Iowa man accused of making election-related threats to Arizona officials

Oct 6, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:45 pm
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — An Iowa man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly sending election-related threats to two Arizona officials last year, including Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, authorities said.

Mark Rissi, 64, of Hiawatha, is accused of leaving threatening voicemails for a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors election official and an Arizona Attorney General’s Office official, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.

The DOJ didn’t identify the officials, but Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman issued a statement that appears to confirm he was a target.

“I remember exactly where I was when I heard that voicemail,” he said. “It was chilling. This wasn’t a prank call. This wasn’t protected speech. This was a serious threat to me and my family.”

Rissi was expected to make his first appearance in the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Thursday after being charged with two counts of making threatening interstate communication and one count of making a threatening telephone call.

He allegedly first left a voicemail on Sept. 27, 2021, for the Board of Supervisors official.

“Hello Mr. [VICTIM], I am glad that you are standing up for democracy and want to place your hand on the Bible and say that the election was honest and fair. I really appreciate that. When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you’ll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive]. You’re gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you,” the voicemail said, according to the release.

Rissi also is accused of leaving a the following voicemail for an Attorney General’s Office official on Dec. 8:

“I’m a victim of a crime. My family is a victim of a crime. My extended family is a victim of a crime. That crime was the theft of the 2020 election. The election that was fraudulent across the state of Arizona, that [VICTIM] knows was fraudulent, that [VICTIM] has images of the conspirators deleting election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system. Do your job, [VICTIM], 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.”

The Iowa man, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison for each count of making threatening interstate communication and up to two years in prison for making a threatening telephone call, according to the release.

“I want to thank the Department of Justice for taking threats to officials seriously,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. “While we do not typically talk about these situations publicly, they unfortunately occur. Our office will not be intimidated for doing its job. We cannot tolerate violence in our political system.”

The FBI Phoenix and Cedar Rapid Field Offices are investigating the case as a part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force established in 2021.

The task force aims to make all election officials — elected, appointed or volunteer — free of any threats from the job.

“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 said.

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Iowa man accused of making election-related threats to Arizona officials