PHOENIX — A man was arrested Thursday in Iowa, for allegedly sending a threatening communication to an election official on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The same man also allegedly sent a threatening communication to an official with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Officials identified the man as 64-year-old Mark A. Rissi, of Hiawatha, Iowa. He is reportedly expected to make his initial appearance Thursday in Cedar Rapids.
On Sept. 27, 2021, an indictment stated Rissi allegedly left a threatening voicemail for an unidentified election official with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The indictment describes the alleged voicemail which included threats of violence by hanging.
The Maricopa County Elections Department identified the election official who received the voicemail as Clint Hickman. He released the following statement after the arrest was made:
"I remember exactly where I was when I heard that voicemail. It was chilling. 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.
I can tell you, though, that is not enough. I've received numerous threats over the past two years. My colleagues on the Board have as well. The Recorder. And worst of all, county elections staff doing their job honorably are getting calls and emails threatening violence, calling them traitors. It's despicable.
And by and large, people in positions of power, in positions of leadership, in positions of influence here in Arizona are silent. How can you be silent?
So I'm speaking out today in hopes that others will follow. Whether it's a person who shares your politics or your worldview or not, no one should be subjected to this kind of hatred. And if we truly want to keep our country great, we will do everything we can to denounce threats against election workers and combat the disinformation that imperils our democracy."
Rissi also reportedly left another voicemail on Dec. 8, 2021 for an official with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.
In that instance, he allegedly told the official to "do your job" or "you will hang with those [expletive] in the end."
According to the Department of Justice, Rissi is charged with two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and one count of making a threatening telephone call.
If convicted, Rissi faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison for each count of making a threatening interstate communication and up to two years in prison for making a threatening telephone call.
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