An Iowa man was arrested Thursday on charges that he left a pair of threatening voicemails for a local election official in Arizona and an official associated with the state attorney general's office nearly a year after the 2020 election, the Justice Department said.
Mark A. Rissi, of Hiawatha, Iowa, is accused of threatening to hang Clint Hickman, a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Rissi also allegedly left a threatening voicemail for an employee in Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office.
Rissi, 64, was charged with two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and one count of making a threatening telephone call, the Justice Department said.
The case is part of the department’s Election Threats Task Force, which was launched in June 2021. It has charged people in numerous states.
Hickman, a Republican who attended then-President Donald Trump’s final rally in the state just days before the 2020 election, was the chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, a Republican-controlled and -elected board that stood in staunch defense of the county’s 2020 election. Joe Biden narrowly won Arizona.
Rissi is alleged to have left the voicemail for Hickman last September, accusing him of lying about the fairness of the 2020 election. The board of supervisors oversees elections in the county.
"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," he said, according to a Justice Department news release. "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 Justice Department, which redacted the expletives, said the call was made three days after the Cyber Ninjas, a cybersecurity firm, released a partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election, which had been ordered by the GOP-controlled state Senate.
Hickman confirmed Thursday that he listened to the voicemail.
“I remember exactly where I was when I heard that voicemail. It was chilling. This wasn’t a prank call. This wasn’t protected speech. This was a serious threat to me and my family,” he said in a statement.
“No one should be subjected to this kind of hatred,” he added. “And if we truly want to keep our country great, we will do everything we can to denounce threats against election workers and combat the disinformation that imperils our democracy.”
Rissi is accused of leaving a separate voicemail with an official in Brnovich's office on Dec. 8, claiming he was a "victim of a crime" that he described as "the theft of the 2020 election" and threatening hanging.
“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," Rissi is alleged to have said, suggesting that "conspirators" had deleted election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system.
If he is convicted, Rissi could face up to five years in prison for each count of making a threatening interstate communication and up to two years in prison for the threatening telephone call charge.
Rissi could not be reached for comment.