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Missouri man charged with threatening election officials

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Bob Christie

PHOENIX (AP) — A Missouri man sent a threatening message to the mobile phone of an election official in Arizona's most populous county. charged with leaving. said a federal official.

The lawsuit was the second filed last month against people accused of threatening top election officials in battleground states. In late July, a Massachusetts man was indicted for threatening to blow up Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs after the 2020 election in which former President Donald Trump lost in Arizona. I'm a Democrat running for governor.

The US Department of Justice on Wednesday released an indictment against Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh. He faces up to five years in federal prison for making threatening interstate communications and up to two years in prison for making threatening phone calls.

Hoornstra, 2021 accused of threatening Maricopa County Rector Steven Richer on May 19, 2015. Richer is a Republican who won a seat in the 2020 election and has been a vigorous advocate for election practices and public safety in the county.

Former President Donald Trump has focused his anger on his 2020 loss in Maricopa County, Arizona, and the Republican-controlled state Senate was highly critical of the county's results last year. The review found no evidence of major problems with the election, and voter turnouts confirmed the victory of Democratic President Joe Biden.

Election officials in Arizona and other battleground states have received threats and intimidation from some Trump supporters since he lost the election.

Richer did not immediately return a message for comment, but in a lengthy statement on Twitter he issued a statement to the FBI, the Department of Justice and local law enforcement to address him and county election officials.

"Unfortunately, we have a lot to keep them busy," Richer wrote. "And, worse, some of the closed members [of the registrar and election office]." He said he was concerned about the impact on public officials, from U.S. Supreme Court justices to federal judges, prosecutors, FBI agents, and others.

"Nevertheless, violent threats and actions continue to be normalized, or at least covered up, by many of society's 'leaders,'" writes Richer. "Anyone who says, 'Oh, but that was just a fraction,' or 'Oh, but they're usually good people,' contributes to this chill effect and mob mentality."

Court records for Hoornstra's case, including counsel available for comment, are not yet available. The Justice Department did not immediately disclose whether he had been arrested and did not immediately respond to messages. He arrested Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on three counts of "threatening to detonate a bomb." personal space if she didn't resign".

Clark made his first court appearance in Phoenix federal court on Wednesday, where his attorneys filed a plea of ​​not guilty. Attorneys told the court that Clark is poor and lives in a modest house in Boston. Assistant federal public defender Janet Alvarado did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday.

During the hearing, Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle maintained Clarke's original release conditions, stipulating that he was not in possession of firearms or other lethal weapons or explosives. added. He remains free without bail.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, if Clark is convicted of bomb threats, he faces up to 10 years in prison, and for each of the other charges he faces up to five years in prison. be punished.

Attorney General Merrick Garland formed the Election Intimidation Task Force in June 2021 to focus on threats of violence against elected officials, workers and volunteers, Allowing them to oversee elections without being harassed. The lawsuits against Clarke and Hoornstra are part of that effort.