An Ohio man who allegedly threatened to kill an Arizona state election official during the 2022 midterm election season is now facing federal charges, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Joshua Russell, 44, allegedly left voicemails for an unnamed election official who worked for the Arizona secretary of state’s office in the lead-up to the midterm elections, according to prosecutors.
“The only reason you’re still walking around on this planet is because we’re waiting for the midterms to see you prosecuted for the crimes you have done to our nation,” Russell said in a September voicemail, according to court documents.
His arrest is the most recent case brought by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, which Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last year to address the rise in threats against election officials. The task force has brought at least six federal cases so far, and local officials in Colorado, Arizona and Michigan have each pursued a criminal case for threats against election workers.
According to prosecutors, Russell repeatedly called the Arizona election official a “traitor,” and claimed the employee didn’t stop election fraud in 2020 when baseless claims of fraud were widespread, adding that he believed the official wasn’t doing enough to protect the most recent election.
Russell also allegedly left a message for the official after the election, saying: “We will not endure your crimes on America another day. You’ve been busted, over and over again.”
“A war is coming for you. The entire nation is coming for you,” he continued, according to prosecutors.
Russell is charged with three counts of making a threatening interstate communication and three counts of making a threatening interstate telephone call. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison for each count of making an interstate threat and two years in prison for each count of making a threatening interstate telephone call.
Russell does not have an attorney listed in court filings.