DENVER — Tina Peters, a prominent election denier and the Republican Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, has raised more money since losing the Republican primary for Secretary of State than she had going into the original election.
Peters lost the primary for Colorado Secretary of State on June 28. Pam Anderson defeated Peters by 88,578 votes.
Last week, Peters paid the $255,912.33 necessary for a recount. (At one point, the estimate for each county to pay staff to do a recount, came out to $236,000. Peters' campaign did not put down an initial deposit and after a delay, the estimate increased because the deadline to legally recount was condensed to one week.)
Leading up to the primary election, Peters raised $234,196. 9Wants to Know found approximately 3,023 donors gave that much money from January 1, 2022, through June 28, 2022.
But from June 29, 2022, to July 27, 2022 -- after the primary loss -- roughly 5,393 donors gave an additional $503,649. One resident of South Pasadena, California, topped the list with $1,500, but the typical donation stayed at $50.
"It's just shocking. It's just absolutely shocking," said campaign finance attorney Mario Nicolais. "I have never heard of a candidate who raised more money after they lost than they did during the entire campaign."
The late uptick in donations seems to stem from Peters' appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room podcast on July 25. It was on that program that she made the pitch for contributions.
"So tomorrow, I need to raise $250,000 -- $236,000 to do a statewide recount," Peters said on the program.
9NEWS investigative producer Zack Newman sorted her campaign finance report that was filed on Aug. 1. It showed that after her July 25 appearance on Bannon's show, Peters received 3,834 contributions. She received another 1,016 contributions the next day, when she made another appearance.
Seventy-two percent of money donated from June 23, 2022, to July 27, 2022, came from outside of Colorado; 4,439 donations totaling $370,268.29 from out of state came into Peters’ coffers in the days leading up to and following her primary loss.
If not in Colorado, donors most often hailed from California, Texas and Florida. Those three states were a hotbed of fundraising activity for Peters in the beginning of 2022 but not at the scale of recent donations.
"It couldn't be one guy, Mike Lindell couldn't come in and write a $100,000 check," said Bannon on his July 26 program.
MyPillow CEO Lindell previously boasted about giving $800,000 to Peters' legal defense fund. He and any other donor could not give more than the maximum allowed, which is $1,250 per person. Based on the records, Lindell did not give any money to help with the recount.
The most contributions by state came from 516 California residents.
There were dozens of donations in the days leading up to the Colorado primary on June 28, but most of the money came in late July.
"It's just an odd, odd world where they're more interested in actually fighting elections after they're already been lost. Maybe, it's the Trump hangover has been so strong, that that's what people are most interested in now," said Nicolais.
With Peters raising more money than the recount costs, what happens to the rest?
"She'll have to either give it to a charity. She can give it back to the contributors. That might be a really good idea here, since she's wasted half of their money anyway," said Nicolais. "She cannot use it personally. Her campaign cannot spend money to defend her personally."
That means it cannot be used to pay for her defense in the felony case in Mesa County for tampering with her county's election equipment.
Anderson, the former clerk in Jefferson County, is set to face current Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) in the general election in November.
Reach investigative reporter Zack Newman through his phone at 303-548-9044. You can also call or text securely on Signal through that same number. Email: email@example.com. Call or text is preferred over email.
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