Bente Birkeland

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.

 

It's been nearly a month since sensitive data about voting equipment in Colorado's Mesa County was posted online by conspiracy theorists eager to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election.

At the center of the criminal investigation into how that information was released is county clerk Tina Peters, whose whereabouts remain unknown. She hasn't returned to work in Mesa County since the data breach was announced.

Colorado officials said Thursday that a local county clerk allowed an unauthorized person into a secure facility during an annual upgrade to the county's election equipment software, compromising the equipment.

The Mesa County clerk, Tina Peters, could be in legal trouble. She's currently at a conference led by a prominent election conspiracy theorist.

The victims of some of the most pernicious conspiracy theories of 2020 are fighting back in court.

Voting equipment companies have filed a series of massive defamation lawsuits against allies of former President Trump in an effort to exert accountability over falsehoods about the companies' role in the election and repair damage to their brands.

More than a month ago, Eric Coomer went into hiding.

The voting conspiracy theories that have led millions of Republicans to feel as though the election was stolen from them, which are still spreading, have also led to calls for Coomer's head.

It happens at the beginning of every year: elected officials, legislative staff, lobbyists, journalists and the public gather in large numbers in state capitol buildings around the country for a relentless few weeks — or months — of lawmaking.

In 2020, official business had wrapped in many states by mid-March when lockdowns began. In others, the spread of COVID-19 sent lawmakers home early.

Copyright 2020 CPR News. To see more, visit CPR News.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Colorado voters could well decide this fall which party controls the U.S. Senate.

But first, on Tuesday, voters will pick the Democrat to challenge GOP Sen. Cory Gardner. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is the national party's first choice for the nomination, but his campaign has hit some snags in recent weeks. He was a two-term governor, former mayor of Denver and had a short-lived presidential bid.

Copyright 2020 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A news outlet publishes a story that a Republican politician dismisses as "fake news." Sounds familiar, right?

But in this case, there's a twist. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel in Colorado is accusing state Sen. Ray Scott of defamation and threatening to sue. If filed, legal experts said it would be the first suit of its kind, potentially setting a legal definition for what is considered fake news and what is not.