In the first criminal case brought by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, a man was arrested for allegedly sending threatening election-related communications to government officials on Jan. 5, 2021.
Chad Christopher Stark, 54, of Leander, Travis County, Texas, was arrested Friday, January 21, 2022, in a law enforcement operation carried out by the FBI. He was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Austin, Texas.
A number of Georgia officials received threats in the days and weeks after the election, as President Donald Trump repeatedly lied about the results and falsely told Americans that his opponent cheated without proof.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco launched the Election Threats Task Force in late June 2021, leading 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 investigates and prosecutes these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI field offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country as warranted.
“The Justice Department has a responsibility not only to protect the right to vote, but also to protect those who administer our voting systems from violence and illegal threats of violence,” said Attorney General Garland. “The department’s Election Threats Task Force, working with partners across the country, will hold accountable those who violate federal law by using violence or threatening violence to target election workers fulfilling their public duties.”
“Today’s arrest confirms the FBI’s commitment in our pursuit of justice against those who choose to threaten violence against anyone participating in our elections,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Election workers striving to protect our right to a fair and democratic process deserve nothing less than the utmost safety and assurance they can accomplish their roles without interference. The FBI will continue to focus on our mission of protecting these individuals and the important work they do, as well as every American’s right to vote.”
“The intimidation of those in charge of carrying out free and fair elections in this country is against the law and cannot go unchecked,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine for the Northern District of Georgia. “When someone threatens an election official working at any level of the voting process – whether that be an elected officeholder or a volunteer poll worker – our democracy is put in jeopardy. We are grateful to all of those who endeavor to secure our elections and our democracy. We must protect them all.”
According to a federal indictment, Stark posted a message to Craigslist on Jan. 5, 2021, that called on “Georgia Patriots” to kill government officials, offering an apparent bounty of $10,000.
According to the indictment, Stark allegedly posted a message to Craigslist entitled, “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill [Official A] the Chinese agent – $10,000.”
“Georgia Patriots it’s time for us to take back our state from these Lawless treasonous traitors,” the message stated, according to the indictment, which redacted government officials’ names. “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.”
The indictment did not identify the three Georgia officials Stark allegedly threatened but sources say two Republicans, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, were among the targets because they defended the Georgia vote count despite pressure from Trump and others.
Trump called Raffensperger in January 2021 telling him to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat by Democrat Joe Biden.
The grand jury will examine a recording of the phone call made more than a year ago by then-President Donald Trump – in which Trump said he needed to “find” the Georgia votes needed to overturn the 2020 election.
Raffensperger is cooperating with a Fulton County special grand jury that will investigate evidence of election interference. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher to impanel a special grand jury.
Willis informed the judge that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we had. Because we won the state,” Trump was heard–weeks after he lost the 2020 election–saying on the phone call with Raffensperger, which was recorded and released to the public.
“It’s our duty as American Patriots to put an end to the lives of these traitors and take back our country by force we can no longer wait on the corrupt law enforcement in the corrupt courts. If we want our country back we have to exterminate these people,” the message said. “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.”
“Let’s be very clear to our local law enforcement who have stood down and watch BLM antifa destroy our country and kill our citizens yet you’ll step up to stop Patriot supporters you’ll enforce face mask and you’ll close American businesses???,” the message said. “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.”
The Election Threats 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.
An April survey of local election workers found that nearly 1 in 6 respondents received threats of violence and almost 1 in 3 said they feel unsafe because of their job, according to the Brennan Center for Justice poll.
The surge in violent threats has prompted growing alarm among Democratic lawmakers and voting rights advocates of a mass exodus by experienced election workers and administrators.