Man Pleads Guilty to Making Threats to Maricopa County Election Official and to Official with Office of Arizona Attorney General
An Iowa man pleaded guilty today to sending a threatening communication to an election official on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and to sending a threatening communication to an official with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.
According to court documents, on or about Sept. 27, 2021, Mark A. Rissi, 64, of Hiawatha, said the following in a voicemail message he left for Clint Hickman, an election official with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors: “Hello Mr. Hickman, I am glad that you are standing up for democracy and want to place your hand on the Bible and say that the election was honest and fair. I really appreciate that. When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you’ll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive]. You’re gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you.”
Additionally, on or about Dec. 8, 2021, Rissi said the following in a voicemail message he left for then-Attorney General of Arizona Mark Brnovich: “This message is for Attorney General Mark Brnovich . . . . I’m a victim of a crime. My family is a victim of a crime. My extended family is a victim of a crime. That crime was the theft of the 2020 election. The election that was fraudulent across the state of Arizona, that the Attorney General knows was fraudulent, that the Attorney General has images of the conspirators deleting election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system. Do your job, Brnovich, or you will hang with those [expletive] in the end. We will see to it. Torches and pitchforks. That’s your future, [expletive]. Do your job.”
“Public officials who administer the most fundamental aspect of our democracy – elections – must be able to do their jobs free from illegal threats,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As today’s guilty plea demonstrates, our Election Threats Task Force, working with partners across the nation, will continue to hold accountable those who unlawfully threaten election workers.”
“I’m proud of Arizona’s public servants who administer elections with integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Gary M. Restaino for the District of Arizona. “When the people speak at the ballot box, all Americans should respect their voices.”
“As part of the FBI’s mission to defend the democratic process, we are equipped with the expertise to respond to allegations of election interference – whether by fraud, cyber intrusion, or in this case, intimidation,” said Special Agent in Charge Akil Davis of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “Election security is and will continue to be one of the FBI’s highest national security priorities.”
Rissi pleaded guilty to two counts of making a threatening interstate communication. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI Phoenix Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the FBI Cedar Rapids Field Office.
Trial Attorney Tanya Senanayake of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean K. Lokey for the District of Arizona are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and launched by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in June 2021, the Task Force has led the department’s efforts to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed, or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The Task Force engages with the election community and state and local law enforcement to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, and has investigated and prosecuted these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI Field Offices and United States Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. A year after its formation, the Task Force is continuing this work and supporting the United States Attorneys’ Offices and FBI Field Offices nationwide as they carry on the critical work that the Task Force has begun.
Under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the Task Force is led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and includes several other entities within the Department of Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, and the FBI, as well as key interagency partners, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
To report suspected threats or violent acts, contact your local FBI office and request to speak with the Election Crimes Coordinator. Contact information for every FBI field office may be found here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/. You may also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or file an online complaint at: tips.fbi.gov. Complaints submitted will be reviewed by the task force and referred for investigation or response accordingly. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.