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FBI arrests Massachusetts man for bomb threats to Arizona Secretary of State

Katie Hobbs
Katie Hobbs

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- The FBI arrested a Massachusetts man Friday on charges he made a bomb threat sent to the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
But the threat never actually named her.
The indictment, made public Friday, charges that James Clark, 38, of Falmouth, says that he sent a message on Feb. 14, 2021, to the website maintained by the elections division of Hobbs office.
"Your attorney general needs to resign by Tuesday Feb. 16 by 9 a.m. or the explosive device impacted in her personal space will be detonated,'' according to the indictment.
It also says that Clark utilized a web browser to search for the address of "the election official'' who is not named in either the indictment or the accompanying press release. And it says he searched for "how to kill'' the election official.
The Department of Justice, in a press release, also says that Clark several days later made a separate web search for "FEMA Boston Marathon bombing'' and a similar search adding the words "plan digital army.''
Calls to the U.S. Attorney's Office seeking clarification of who is the victim were not immediately returned.
But Murphy Hebert, Hobbs' press aide, said that the bomb threat on that date does involve her boss -- and was just one of many.
Hobbs, a Democrat who is running for governor, began receiving protection from the state Department of Public Safety after fielding multiple death threats last year during the time of the election "audit'' being conducted by the Arizona Senate. She opposed the move by Republican lawmakers which came despite separate examinations of the ballots and voting equipment by Maricopa County.
And those were not the first threats.
They actually dated to right after the November 2020 general election. There even was a group that gathered outside her home and chanted slogans, including "We are watching you.''
Hebert said the "I'm going to kill you'' threats have tapered off this year. But she said that Hobbs still gets threats that appear to be just on the side of what is legal, with messages like "Someone should kill you.''
Hobbs is not the only one who has been threatened following the 2020 election.
All five Maricopa County supervisors also got threats -- four of whom are Republicans -- after the did not initially respond to subpoenas issued by the Senate as part of the audit.
So did Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, who was the only Republican to vote against holding the supervisors in contempt for not honoring the subpoenas. With the Republicans having just a one-vote edge in the Senate, that killed the move.
Clark appeared in federal court in Boston on Friday.
According to the Department of Justice, if Clark is convicted he faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years for making the bomb threat, with separate five-year penalties for each of the counts of the bomb hoax and making a threatening interstate communications.
The agency said the case is part of its Election Threats Task Force. Launched in June 2021, it is designed to address threats of violence against election workers.
"Illegal threats of violence put election officials and workers at risk and undermine the bedrock of our democracy: free and fair elections,'' said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. in a prepared statement.
And Gary Restaino, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, said in a statement that democracy requires his agency to support elected officials "and that we take seriously allegations of threats or violence against them.''
On Twitter: @azcapmedia