Travis Ford pleads guilty to threatening election official on Instagram

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A Nebraska man pleaded guilty Thursday to threatening an election official on social media last year, marking the first conviction from a Justice Department task force tasked with protecting election officials.

Federal authorities said Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, Neb., posted several hostile messages on an Instagram page associated with the official, who was not named in a Justice Department press release.

“Do you feel safe? You should not. Do you think Soros will/can protect you? Ford wrote in an August 2021 post, apparently referring to Democratic megadonor George Soros, who has long been the subject of fake conspiracies by far-right and anti-Semitic groups.

In another post, Ford wrote, “Your security details are far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days…anything can happen to anyone. He is expected to be sentenced on October 6 and faces up to two years in prison, the Justice Department said.

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate unlawful threats of violence against public officials,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “Threats of violence against election officials are dangerous to people’s safety and dangerous to our democracy.”

Election officials say they fear for their personal safety: ‘We are in danger’

In July 2021, the Department of Justice launched a task force, led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, to address threats of violence against election workers, as part of a broader effort to guarantee the right to vote. In a memo to federal prosecutors, Monaco referred to a “significant increase” in the number of threats against election officials.

The task force charged at least two other people with crimes.

In January, federal prosecutors charged a Texas man with threatening elections and other government officials in Georgia, alleging that 54-year-old Chad Christopher Stark posted a message on Craigslist on January 5, 2021, saying that it was “time to kill” an official, whose name is not included in court documents.

In the same week, Gjergi Luke Juncaj, 50, of Las Vegas, was charged after allegedly telling an election official that she was ‘f—— dying’ for stealing the presidential election of 2020 to Donald Trump – spreading a false conspiracy theory of widespread voter fraud promoted by Trump and his allies without evidence.

In Ford’s case, federal authorities said he also posted similar messages on Instagram pages associated with President Biden and another public figure.


Washington

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