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While U.S. Rep Lauren Boebert says she's satisfied that the local prosecutor helping investigate allegations involving an election data security breach in Mesa County has been acting responsibly and professionally, her former campaign manager, who charged that the FBI broke down her front door and handcuffed her in front of her children last week while serving a search warrant in the case, sees it differently.
Sherronna Bishop, a Garfield County resident who ran Boebert's congressional campaign for the first six months of last year through the primary election, took issue Tuesday with a statement issued a day earlier by Boebert that characterized a discussion with Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein about the ongoing criminal investigation, which involves his office, the Colorado attorney general and federal authorities.
A joint law enforcement task force led by the FBI and authorized by a federal court order searched four homes in Mesa and neighboring Garfield counties on Nov. 16 as part of an investigation into allegations Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and several employees and associates were involved in leaking sensitive voting machine data, including passwords and copies of system software. Peters and Bishop have both said their homes were among those searched.
Responding to complaints aired by constituents, Boebert said Monday in a written statement that she recently received a "briefing" from Rubinstein to address her concerns about the FBI's involvement in the investigation and "the absolute necessity for the presumption of innocence to be extended to all of those being investigated." Boebert added that she opposes what she described as "the overreach and targeted nature" of FBI activity at the national level.
"It was clear from our conversation that the district attorney is being responsible in his approach and conducting his work in as timely and professional a manner as possible, as well as providing local oversight of the FBI’s role," Boebert said. "I will continue to be briefed as the investigation proceeds and can reassure everyone that I will continue to advocate for fairness, timeliness and strict adherence to the proper investigative process.”
Paraphrasing Boebert's response, Bishop fired back in a Facebook post.
"The Mesa County DA overseeing this warrant 'acted in a professional and responsible way' [s]ays Congresswoman Lauren Boebert," she wrote. "Huh. Unprecedented action busting a door down, guns drawn, handcuffing a mother in front of her children then going through my home and taking my electronics. I have ZERO criminal history. I have ZERO violent history. All things the use of force by the FBI are reserved for. I have also not spoken with or been interviewed by the congresswoman."
Added Bishop: "Breaks my heart."
"Wait, didn’t you help her get elected?" responded one of Bishop's Facebook friends. "I only knew about her because of you. I thought for sure she would have your back on this one."
Bishop described the search of her home on conservative talk shows in recent days. According to search warrants that remain under seal but that she said were left at her home, potential offenses the FBI could be investigating include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Through a spokesman, Peters charged on Monday that the Justice Department has been "weaponized" against opponents of "a Democrat agenda, including herself."
"A huge portion of my constituents believes the irregularities of the 2020 election need to be investigated. The Democratic establishment shut me out from being able to investigate the 2020 election, and now the FBI is playing hardball, raiding homes with teams of armed agents to intimidate me and my friends, handcuffing parents in front of their children," Peters said.
"The fear and mistrust this is causing between the people and its government is simply unacceptable. The voters of Mesa County elected me to a job, and I have done that job faithfully, diligently and with the best interests of the constituents of Mesa County," she added.
Bishop and Peters have also alleged the FBI used a "battering ram to break down doors" during the searches, but Rubinstein, a Republican, and Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, said last week that Peters mischaracterized what happened at her house. They declined to address Bishop's allegations of the use of force during the search of her home.
“At no time was force used on Ms. Peters or her home," Rubinstein and Weiser said in a statement. "Ms. Peters was allowed to move around her home and fix herself breakfast while agents gathered items before departing."
A spokeswoman for the FBI told Colorado Politics in an email that agents "conducted authorized law enforcement actions today in support of an ongoing investigation" and declined to comment further.
On Monday, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office told Colorado Politics in a written statement: “We dispute how some have characterized the law enforcement action carried out earlier this week in Mesa and Garfield counties. This judicially authorized search was executed in a professional and lawful manner.”
Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, won a court order earlier this fall prohibiting Peters and her deputy, Belinda Knisley, from running the November off-year election, based on allegations the two helped leak election data to right-wing websites. Peters has denied that she broke any laws.
Knisley was later suspended from her job and charged with felony burglary and a misdemeanor cybercrime count by Rubinstein’s office. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Peters is facing an investigation by Griswold's office into complaints involving campaign finance reporting. The state's independent ethics commission is also purportedly investigating allegations she violated a constitutional ban on gifts over a certain value to public officials.
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