Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman holds a claim about the 2020 General Election made by Senate contractors Cyber Ninjas during a Jan 5, 2022, hearing. Photo by Michael Chow | Arizona Republic/pool
A 64-year-old Iowa man has been arrested for threatening to lynch Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman and an employee of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for not investigating claims of fictitious voter fraud.
“When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you’ll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive],” Mark Rissi allegedly said in a voicemail to Hickman, according to a press release by the Department of Justice. “You’re gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you.”
The call came three days after Cyber Ninjas released its flawed analysis of the 2020 election results, the end product of the Arizona Senate’s partisan election review, which has continued to be fodder for conspiracy theorists and lawmakers.
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“I remember exactly where I was when I heard that voicemail. It was chilling,” Hickman said in a written statement about the call. “This wasn’t a prank call. This wasn’t protected speech. This was a serious threat to me and my family.
“I’m grateful to the Department of Justice and the FBI for taking this case seriously and making an arrest, and I’m pleased the U.S. Attorney General has set up a task force to address increased threats of violence to election workers and elected officials.”
Hickman’s statement went on to say that today’s indictment is “not enough,” as over the past two years, he and his colleagues have received numerous threats. One of those colleagues includes Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer.
A Missouri man was indicted earlier this year for threatening to kill Richer because he opposed the Senate’s partisan election review, leaving a voicemail on the Republican’s cell phone telling him that “other people from other states are watching your ass.”
You’re gonna die, you piece of (expletive). We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you.
– A voicemail for Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, allegedly left by Mark Rissi
Hickman laid the blame at the feet of Republicans who have remained silent about election lies in order to maintain their standing in a political party that views those who deny the baseless fraud claims as apostates.
“And by and large, people in positions of power, in positions of leadership, in positions of influence here in Arizona are silent,” Hickman said in his statement. “How can you be silent?”
Hickman further went on to say that he hopes by speaking out it will encourage others to follow suit in hopes of combating disinformation that “imperils our democracy.”
“Whether it’s a person who shares your politics or your worldview or not, no one should be subjected to this kind of hatred,” he said.
Hickman wasn’t the only official who was threatened.
Rissi also allegedly called Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Office claiming he was the victim of a “crime.” Brnovich has been a target of election denialists who believe the AG should be investigating perceived fraud or arresting those they believe are responsible.
Rissi claimed in his call that the crime was the “theft of the 2020 election” and repeated the debunked claim of the Maricopa Board of Supervisors deleting files from a computer system.
Rissi then told an unidentified employee to “do your job” 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.”
“I want to thank the Department of Justice for taking threats to public officials seriously,” Brnovich said in a statement to the Arizona Mirror. “No one should be threatened for doing their job.”
Rissi is charged with two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and making a threatening telephone call. Each count of making a threatening interstate communication carries a maximum penalty of five years and making a threatening telephone call holds a maximum penalty of up to two years so Rissi could be facing up to 12 years in prison.
The FBI Phoenix Field Office investigated the case with the assistance of the FBI Cedar Rapids Field Office.
Election officials across the country have faced unusually high levels of threats, including Arizona, and since June 2021 the FBI has received over 1,000 tips related to threats to election workers. Approximately 11%, or 110, of those tips have led to investigations.
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