Today, I am announcing the Election Threats Task Force’s first indictment and arrest of a Texas man for allegedly making interstate threats to kill government officials in Georgia during the aftermath of the 2020 elections.
Election workers, officials, and staff are the backbone of our electoral system. Every election cycle, tens of thousands of civil servants across the country work day and night, weekday and weekend, to prepare for, administer, and tabulate votes in local, state, and federal elections. These are ordinary people from across the political spectrum filling a vital democratic role for our nation, typically with little recognition or support. During the 2020 election cycle and the events that followed, these unsung heroes came under unprecedented verbal assault for doing nothing more than their jobs. As the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have both emphasized previously: we will not tolerate the intimidation of those who safeguard our electoral system.
The department is committed to protecting our election community from violence and threats of violence. To this end, in late June of 2021, Deputy Attorney General Monaco launched the Election Threats Task Force. Led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and supported by the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, the Task Force immediately got to work.
In its first weeks, while analyzing specific threats and initiating criminal investigations where appropriate, the Task Force developed a method to federally log and track all reported incidents of threats to election workers nationwide and trained FBI agents and federal prosecutors in the field on how to intake, assess, and investigate these matters. The Attorney General and the Task Force also directly engaged the election community itself, addressing numerous national organizations of state and local election officials and reaching thousands of their members. In addition, the Task Force coordinated with and offered federal resources and guidance to district attorneys, attorneys general, and state and local law enforcement throughout the country.
This outreach resulted in reporting and cooperation that generated dozens of matters opened for criminal investigation and threat mitigation by the Task Force.
Over the ensuing months, while continuing its outreach; reviewing over 850 reports of threats to election officials; and doggedly pursuing investigative leads, the Task Force also prioritized identifying and securing funding streams to enhance security for state and local election workers who face threats and intimidation.
Returning to the case at hand, today’s charge reflects the culmination of months of work by the Task Force and our exceptional partners in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia securing and reviewing relevant evidence, identifying and interviewing witnesses, and carefully evaluating First Amendment protections and related legal issues. To be sure, not all election-related offensive and intimidating messages will rise to the level of a federal criminal offense, and we will bring charges only after carefully considering the Principles of Federal Prosecution, as we have done here. The communication here speaks for itself. As alleged in the indictment, the defendant, Chad Stark, in early January 2021, posted an advertisement on the Atlanta page of Craigslist, threatening to kill government officials and law enforcement and offering $10,000 to those who would join him. As set forth in the indictment, the post read in part:
It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment right it’s time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [Official A]. Then we work our way down to [Official B] the local and federal corrupt judges. It’s our duty as American Patriots to put an end to the lives of these traitors and take back our country by force . . . . If we want our country back we have to exterminate these people. One good loyal Patriot deer hunter in camo and a rifle can send a very clear message to these corrupt governors.. milita up Georgia it’s time to spill blood…. we need to pay a visit to [Official C] and her family as well and put a bullet her behind the ears. . . .
Remember one thing local law enforcement the key word being local…. we will find you oathbreakers and we’re going to pay your family to visit your mom your dad your brothers and sisters your children your wife… we’re going to make examples of traitors to our country… death to you and all you communist friends.
Stark is charged with one count of making an interstate threatening communication and faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
It is important to note that an indictment merely contains allegations and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court on proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The department, through this Task Force, stands behind all election workers nationwide. A threat to any election official, worker, or volunteer is, at bottom, a threat to public safety and democracy. We will continue to use all available tools to protect the people who work tirelessly to maintain our proud tradition of free and fair elections.