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Iowa man arrested for threatening two Arizona public officials

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) – A man from Iowa was arrested this week for sending a threatening message to a pair of Arizona politicians.

Mark Rissi, a 64-year-old from Hiawatha, Iowa, made his first appearance at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this week.

On or about September 27, 2021, Rissi allegedly left a threatening voicemail message to an election official with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Clint Hickman of District 4.

"Hello Mr. [VICTIM], I am glad that you are standing up for democracy and want to place your hand on the Bible and say that the election was honest and fair," Rissi said. "I really appreciate that. When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you'll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive]. You're gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We're going to hang you. We're going to hang you."

And on or about December 8, 2021, Rissi left another threatening voicemail for an official in the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.

"I'm a victim of a crime. My family is a victim of a crime," Rissi said. "My extended family is a victim of a crime. That crime was the theft of the 2020 election. The election that was fraudulent across the state of Arizona, that [VICTIM] knows was fraudulent, that [VICTIM] has images of the conspirators deleting election fraud data from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors computer system. Do your job, [VICTIM], or you will hang with those [expletive] in the end. We will see to it. Torches and pitchforks. That's your future, [expletive]. Do your job."

Rissi is charged with one count of making a threatening telephone call and two counts of making a threatening interstate communication.

Rissi faces a maximum of up to five years in prison for each of the two counts of making a threatening interstate communication and up to two years in prison for making a threatening telephone call if convicted.

Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman of District 4 issued a statement condemning the harassment and expressing his gratitude for law enforcement arresting the man involved.

"I remember exactly where I was when I heard that voicemail," Hickman said in a press release. "It was chilling. This wasn't a prank call. This wasn't protected speech. This was a serious threat to me and my family. I'm grateful to the Department of Justice and the FBI for taking this case seriously and making an arrest, and I'm pleased the U.S. Attorney General has set up a task force to address increased threats of violence to election workers and elected officials."

Hickman added that he wants to see politicians use their platforms to combat election disinformation.