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Colorado has outsize role in conspiracist Mike Lindell’s elections assault

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Colorado has outsize role in conspiracist Mike Lindell’s elections assault

Aug 01, 2022 | 6:30 am ET
By Quentin Young
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Colorado has outsize role in conspiracist Mike Lindell’s elections assault
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Mike Lindell addresses a crowd gathered on the steps of the Colorado Capitol for the Colorado Election Truth Rally, organized by activists who question the results of the 2020 presidential election, in Denver, April 5, 2022. (Kevin Mohatt for Colorado Newsline)

Colorado-based “election integrity” activists and purported fraud in the state’s elections have assumed a prominent place in conspiracist Mike Lindell’s nationwide campaign to prove American elections are not secure.

Several Colorado activists, as Newsline has previously reported, helped found the Lindell-funded election nonprofit Cause of America, and Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, has supported election-denying candidates in the state, such as Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and state Rep. Ron Hanks.

Cause of America’s incorporating documents, recently obtained by Newsline, as well as remarks that Lindell made to Newsline last week, further implicate Colorado in Lindell’s activities.

“Colorado is one of the most corrupt states this country has ever seen. Ever. And it starts with Jena Griswold on down,” Lindell said, referring to the secretary of state. “Your whole state is so corrupt. I believe it’s number one, it’s got to be number one in the nation.”

In November, Colorado election denier and insurrectionist Shawn Smith announced the formation of Cause of America on “War Room,” a podcast hosted by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and carried on Lindell’s media platform Frank Speech. 

Days later, two other Colorado activists, Ashe Epp and Holly Kasun, were introduced as founding members of the group, meant to be a resource for election-denial activities throughout the country.

The group’s incorporating documents, which Newsline obtained last week from a South Dakota state database, show that in fact every member of the group’s founding board of directors except for Lindell, who is based in Minnesota, appear to be from Colorado. Besides Smith, Epp and Kasun, they include Jeff Young and Michele Replogle.

Young is also tied to Colorado-based U.S. Election Integrity Plan, which Epp and Kasun co-founded and with which Smith has frequently worked. Young’s LinkedIn identifies him as Cause of America’s chief data and analytics officer.

Replogle is a Mesa County resident who sits on the board of St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation in Grand Junction. Her involvement with Lindell and Cause of America has not previously been reported. Reached by text, she declined to answer questions and directed a reporter to contact Lindell. A person who answered the phone at the medical center foundation confirmed that the number used by the reporter to text Replogle was the number associated with the board member listed on the foundation’s website.

Colorado has outsize role in conspiracist Mike Lindell’s elections assault
Activists raise a sign stating support for Tina Peters and Mike Lindell during the Colorado Election Truth Rally, where organizers questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election, in Denver, April 5, 2022. (Kevin Mohatt for Colorado Newsline)

Lindell denied Replogle works for Cause of America. Rather, he said, she has worked for Lindell Management for about five months.

“Michele works for me. She works directly for me. She’s one of my assistants,” Lindell said, adding that Replogle works with his lawyers involved with election activism around the country.

Newsline recently reported that Lindell decided Cause of America should part ways with Kasun and Epp. The group has “five to 10” people who work for it, Lindell said.

Despite the Colorado-tied leadership of Cause of America, Lindell incorporated the 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization in South Dakota. The attorney who handled the incorporation was Steven Haugaard. Newsline attempted to ask South Dakota state Rep. Steven Haugaard, who is an attorney, about the matter. He asked a reporter to text him, but he did not respond to a question about whether he was the same attorney who filed to incorporate Cause of America.

Haugaard faced criticism this year after he referred on the floor of the state House to a woman he knew as a “wrung-out whore.” He got trounced last month in the South Dakota Republican primary election for governor.

Colorado’s elevated place in Lindell’s efforts will be reinforced with the Aug. 20 premiere of “Selection Code,” during the two-day Lindell-hosted Moment of Truth Summit livestream. The documentary “follows the story of Tina Peters the County Clerk in Mesa Colorado,” according to the film’s website. The film purports to document an investigation by Lara Logan, the star-journalist-turned-conspiracist, into how fraud in the 2020 election goes “deeper” than the election being stolen from former President Donald Trump.

Claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or compromised have been debunked by experts, courts and Trump’s own campaign and administration officials

Lindell told Newsline he funded the movie “100 percent” and that it cost between $600,000 and “over a million.”

Peters is an election denier who is under felony grand jury indictment for her alleged involvement in a security breach in her own election office. She lost the Colorado Republican primary race for secretary of state but last week secured a recount after paying a $256,000 fee to the state.

Lindell supported Peters candidacy, but, citing legal reasons, he said he did not donate to her recount fundraising effort. “You can’t,” he said. “That has to go through their campaign.”

Lindell also supported the election-denying Hanks in his unsuccessful Republican primary run for U.S. Senate.

“Ron Hanks and Tina Peters, they got their election stolen, we monitored the whole thing,” Lindell said. “This is indisputable, a hundred percent evidence.”

There is no evidence the election was stolen. But Lindell used inflammatory language in stating his response to the outcome, validated by Republican and Democratic county officials throughout the state. “(Secretary of State) Jena Griswold was caught. She’s a criminal. She belongs behind bars.”