Man charged with making threat to Maricopa County election official’s cell phone

(Courtesy: Maricopa County Elections Dept.)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 9:30 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 9:48 AM MST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (3TV/CBS 5) -- Federal prosecutors say a Missouri man has been indicted after he left a voicemail with a threat to a Maricopa County election official’s personal cell phone.

The Department of Justice says Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh, Missouri, is charged with one count of making a threatening phone call and communicating an interstate threat. If convicted, he faces five years in prison for the interstate charge and two years for the threatening phone call. It’s not clear when the threat was allegedly made.

According to a portion of the indictment, which was issued May 2021, Hoornstra said: “So I see you’re for fair and competent elections, that’s what it says here on your homepage for your recorder position you’re trying to fly here. But you call things unhinged and insane lies when there’s a forensic audit going on. You need to check yourself. You need to do your [expletive] job right because other people from other states are watching your ass. You [expletive] renege on this deal or give them any more troubles, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting.”

In August, the DOJ detailed the threats after five people were charged for making violent threats in recent months. One of those people charged included a Massachusetts man who threatened Arizona Sec. of State Katie Hobbs.

“These unlawful threats of violence endanger election officials, undermine our electoral process, and threaten our democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The department’s Election Threats Task Force, working with our partners across the country, remains committed to investigating and prosecuting such illegal threats to ensure that these public servants are able to do their jobs free from intimidation.”

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the department has investigated more than 1,000 harassing and threatening messages directed at election workers, with roughly 100 of those escalating to possible prosecution. Now Lawmakers are actively working on a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would double the federal penalties to up to two years in prison for those who threaten election workers, poll watchers, voters, or candidates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.