Dominion Voting Systems is suing MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages. They accuse Lindell of spreading baseless conspiracy theories about the security of Dominion’s election machines that have hurt the company’s reputation.
Meanwhile, Lindell is harboring Tina Peters, the Clerk and Recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, who hasn’t been to work or seen in public for nearly a month. Back in August, while Peters was attending Lindell’s election conspiracy conference in Minnesota, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein announced an investigation into a May security breach during a routine software upgrade of Dominion’s machine software.
The details are a little murky but clearly sketchy as hell. County Clerk Peters allowed an unauthorized person to attend the software upgrade, which was verified by looking at a log book. Then two things happened. The unauthorized person published the passwords for the software on one of the world’s shittiest websites, Gateway Pundit. Photos and videos from the upgrade were also published by Ron Watkins, “an influential member of the QAnon conspiracy movement” who many suspect of being Q himself.
When this was first reported, the story was focused on the decision of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to decertify Mesa County’s machines. Since the machines integrity could no longer be assured, the county would either have to replace them or do a hand count in future elections. It appears the county opted to sign a nearly million dollar contract with Dominion for new machines.
That’s a lot of money for a rural Coloradan county, but that doesn’t mean Peters is on the political hot seat.
Mesa County is a conservative area where voters strongly backed Trump last fall. While some residents say they want Peters voted out of office or recalled, she also has vocal backers. Recently, several hundred supporters gathered for a rally outside the clerk’s office, chanting, “We love Tina!”
While Lindell helps Peters hide, there are other problems at the office.
On Thursday her deputy, Belinda Knisley, was charged with second-degree burglary and a cybercrime over entering the building while she was suspended, pending an investigation into unprofessional and inappropriate conduct in the workplace.
It’s a lot of strange behavior, for sure, all seemingly driven by a form of madness. But it’s a madness that is metastasizing by design. As ProPublica reported this week, there is a nationwide movement spurred on by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon to have conservative conspiracy nuts take over the lower echelons of the GOP.
When the [January 6] insurrection failed, Bannon continued his campaign for his former boss by other means. On his “War Room” podcast, which has tens of millions of downloads, Bannon said President Trump lost because the Republican Party sold him out. “This is your call to action,” Bannon said in February, a few weeks after Trump had pardoned him of federal fraud charges.
The solution, Bannon announced, was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. “It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option,” Bannon said on his show in May. “We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.”
Precinct officers are the worker bees of political parties, typically responsible for routine tasks like making phone calls or knocking on doors. But collectively, they can influence how elections are run. In some states, they have a say in choosing poll workers, and in others they help pick members of boards that oversee elections.
The plan is working.
After Steve Bannon called on “deplorables” to take over the Republican Party from the bottom up, ProPublica interviewed county chairs in competitive states to find out if they’ve seen a sudden increase in local-level party officers. Forty-one out of 65 key counties surveyed reported an unusual increase in precinct officers or the local equivalent.
Hopefully, you can anticipate where this is going. These folks aren’t put in place to run free and fair elections. Their purpose is the exact opposite. Their job is to make sure the Republicans win. Their very presence will undermine faith in the integrity of our election system because that integrity will be compromised. But this is a self-fulfilling prophesy because, for example, there was nothing wrong with 2020 presidential election results in Colorado. There was no reason to compromise the security of Mesa County’s election machines, forcing them to be replaced.
Bannon, of course, was pardoned by Trump which helped him beat federal charges of stealing funds from the “We Build The Wall” campaign–“a private effort to expand the U.S.-Mexico border wall.” He’s under criminal investigation for fraud in New York for the same scheme.
Meanwhile, people in Mesa County are wondering when Peter will return to work. She says she’s received threats, but they have a plan for that.
Local county commissioners say Peters needs to return to oversee the other parts of her job and staff.
“She’s in hiding by her own admission,” said Commissioner Scott McInnis, who like Peters is a Republican.
“We want to make sure we take the threats against her very, very seriously. We want to make sure she’s protected, but she needs to come back to work.”
Maybe Peters will eventually be charged with a crime. Maybe the people of Mesa County will decide they need an election’s clerk who shows up for work. Either way, she’s just a cog in a bigger more malignant machine. She’s a foot soldier in a fascist movement. Don’t laugh at her, because this is serious.