Justice Department charges Missouri man with threatening Arizona election official


(CNN)The Justice Department on Wednesday announced criminal charges against a Missouri man who left a voicemail on the personal cell phone of an election official during the monthslong, partisan review of ballots cast in Arizona during in the 2020 presidential election.

Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, is charged with one count of communicating an interstate threat and one count of making a threatening telephone call. If convicted, Hoornstra faces up to five years in prison for interstate threats and two years in prison for making a threatening call. The election official worked at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, according to the DOJ.

“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,” Hoornstra said on the May 2021 voicemail, according to the indictment. “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 f**king job right because other people from other states are watching your ass. You f**king renege on this deal or give them any more troubles, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting.”

    The Arizona audit, run by the company Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, came after a monthslong push by Republican officials to undo the 2020 election result, which saw Joe Biden become the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since 1996. The CEO of Cyber Ninjas said the audit found “very small discrepancies” — not enough to undo the results of the election. Maricopa County officials also rebutted 76 of the 77 claims made in a Cyber Ninjas report that cast doubt on the validity of ballots, finding the claims false or misleading.

      Hoornstra’s arrest is the latest case brought by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. The task force, which was set up last year, has reviewed more than “1,000 contacts reported as hostile or harassing by the election community,” with about 11% rising to the level of a federal criminal investigation, according to the department.

        The DOJ has brought several federal criminal cases so far, with plans to bring more cases in the near future. In one case, a Massachusetts man was arrested and charged in late July for allegedly making a bomb threat last year against an Arizona election official.

        CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.