Mike Lindell is standing by a Colorado county clerk who was indicted on charges of breaching her county’s own voting machines ahead of a speech at the MyPillow CEO’s “Cyber Symposium” on supposed election fraud last summer.
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters became a star in Trumpist Big Lie circles after information from breached voting machines under her office’s supervision began appearing on conspiracy websites, accompanied by false claims that the data revealed election malfeasance. Peters herself promoted those conspiracy theories at Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” last August, after which she briefly went into hiding in one of Lindell’s “safe houses.”
But the only real election meddling was of Peters’ own making, officials say. On Tuesday night, a grand jury indicted Peters and one of her deputies on 16 combined charges for allegedly breaching the voting machines her office was supposed to oversee. Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein is bringing the case against Peters, who turned herself in to the Mesa County Detention Facility on Wednesday night. There was no listed attorney for Peters on court filings released Wednesday. Neither Scott Gessler, who has represented Peters in previous cases, or the “Tina Peters Legal Defense Fund” returned requests for comment on Wednesday evening.
Her bond has been set at $500,000. That hasn’t stopped Lindell from characterizing the criminal investigation as part of some greater conspiracy.
Asked on Wednesday whether Peters’ indictment troubled him, Lindell was unflappable, insisting was only a distraction from the “true criminals”—including Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
“You know what this indictment is, they're trying to cover it all up, because they committed crimes. Serious crimes. Griswold, Colorado, Dominion," Lindell told The Daily Beast, though he has not produced evidence of illegality. He added that the group, led by the election tech company Dominion—which is currently suing Lindell for more than a billion dollars on defamation charges—had "committed crimes against humanity.”
Griswold denied the pillow entrepreneur’s bizarre claims, pointing out that some theories pushed by Lindell and Peters have been associated with heightened risks of political violence.
“My job as secretary of state is to ensure that every eligible Coloradoan—Republican, Democrat, and independent, alike—has the right to have their voice heard in safe, secure elections,” Griswold told The Daily Beast. “I will continue to protect our elections and the right to vote, regardless of partisan affiliation. At the same time, we are seeing the worst attack on democracy in recent times, and this is part of it. This is part of the destabilization of American elections, and I will not let it happen so long as I am secretary of state.”
Griswold, whose office has been investigating Peters for the alleged voting machine breach, has become a frequent target of conspiracy theorists in Colorado and nation-wide.
Last month, Peters was briefly arrested for allegedly fighting with police over an iPad on which she was accused of illegally recording court proceedings. Peters posted bail and, hours after her arrest, attended a far-right gathering where another speaker called for Griswold’s death by hanging. Soon after the event, Peters announced that she would run against Griswold for Colorado secretary of state. The job would have Peters overseeing the state’s elections.
“Tina Peters was the first elections official in the nation to compromise her own voting equipment trying to prove the Big Lie,” Griswold said, adding that Peters had “embraced extremism and was actually on stage applauding as election deniers called for me to be hung. She’s tremendously unfit to see her county’s election and unfit to be the chief election official for the state of Colorado.”
Still, Peters’ supporters like Lindell have ratcheted up the rhetoric after her indictment.
"Mark my words, they're all going to end up in jail when this is all over," Lindell said, referring to Griswold, Dominion, and an implied network of unnamed Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans. (Dominion also denies all his allegations.)
The pillow magnate said investigators have not approached him about the data breach. But elsewhere in Colorado, Griswold’s office is investigating a similar apparent breach of voting machine data. In Elbert County, Clerk Dallas Schroeder is reportedly accused of making copies of voting machine data. In response to a civil lawsuit filed by Griswold’s office, Schroeder has claimed that two men helped him make copies of voting machine data.
Those men, Shawn Smith and Mark Cook, have promoted election fraud conspiracy theories on Lindell’s “Lindell TV” program, and Smith has described his group, “Cause of America,” as being funded by Lindell