Colorado's secretary of state, running for re-election, takes to the air with spots paid for by taxpayers

The actions of Colorado's Democrat secretary of state (SOS), Jena Griswold, could amount to electioneering in support of her re-election bid, even though she's trying to portray herself as a force for good.

The SOS has also been involved for years in quite a drama with Republican candidate Tina Peters.  Griswold ordered a raid on Peters's office when she was not there in August 2021, an action that made Peters something of a folk hero on the political right.

A year later, on August 12, Griswold, who is running for re-election, instituted a campaign against "disinformation" concerning elections.  It included a press release; a 30-second ad; and a 15-second ad showing Griswold with the former secretary, Wayne Williams, who is a Republican, telling voters that Colorado elections are safe and secure and advising voters to be careful of disinformation.

My experience is that when a government official or Democrat warns about disinformation, he is the one spreading the disinformation, and he wants to censor you.

The happily bipartisan ads show Griswold in a good light, cooperating with a Republican, which may amount to electioneering — a large percentage of Colorado voters are independents — because Griswold put the ad out with state funds as a function of her office.  Also, this impression is at odds with what Coloradoans know about Griswold — that is, by her comments, she had shown that she is highly partisan.

Colorado Republicans were certainly not happy about the ads, according to Colorado Politics.  Current Republican candidate Pam Anderson, who seems to have won the primary, though Peters doesn't accept the result, asked Griswold to stop running them.

Most importantly, it seems that the ads were meant to defend against Tina Peters, county clerk for Mesa County, who had asked for and paid for a recount of the primary election results after she was defeated in her bid to become the Republican candidate.  Peters filed a suit against Griswold and 64 county clerks over a machine recount, which she deemed inadequate, on August 11.  

The press release Griswold issued on August 12 in Denver speaks to voters in an effort to educate the voters (read: rubes) not to believe disinformation.

Following the completion of the first statewide recount in decades, Coloradans across the state will continue to see reminders from Secretary of State Jena Griswold and former Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams to be aware of election disinformation.

As part of the Secretary of State Office's ongoing efforts to address election disinformation, this bipartisan outreach initiative will continue to remind voters to use trusted sources for accurate election information. 

Disinformation about Colorado's elections continues to spread and was amplified during the course of the recount. Colorado has some of the most secure elections in the country, and it is vital that voters receive accurate information so they can be confident when going to cast a ballot in our state's elections," said Secretary Griswold. "I am glad to join former Secretary of State Wayne Williams with the bipartisan message that our elections are free, fair, and secure and that voters should use trusted sources for election information.

The 2022 primary election was safe, secure and reflective of the will of the people. It was confirmed by both a bipartisan risk limiting audit and the statewide of the Republican Primary for Secretary of State and Senate District 9 on August 4, 2022.

Why would Peters file a suit?  A complaint letter filed to Griswold by Peters on July 12, 2022 states that the candidate believes that "extensive malfeasance" occurred in the primary; specifically, Peters asserts that there were issues with the machines used for counting votes.  Peters asked for a hand recount, but Griswold did a machine recount.

Is Peters just a sore loser, or is there something to her complaints?  It's hard to say, especially because Griswold and Peters, who has had some tragic events in her life, have quite a dramatic backstory.

The Colorado Sun gives one rundown of the trouble, but here are the most important turning points: a Mesa County grand jury indicted Peters of  "10 counts of felony and misdemeanor charges, including attempting to influence a public servant, criminal impersonation, identity theft and first-degree official misconduct."  The deputy county clerk Belinda Knisely was also charged with six counts of her own, "including attempting to influence a public servant, violation of duty and failing to comply with the secretary of state."   The two turned themselves in.  The indictment did not preclude Peters running for secretary of state, and she did just that.  Republican leaders asked her to drop out of the race.  She did not, and when she did not win, Peters did not think the matter was closed.  She asked for and paid about $250,000 for a hand recount but received a machine recount, so she sued.

Griswold has 21 days to respond to the injunction.

C.S. Boddie writes for Meadowlark Press, LLC.

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.

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