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Another man who threatened then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sentenced to prison

A man who made threats against then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in 2022 was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Monday, Justice Department officials announced during a news conference on threats to state election workers.

Joshua Russell, from Ohio, made multiple death threats, according to the Justice Department, leaving a series of voicemails for Hobbs, calling her a “traitor” and warning that her days “are extremely numbered.” He pleaded guilty last summer to one count of making a threatening interstate communication.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after a separate individual was sentenced to three and a half years for making a bomb threat against Hobbs in 2021. Hobbs, a Democrat, is now governor of Arizona.

During the news conference, the head of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, John Keller, noted that the task force – formed in 2021 – has “charged roughly 20 defendants for engaging in threats to the elections community to date.”

Officials also said there are currently seven federal cases in which out-of-state individuals have made threats in Arizona, a state that was a hotbed for election conspiracy theories in the wake of the 2020 election.

“There’s a common denominator in many of these cases,” US Attorney for Arizona Gary Restaino said Monday, “election denialists announcing an intent to violently punish” people who they believe “have wronged them, often with a threat of arrests leading to executions for treason.”

“If you threaten violence against the public servants who administer our elections, there will be consequences,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Monday. “The right to vote, which is the cornerstone of our democracy, relies on the ability of election workers and election officials to perform their duties without fearing for their lives. The Justice Department will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who threaten these public servants.”

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