Colorado's attorney general and the local prosecutor leading a joint investigation with the FBI into an alleged election system security breach in Mesa County said Wednesday that no force was used during a search of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters' home, contradicting a statement issued by a spokesman for Peters that accused authorities of using "a battering ram to break down doors."
Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities on Tuesday executed search warrants on the homes of Peters and three of her associates in Mesa and Garfield counties as part of an ongoing criminal investigation launched this summer after voting equipment passwords and copies of election system software were posted online.
No arrests were made, officials said.
Documents relating to the searches remain sealed under a federal court order, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein told Colorado Politics.
A spokesman for Peters' legal defense fund, Republican political consultant Rory McShane, charged Wednesday in a written statement that "large teams of heavily armed federal agents, using a battering ram to break down doors, raided the homes of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and several of her friends and colleagues, mostly elderly women in their mid-60s."
He characterized the searches as "a level of weaponization of the Justice Department we haven’t seen since the McCarthy era," adding that it was a good thing Peters "wasn’t protesting critical race theory at a Virginia school board meeting or they might have brought two battering rams.”
Rubinstein and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser refuted the claims in a joint statement released late Wednesday.
“At no time was force used on Ms. Peters or her home. Ms. Peters was allowed to move around her home and fix herself breakfast while agents gathered items before departing," they said.
“We are issuing this statement to clear up inaccuracies about what occurred during yesterday’s enforcement action. We will continue to conduct a thorough investigation based on facts and the law, including using proper law enforcement tools such as the judicially authorized search that was executed properly in this matter,” they added.
The officials didn't address whether force was used at any of the other homes searched as part of the operation on Tuesday.
In an appearance Tuesday night on Lindell TV, an online show run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a prominent supporter of former President Trump's unfounded claims that the 2020 election was rigged, Peters said law enforcement agents "raided" her home and the homes of three of her friends. She alleged that authorities "used a battering ram," destroying the front door of one of her friend's homes.
"Essentially, they were soldiers in combat gear. They were not men in suits with badges," she said. "They looked very much like they were in a combat zone — soldiers with automatic weapons and combat gear."
Added Peters: "I was terrified."
Lindell said one of the homes searched belonged to Garfield County resident Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign manager for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert.
McShane didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the Colorado officials' statement.