Iowa man pleads guilty to making election-related threats to Arizona officials

Apr 13, 2023, 3:30 PM

Clint Hickman and Mark Brnovich. (Getty Images, left, YouTube Screenshot, right)...

Clint Hickman and Mark Brnovich. (Getty Images, left, YouTube Screenshot, right)

(Getty Images, left, YouTube Screenshot, right)

PHOENIX — An Iowa man pleaded guilty Thursday to sending threatening messages to multiple Arizona officials regarding the 2020 election, authorities said.

Mark Rissi, 64, of Hiawatha, pleaded guilty to two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and could face up to five years in prison on each count, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rissi sent voicemails to Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman and former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich — both Republicans — about a year after the 2020 election that saw Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump.

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

“Hello Mr. Hickman, 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.

Hickman issued a statement in October after Rissi was charged.

“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 also left a voicemail for Brnovich on Dec. 8, 2021.

“This message is for Attorney General Mark Brnovich … 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 the Attorney General knows was fraudulent, that the Attorney General has images of the conspirators deleting election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system. Do your job, Brnovich, 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 voicemail said, according to the release.

Rissi will be sentenced on June 26.

The FBI Phoenix and Cedar Rapid Field Offices investigated 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.

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Iowa man pleads guilty to making election-related threats to Arizona officials