The United States Department of Justice on Wednesday revealed that it had charged a Missouri man with making threats against an Arizona election official who last year criticized the Trump-backed Cyber Ninjas "audit" of Maricopa County.
In a newly unsealed indictment, federal prosecutors allege that 50-year-old Walter Lee Hoornstra "knowingly transmitted a communication in interstate and foreign commerce containing a true threat to kidnap any person and to injure the person" when he sent a menacing voicemail to an unidentified Arizona elections official.
According to prosecutors, Hoornstra called the official after hearing comments they made that were critical of the Cyber Ninjas audit and said that "you need to do your f*cking job right because other people from other states are watching your ass."
Hoornstra then warned that if "you f*cking renege on this deal or give [Cyber Ninjas] any more troubles, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting."
If convicted, Hoornstra faces up to seven years in jail for making an interstate threat via telephone.
“These unlawful threats of violence endanger election officials, undermine our electoral process, and threaten our democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department’s Election Threats Task Force, working with our partners across the country, remains committed to investigating and prosecuting such illegal threats to ensure that these public servants are able to do their jobs free from intimidation.”
Former President Donald Trump's false claims about the 2020 election have resulted in a surge of threats leveled at elections officials, some of whom describe themselves as being "under attack" for simply trying to do their jobs.