Ohio man gets 2.5 years in prison for making election-related death threats to Katie Hobbs

Mar 25, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs...

An Ohio man was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for sending death greats to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — An Ohio man was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison after making election-related death threats to Katie Hobbs when she served as Arizona secretary of state.

Joshua Russell of Bucyrus, Ohio, had pleaded guilty in late August to a federal charge of making an interstate threat against Hobbs, a Democrat who, as secretary of state, was Arizona’s chief elections officer in 2022 and now serves as the state’s governor.

The judge, who read Russell’s profanity-laden threats aloud in court, said Russell had accused the victim of being a terrorist, while he was threatening her life. He rejected Russell’s characterization of his actions as immature. “None of these people deserved it,” the judge said.

“I was looking for an outlet to cast my inner turmoil onto,” Russell told the judge before he was sentenced. He hugged his parents and sister in the courtroom before he was taken away to start serving his punishment.

Hobbs was not present in court during the sentencing hearing.

What were the death threats against Hobbs?

The first threat happened Aug. 2, 2022, the day of Arizona’s midterm primary.

This was the message sent to Hobbs:

“You’re the enemy of the United States, you’re a traitor to this country, and you better put your sh[inaudible], your [expletive] affairs in order, ’cause your days [inaudible] are extremely numbered. America’s coming for you, and you will pay with your life, you communist [expletive] traitor [expletive].”

The second message came about five weeks later, when Russell called Hobbs a criminal.

“[Y]ou have a few short months to see yourself behind bars, or we will see you to the grave. You are a traitor to this nation, and you will suffer the [expletive] consequences.”

The final message was sent by Russell a week after the November 2022 general election.

“[W]e will not wait for you to be drugged through court. A war is coming for you. The entire nation is coming for you. And we will stop, at no end, until you are in the ground. You’re a traitor to this nation. You’re a [expletive] piece of [expletive] communist, and you just signed your own death warrant. Get your affairs in order, cause, your days are very short.”

Threats continue against Arizona elections officials

Earlier this month, a Massachusetts man was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for making an online threat to bomb Hobbs’ office in February 2021 when she was still the secretary of state.

In February, an Alabama man accused of sending death threats to a social media account for the Maricopa County Elections Department was charged with making interstate threats.

An Iowa man was also sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for threatening Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, both Republicans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ohio man gets 2.5 years in prison for making election-related death threats to Katie Hobbs