State GOP Chair candidate Tina Peters says legal battles won’t impede her ability to lead party
MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Despite split verdicts from a jury Friday, including being found guilty on a misdemeanor obstruction charge, former Mesa County Clerk and candidate for Colorado GOP Chair Tina Peters says her legal battles won't impede her ability to lead the state's Republican party.
The two charges in the trial – obstructing government operations and obstructing a peace officer – stemmed from an incident in February 2022. Police said Peters refused to give up an iPad as part of a search warrant.
Peters said that the incident and trial that followed should never have happened, believing the charges against her in this case and others are being brought forward because she spoke out about election security concerns.
"It's important to know that they're using lawfare to hide the fact of their criminality," claims Peters.
Dan Rubinstein, District Attorney for the 21st Judicial District, said the February 2022 incident began in the court hearing of Peter's deputy clerk Belinda Knisely.
"Miss Peters was attending a court appearance for her deputy clerk, Belinda Knisely, and it appeared that she was recording the proceedings on her iPad," said Rubinstein, "which is something that people are prohibited from doing, which is making a recording of the official proceedings. We alerted Judge Barrett to that and he questioned her, and she denied that she had recorded it."
According to Rubinstein, the judge made a finding that he was unable to tell if she recorded it.
"It was very clear from listening to Judge Barrett that he wanted me to investigate for him," said Rubinstein.
Rubinstein said investigators with the District Attorney's Office served a search warrant to obtain the iPad in question from Peters.
"They followed her to the local bagel shop about a block away to try to seize the iPad pursuant to the court order, commanding them to do so," said Rubenstein. "When they tried to get the iPad, she wouldn't give it to them."
Rubenstein said Peters tried to pass the iPad around to various friends to keep it from law enforcement. Following that interaction, he filed two charges against Peters.
Peters said she believes the recording allegations were fabricated to get access to her iPad, and though the jury found her guilty of obstructing government operations, she is more than fit to lead the party.
"If you're being fearful, then you're letting the tactics of the very people that want to steal your voice, you're allowing them to succeed," said Peters. "So, you have to stop being fearful. Yes, they're going to go after people like me, that's a threat to them."
Rubinstein said Peters could serve up to six months in jail, pay a $750 fine, be put on probation, or be told to complete community service because of the conviction.
Peters, however, does not believe she will serve any jail time in connection to the trial and it will bear no impact on her run for chair of the Colorado GOP.
"I promise you I'm not going to jail," said Peters. "This is not a jailable offense, so I'm not worried at all."
Peters said she and her legal team plan to either appeal the verdict or pay a fine.
The sentencing for this trial is set to take place in early April.