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 March 14, 2024

Man gets prison time over bomb threat against Arizona election official

A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison for making an online threat to bomb then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ election office in February 2021, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

James Clark, 40, of Falmouth, pleaded guilty in August in U.S. District Court in Phoenix to sending a communication containing a bomb threat to an election official.

The situation

The threat was one of many made against Hobbs, a Democrat, after she certified the 2020 presidential election that then-Republican President Donald Trump claimed had been stolen.

The Maricopa County Elections Department, located in the city of Avondale in Arizona, was targeted with a bomb threat in February 2021, prompting officials to evacuate the building as a precautionary measure.

The threat came at a time when election offices across the country were on high alert due to concerns about potential disruptions or violence related to political tensions.

The background

Joe Biden, a Democrat, clinched victory in Arizona's election by a narrow margin of about 10,000 votes, representing just 0.3% of the nearly 3.4 million ballots cast statewide.

Following her tenure as Arizona's Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs ascended to the governorship in 2023.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement on Tuesday announcing Clark’s sentencing, emphasizing the Justice Department's commitment to holding individuals accountable for using threats of violence to intimidate election workers.

Garland asserted, "Those using illegal threats of violence to intimidate election workers should know that the Justice Department will find you and hold you accountable."

Clark's earlier arrest

Clark's arrest by the FBI in 2022 followed the tracing of a threatening message sent through an online form maintained by the secretary of state’s election department.

The message warned of an explosive device targeting Hobbs unless she resigned. Authorities conducted searches at various locations, including Hobbs’ home, car, and office at the State Capitol Executive Tower in Phoenix. The governor’s office in the same building was briefly evacuated as a precaution following the incident.

The case is also important as it comes just months ahead of the 2024 presidential election and could see more controversy in a rematch between Trump and Biden.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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