FBI agents arrested a Texas man Friday on charges that he posted an Internet message threatening the life of Georgia state election officials.
Chad Christopher Stark, 54, of the Austin suburb of Leander, was charged with communicating an interstate threat in a message posted on Craigslist a year ago.
Posted with the subject line "Georgia Patriots it's time to kill" a state election official, whose name was not mentioned in court documents, the message said, "It's time to invoke our Second Amendment right it's time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [official's name]. Then we work our way down to [another official] the local and federal corrupt judges," according to court documents.
The post also mentioned a third official and said "we need to pay a visit" to her "and her family as well and put a bullet ... behind the ears."
The charge was filed by the Justice Department's Election Threats Task Force, launched last June with the mission of addressing threats of violence against election workers.
"There is no First Amendment right to unlawfully threaten to harm or kill someone," said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a speech Friday to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "The Justice Department will continue to do all it can to hold accountable those who target public servants with violence."
John Keller, a lawyer in the Justice Department's public integrity section, said threats against election officials have traditionally been considered a matter for local officials, but that view has changed because of the surge in threats following the 2020 presidential election.
Before the task force was formed, federal prosecutors charged a New Hampshire woman, Katelyn Jones, with sending threatening messages to a state election official in Michigan. The texts included graphic threats to the official's daughter.
A trial for Jones is scheduled to begin in March. She, too, is charged with sending an interstate threat, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.