A Nebraska man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for making multiple threatening posts on an Instagram page associated with Democratic Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, the state’s chief election official.
“This sentence makes clear that those who illegally threaten election workers should be prepared to face meaningful penalties,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department will not hesitate to hold accountable those whose illegal threats of violence endanger the public servants who administer our elections.”
Federal authorities said Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, Neb., posted multiple hostile messages on an Instagram page associated with the official, who was not named in Justice Department documents but is known to be Griswold.
“Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t. Do you think Soros will/can protect you?” Ford wrote in one August 2021 message, apparently referring to Democratic megadonor George Soros, who has long been the subject of false conspiracy theories from far-right and anti-Semitic groups.
In another posting, Ford wrote: “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days … anything can happen to anyone.”
Ford also posted similar messages on Instagram pages associated with President Joe Biden, the legitimate winner of the 2020 election, and with another public figure.
“Make no mistake, threatening election officials is a serious attack on our democratic process,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Today’s sentence proves that the FBI and our partners will stand up to anyone who attempts to intimidate election workers for doing their jobs. The American voting system is secure and we are dedicated to ensuring it stays that way.”
The FBI Denver Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the FBI Omaha Field Office.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General 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 government officials along with state and local law enforcement to assess allegations of threats against election workers and it has investigated these matters throughout the country in partnership with FBI field offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, which have prosecuted offenders where appropriate.
Ford was the first Trump supporter to plead guilty and be sent to prison for threatening election workers although he is not the first accused of such crimes in the wake of Trump’s lies.
Federal prosecutors in January charged a Texas man with threatening government officials in Georgia, alleging that Chad Christopher Stark, 54, posted a message on Craigslist on Jan. 5, 2021, saying it was “time to kill” an official, whose name was not included in the court documents but refused to back President Donald Trump’s bogus claims of election fraud.
Trump called Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the “enemy of the people” after he resisted the then-president’s urging in a phone call to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat.
The trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other members of the extremist group who face seditious conspiracy and other charges is in progress and three of those co-defendants have pleaded guilty.
More than 870 defendants have been arrested in the 21 months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results.
The government continues to investigate losses that resulted from the breach of the Capitol, including $2.7 million in damage to the building and grounds, 140 police officers who were assaulted.
Approximately 380 Trump-loving terrorists have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges including 80 who pleaded guilty to felonies and another 300 that pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
Election deniers will be on the ballot in 48 of 50 states and make up more than half of all Republicans running for congressional and state offices in the midterm elections. Nearly 300 Republicans seeking those offices this November have amplified Trump’s lies about the last presidential election, but no criminal charges have yet been leveled against the former president or his inner circle.
Under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the 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 and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
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: https://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: 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.