot block constituents from your official social media accounts because they don’t agree with your point of view. If you do, you’re breaking the law.

ACLU of Colorado announced a settlement (pdf) today on behalf of Anne Landman, a constituent who State Senator Ray Scott blocked from his official social media accounts in 2017 after she was publicly critical of several of his policy positions. As a result of the lawsuit, Scott has now unblocked Landman and must refrain from censoring anyone else with critical viewpoints from his social media accounts as a Senator, or in any future elected position. 

“The overwhelming majority of cases has made very clear that the official social media pages of public officials, like Senator Scott’s, are public forums where individual’s speech is constitutionally protected,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Sara Neel. “Recognizing this, Senator Scott has agreed to unblock all users from his social media pages and will not block anyone else in the future based on viewpoint.” 

“Recall Polis” campaign violating laws to gather signatures – county passes Resolution prohibiting taping signs to their buildings

The Recall Polis people at 4:00 p.m. on 8/29/19 violating the law by setting up shop in a public park without obtaining the necessary permits from the City Parks and Rec Department.

Upset citizens have been contacting the City of Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department and the Mesa County Elections Bureau left and right to complain about the “Recall Polis” campaign violating laws by putting up tables and signage in places that require permitting or where it is prohibited by law.

In the photo above, the Recall Polis people had set up their operation at Spring Valley Park on Patterson Road, a public park. A reader sent the above photo and complained to the City about it, upon which G.J. Parks and Rec Department responded:

 

Tim Foster’s political stumping as CMU president may violate laws

Ad posted by Janet Rowland may violate the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act

[Update 8/14/19: Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland pulled this ad from her Facebook page after this article was published].

People are questioning whether an ad that Mesa County Commissioner candidate Janet Rowland recently posted on her campaign Facebook page violates the law.

In the ad, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster endorses Rowland for commissioner in his capacity as president of CMU, not as a private individual as the law requires. The law says Foster is permitted to make such an endorsement, but ONLY in his capacity as a private individual; he is specifically prohibited from using his position as a state employee for politicking or attempting to influence an election.

The ad appears to violate two separate federal laws: the Hatch Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

Technical guidance issued for state employees by the Colorado’s Division of Human Resources (pdf) on the implementation of these laws states,

“The Hatch Act limits the political activities of individuals employed in state departments and higher education institutions (departments) that have programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants.”

CMU accepts federal funding, thus Foster is subject to both laws.