The chairman of the Mesa County Republican Party is calling on indicted Tina Peters to resign as Mesa County clerk.
Kevin McCarney, a long time supporter of Peters and an early supporter of former President Donald Trump long before he won the party’s nomination in 2016, said he’s fed up with backing her, saying she’s now acting like a petulant child crying about not getting her way.
All she is doing now is dragging down the party, McCarney said.
“It takes quite a bit to get me there, but she got me,” he said in an interview. “My real problem is, we (Republicans) have an election to win and a real chance to win it, and she’s not going to allow that to happen.”
In a letter to The Daily Sentinel that is to appear in Sunday’s edition, McCarney compared Peters to a character in an original Star Trek episode, “The Squire of Gothos,” of a seemingly all-powerful alien, Gen. Trelane, who abducts members of the crew but later turns out to be nothing more than a whimpering child.
“(He) breaks down at the end of the episode whining at his parents, ‘I was winning! I would have won,’ over and over again,” he wrote.
Peters could not be reached for comment.
McCarney admits to being embarrassed by supporting Peters in the past, saying she “sounds a lot more like a Democrat,” and is a member of the “Delusional Sore Loser Wing” of the Republican Party.
His support of Peters dates back years, since she first won the nomination for county clerk in 2018.
He also was one of the few who said Peters, a Republican, was not to blame for the 574 uncounted ballots from the 2019 general election that were discovered months later in a drop box steps away from the front door of her office during voting in the 2020 presidential primary.
In a press release posted on the party’s website that no longer appears there, McCarney wrote at the time that he had “complete confidence” in Peters, and called the ballot incident “trivial.” He even praised Peters for being transparent, even though she later blamed one of her former election managers and “elderly” election volunteers for not picking up the ballots.
“We are disappointed that so many have attempted to politically capitalize on this issue through irresponsible sensationalism,” McCarney wrote in that release. “We feel it imperative that the proper and measured response to this error should be made after a reasonable consideration of the facts and details of this unfortunate situation, a consideration which does not seem to have occurred thus far by Clerk Peters’ major detractors.”
Although McCarney did not join others in the county on calling on Peters to resign over that incident, he did call on Arapahoe County Clerk Joan Lopez, a Democrat, to resign, saying she was incompetent and engaging in election fixing when she made errors running the same 2019 general election, which did not include uncounted ballots.
McCarney said he first began to question Peters’ actions during her bid for the GOP nomination for secretary of state, saying the two of them had a tiff over a recent debate with fellow candidate Michael O’Donnell. Both ended up coming a distant second and third place to the eventual nominee, Pamela Anderson.
“She had done two things at our lunches in the last five or six months that just, it was like it was her lunch, it’s not my lunch, and I’m like, ‘No, you can’t do that to me,'” he said.
“The last one was when we were doing the debate for clerk and recorder, and she wanted to make it all about her, but I’m like, ‘You’ve already gotten your three minutes. Mike O’Donnell’s here. If I give you more time, I have to give him more time, and then I don’t have time for these candidates who are here to debate,'” McCarney added. “She sent me a really nasty voice mail message about how I screwed up the party and turned everyone against her. I said, ‘I will treat you fairly, but don’t ever call me again, don’t text me, don’t do anything. We’re done.'”
SUPPORTS CURRENT CANDIDATES
McCarney is well known for upholding the neutrality that is expected of all party officials when it comes to primary candidates, saying he’s 100% behind that practice.
But when Peters lost her bid, he said his job now is to support the primary candidates who did win.
While Mesa County commissioners have stopped short of demanding that Peters resign, they have said in the past that she should do so on her own, at least for the sake of the taxpayers.
Peters is still taking her $93,000-a-year salary as clerk, but not doing the job. She’s been barred from going into her office or having any contact with her staff as part of her bond conditions on 10 felony and misdemeanor charges of tampering with election equipment and misconduct in office.
“If it hasn’t been clear for the last year, we strongly oppose Tina and her efforts to undermine Mesa County’s elections process and those dedicated elections staff,” Commissioner Cody Davis said. “She’s no longer a sore loser, she’s on full tilt and will settle for nothing less than the complete destruction of a pillar institution of our democratic republic.”
Commissioner Scott McInnis, too, is fed up with Peters and her antics, saying she’s trying to play the starring role in her own movie.
“She loved the attention, the private jets, the high-end hotels, the taste of money and most of all, the attention,” McInnis said. “She was amazed people would drink the Kool-Aid, that the more deceitful she was, the more she believed herself to be a national hero. She discovered how easy it was to destroy others like Gerald Wood and his family on her path to stardom.”
Wood, a Fruita resident, was first implicated as the person who helped Peters make copies of election equipment that later were publicly revealed, along with secret passwords, by voter-fraud conspiracy theorists.
Court filings, however, have since shown that Wood had nothing to do with it, hence why Peters and two of her deputies, Belinda Knisley and Sandra Brown, are also facing identity theft charges. While it is not known if Brown is cooperating with prosecutors to help convict Peters, Knisley is, telling them at one point that Peters ordered her to lie about the identity of the person who was pretending to be Wood.
In his letter to the Sentinel, McCarney also calls on Peters to apologize to Wood and his family for throwing him “under the bus.” Peters has continued to say that Wood was involved, telling conservative media outlets that he perjured himself when he told the grand jury that indicted her that we was not involved.
The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office has said Wood no longer is believed to be involved in any wrongdoing, and is not the target of any investigation.
While McCarney said Peters is “delusional” and a “sore loser,” he doesn’t believe that of Trump, saying that while Colorado’s election system is accurate and above board, he’s not so sure about other states. Still, he doesn’t question how ballots were counted in those states, just in who made the decision to use drop boxes and allow voters to use absentee ballots, decisions he said are up to legislatures, not election officials.
McCarney has long volunteered his time as either an election judge or election watcher, and has seen first hand how Colorado conducts its elections.
“It works and we proved that it works with the school board election and doing the hand recount,” he said. “That should have returned everybody’s trust that the system worked, because it did. That should have been the end of it right there.”
McCarney, who doesn’t plan to run for a third term as party chairman when it expires in February, said he still supports Trump, and would do so again if he runs for president in 2024. Still, he said a younger person would be preferable.
“I think it’s time for him to have some fun, relax and have some fun with his family,” McCarney said. “I don’t think in Colorado there was anything nefarious that went on in that (2020) election because the system we have has been proven now.”