PHOENIX (AP) — The FBI on Friday arrested a Massachusetts man for threatening to blow up Arizona’s top election official following the 2020 election that saw former President Donald Trump lose in the state.
James W. Clark, 38, of Falmouth made an initial court appearance in Boston to answer to a three-count indictment that charges him with threatening to explode a bomb in Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ “personal space” if she did not resign.
Court records do not show a lawyer for Clark, or show if he remains in custody.
The threat was sent on Feb. 21, 2021, through an online form maintained by the Secretary of State’s election department, according to the indictment.
It was one of countless threats made against Hobbs for her role in certifying the 2020 election, which Trump contends without evidence was flawed by fraud. He lost to President Joe Biden in Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.
Hobbs spokeswoman Murphy Hebert said it was the only bomb threat Hobbs received among the thousands of threats the office received via telephone, email and online. She said the threats and harassment came in spurts, with hundreds on some days and then none for a while before another flurry of activity.
“Hanging is something we hear a lot, that you should be hanged,” Herbert said. “That seems to be a favorite.”
Clark faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of making the bomb threat and five years on each of the other charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said threats of violence put election officials and workers at risk “and undermine the bedrock of our democracy: free and fair elections.”
Election officials across the nation, especially in battleground states that Trump lost like Arizona, have been subjected to threats in the wake of Trump’s defeat and the failed attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the election results on Jan. 6, 2021.
Attorney General Merrick Garland formed an Election Threats Task Force in June 2021 to focus on threats of violence against elected election officials, workers and volunteers to ensure they are able to oversee elections free of harassment. The case against Clark is part of that effort.
Hobbs said in a statement that election officials across the country are being regularly threatened for doing their jobs and thanked the FBI for pursuing the investigation.
“It’s unconscionable and undermines our democracy,” Hobbs said. “This harassment won’t be tolerated and can’t be normalized.”