A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty on Friday to sending a communication containing a bomb threat to an election official in the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.
“Americans who serve the public by administering our voting systems should not have to fear for their lives simply for doing their jobs,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As this case demonstrates, the Justice Department is investigating and prosecuting violations of federal law against election officials and election workers. Only by protecting those who administer the election process can we ensure that the right to vote, itself, is protected.”
According to court documents, on or about Feb. 14, 2021, James W. Clark, 38, of Falmouth, sent a message via the website contact form of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, Election Division, addressed to the election official, and warned her that she needed to “resign by Tuesday February 16th by 9 am or the explosive device impacted in her personal space will be detonated.”
“Threatening public officials is a serious matter, never warranted by the situation no matter how heated or politically charged,” said U.S. Attorney Gary M. Restaino for the District of Arizona. “Cases like this are important in protecting not only the public official victimized by the conduct, but also the integrity of our election processes as a whole.”
Shortly after transmitting the message, Clark conducted online searches that included the full name of the election official in conjunction with the words “how to kill” and “address.” Additionally, on or about Feb. 18, 2021, Clark conducted online searches involving the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Defending the rights of Americans, particularly the right to vote, is a fundamental part of the FBI’s mission to protect the American people and uphold the constitution,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Election workers are dedicated members of our community who have the solemn responsibility of ensuring the integrity of the U.S. voting process. The FBI will fiercely protect election officials from threats of violence and intimidation, and in doing so, protect the fidelity of U.S. elections.”
Clark pleaded guilty to one count of making a threatening interstate communication. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. A year after its formation, the task force is continuing this work and supporting the U.S. Attorneys’ offices and FBI field offices nationwide as they carry on the critical work that the task force has begun.
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: 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 www.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.