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A Tuesday rally by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was meant to lend support to an embattled conspiracy theorist. But at the end of the rally, Lindell and his colleague faced a new legal peril.
A linen salesman by trade, Lindell became one of the biggest proponents of voter fraud hoaxes. The pro-Trump conspiracy theory has caused legal problems for Lindell and his allies. An associate, Tina Peters — clerk for Mesa County, Colorado — faces ten criminal charges for allegations that she helped leak data from voting machines under the supervision of her office. Separately, Peters is facing an ethics investigation into his opaque “legal defense fund.” Speaking to reporters ahead of a pro-Peters rally on Tuesday, Lindell said he’s donated up to $800,000 to the fund, well above the state’s $65 donation limit for public officials.
Before he could take the stage, Lindell was also sued, this time by a man who became the subject of baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
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Tuesday’s rally outside the Colorado Capitol also served as a campaign event and legal defense rally for Peters, a candidate for Colorado secretary of state. Her long-winded bid, if successful, would have seen her oversee state elections.
Meanwhile, Peters is accused of mishandling local elections she oversaw as Mesa County Clerk. After her office allegedly failed to count ballots in two recent elections, Peters was embroiled in a criminal case for allegedly impersonating a local man and using his identity to breach county voting machines. of Mesa. Peters is accused of passing information about the breach to conspiracy theorists, who falsely claimed it showed electoral malfeasance. In August, Peters joined those conspiracy theorists in person, flying in Lindell’s private plane for his “cyber symposium” on alleged voter fraud. She then spent more than a month hiding in “safe houses” Lindell had provided for her.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday’s rally, Lindell appeared to confirm that Peters had flown on his private jet. He also claimed to have donated jaw-dropping sums to Peters’ legal defense.
“I just put all the money in myself,” Lindell said, according to Colorado’s 9News. “I don’t know, I probably put in three, four, five, maybe 800,000 [dollars] of my own money.
These confessions, if true, could get Peters in trouble. Colorado state law prohibits elected officials from accepting gifts worth more than $65 unless they are received from family or close friends — and by his own admission, Lindell n is neither. The MyPillow mogul told reporters he first met Peters at his cyber symposium, at which point he had already paid for her to fly on his plane.
Neither Lindell nor Peters returned requests for comment. Anne Landman, a Mesa County resident who blogs about local politics and who first filed an ethics complaint about Peters’ fundraising, said Lindell’s comments further underscore fundraising concerns. of Peters.
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“I think it’s very damning for the whole situation,” Landman told The Daily Beast. “He is implicated not only himself for giving it away, but Tina Peters, more importantly, for accepting the money. This is going to have a very significant effect on his ethics violation case.
Landman filed a lawsuit against the fund in January, accusing Peters of using the fund to circumvent state rules on gifts and campaign finance. Peters personally promoted the fund, Landman notes in his complaint, pointing to campaign events where Peters asked participants to donate to the fundraiser.
Colorado’s independent ethics commission, which is investigating Landman’s complaint, declined to comment on Lindell’s statement, due to ongoing review, but pointed to state laws on gifts to public officials.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said Lindell’s comments could suggest a violation of campaign finance laws or laws against gifts to Colorado officials. (Griswold, whom Peters is challenging for the job, does not oversee the investigation of Peters’ fundraising.).
“The question is, is this a violation? And if so, is it the ban on gifts or the limit on campaign funding,” Griswold told The Daily Beast. She noted that Peters’ conspiracy theories were part of an ongoing campaign against confidence in elections.
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“The Big Lie spread, both with Tina Peters and many other national actors,” Griswold said. “The far right is using the Big Lie as a way to destabilize US elections. We can see this playing out in the massive amount of voter suppression laws last year, or that are being considered this year.
Late last month, weeks after Peters was charged with 10 charges in the voting machine breach, the legal defense fund’s controversial website was taken offline, 9News first reported.
Peters now appears to be managing his donations through Mike Lindell, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported earlier this month. Web searches for “Tina Peters legal defense fund” yield advertisements for Lindell’s “Lindel Legal Fund” website. The site’s announcement for Peters (“Help Mike Lindell and others support Tina Peters and help save our country! Donate online.”) redirects to a general donation page for Lindell, with no method of assignment donations to Peters or any other specific recipient. (Donors “will receive a copy of Mike’s memoir with any donation,” the site notes.)
Lindell also held a post-rally fundraiser for Peters, charging as much as $1,250 for the meet-ups, Colorado Public Radio reported.
Peters was not the only speaker to leave Tuesday’s rally in greater legal danger. Prior to his speech, Lindell was served with a new lawsuit by Eric Coomer, a former employee of Dominion voting systems. Coomer and his former employer have become the subjects of wild and debunked voter fraud conspiracy theories, particularly after a Colorado-based conspiracy theorist spread a discredited rumor about a Dominion employee named Eric.
In his new lawsuit against Lindell, Coomer accuses the MyPillow man of defamation. “Lindell publicly accused Dr. Coomer of being a ‘traitor to the United States,'” the lawsuit states. “He claimed, without evidence, that Dr Coomer had committed treason and that he should surrender to the authorities.
The lawsuit goes on to accuse Lindell of helping to destroy Coomer’s career. “After more than fifteen years as a respected professional at the top of his field, Dr. Coomer’s reputation has been irreparably tarnished,” the suit alleges. “He can no longer work in the election industry due to the unwarranted mistrust inspired by the lies of the defendants, and now bears frequent credible death threats and the burden of being confronted with an imaginary criminal conspiracy of an unimaginable scale. precedent in American history.”
Lindell also faces a $1.3 billion lawsuit from Dominion, as well as unspecified damages from voting technology company Smartmatic, which Lindell also referenced in his theories of the conspiracy.
Shortly after receiving a copy of the lawsuit on Tuesday, Lindell took to the stage, where he made further threats against Coomer.
“I have just received papers. Thanks, Eric. Now Eric will be the first behind bars when we melt the [voting] machines,” Lindell told the crowd.
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