Task Force Brings First Case on Threats to Election Workers

Indictment says Texas man wanted to 'put a bullet' in Georgia official
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2022 5:12 PM CST
Charges: Texas Man Wanted to 'Put a Bullet' in Election Official
Attorney General Merrick Garland, shown earlier this month, pledged Friday to work to keep election officials safe.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

(Newser) – A Craigslist post saying "it's time to put a bullet" in a Georgia elections official has resulted in the indictment of a Texas man, prosecutors say. Chad Christopher Stark was charged Friday, CNN reports. The indictment says Stark posted the threat on Jan. 5, the day before the attack on the US Capitol. "Georgia Patriots it's time for us to take back our state from these lawless treasonous traitors," the message said, according to the filing. "It's time to invoke our Second Amendment right it's time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese." The shooting threat refers to an election official who isn't named in the indictment, Justice Department prosecutors say. Stark threatened other people, as well, the filing says.

Stark's case is the first brought by a Justice Department task force formed last June. An official said the task force has opened dozens of investigations or taken action after receiving more than 850 referrals of potential threats. "The time to address threats is when they occur, not after a tragedy has struck," US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday. He told the US Conference of Mayors that the Justice Department will work to keep officials safe and hold those who attack or threaten them responsible. "Indeed today, we are taking law enforcement action to that end," Garland said.

Election officials across the country have been under threat, often by people influenced by former President Donald Trump's false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. "These unsung heroes came under unprecedented verbal attack for doing nothing more than their jobs," said Kenneth Polite Jr., head of the department's Criminal Division, per the Washington Post. Before the charge was announced, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, assessed the task force's progress. "There is an impression that bad actors are not being held accountable, and they can use threats to try to intimidate election officials," she said. "I do appreciate them launching the task force, but I do think there's a lot of work to do." (Read more Election 2020 stories.)

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