A Missouri man was indicted yesterday for allegedly leaving a voicemail containing a threat on the personal cell phone of an election official in the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, of Tecumseh, is charged with one count of communicating an interstate threat and one count of making a threatening telephone call.
“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.”
According to the indictment, on or about May 19, 2021, Hoornstra allegedly left the following voicemail message on the personal cell phone of the election official: “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.”
“The FBI is committed to vigorously investigating and holding accountable anyone who threatens election workers,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “These public servants protect our fundamental right to vote by administering fair and free elections. Any attempts to interfere with our elections by intimidating election officials, their staffs, and volunteers with threats of violence will not be tolerated.”
If convicted, Hoornstra faces up to five years in prison for making a threatening interstate communication and up to two years in prison for making a threatening telephone call. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
FBI Phoenix is investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Tanya Senanayake of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is prosecuting the case.
Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and launched by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in June 2021, the Task Force has led the department’s efforts to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed, or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The Task Force engages with the election community and state and local law enforcement to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, and has investigated and prosecuted these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI field offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. A year after its formation, the Task Force is continuing this work and supporting the United States Attorneys’ Offices and FBI Field Offices nationwide as they carry on the critical work that the Task Force has begun.
Under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the Task Force is led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and includes several other entities within the Department of Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, and the FBI, as well as key interagency partners, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
To report suspected threats or violent acts, contact your local FBI office and request to speak with the Election Crimes Coordinator. Contact information for every FBI field office may be found here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/. You may also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or file an online complaint at: tips.fbi.gov. Complaints submitted will be reviewed by the task force and referred for investigation or response accordingly. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.