The rise in political violence not only has a personal impact on the targeted individual, but also disrupts democratic processes and chills the desire of others to participate in government and civic duties. It is important that prosecutors recognize their responsibility to address this new level of violence in their community, while also facing threats and acts against them and their families.
APA, in partnership with the Joyce Foundation, brought together a bipartisan group of prosecutors, federal partners, and national experts in political violence. The goal of this meeting was to develop effective prosecutorial strategies for state and local prosecutors to address political violence in their jurisdictions, and to consider new recommendations for their federal partners to do the same. During this roundtable, participants shared both personal and jurisdictional struggles against extremism and strategies for holding violent actors accountable. Following the meeting, APA published the report Prosecutors and Politics: Collaborative Strategies and Model Policies for Addressing Threats and Acts of Political Violence that contains model policies and collaborative strategies to confront and mitigate political violence Through these recommendations, APA and the Joyce Foundation hope to provide insight into the various methods of addressing political violence and the protection of elected officials and other public servants through monitoring, collaboration, and training. APA seeks to expand on this work by establishing additional resources and guidance for prosecutors in their efforts to address threats and acts of political violence.
Updates in descending order.
In December 2022, “a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned an indictment today charging an Ohio man for allegedly sending threatening communications to an election official with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.” This case was part of the Task Force. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-indicted-making-threats-arizona-state-election-official)
In October 2022, the Task Force met with a bipartisan group of 300 election officials and workers. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/readout-election-threats-task-force-briefing-election-officials-and-workers-grant-funding). The FBI briefed them on communication and coordination with FBI ELection Crime Coordinators as the November 2022 election approached. During the same month, “a Nebraska man was sentenced … to 18 months in prison for making multiple threatening posts on an Instagram page associated with an election official,” a case that was a part of the Task Force. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-sentenced-prison-threatening-election-official). In October in Iowa and due to the work of the Task Force, a “man was arrested … in Hiawatha, Iowa, for allegedly sending a threatening communication to an election official on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona, and for allegedly sending a threatening communication to an official with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General.” (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/man-arrested-making-threats-maricopa-county-election-official-and-official-office-arizona).
In August 2022, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. told a bipartisan group of election officials that “over the past year, the task force ha[d] held approximately 40 meetings, presentations, and trainings with the election community, state and local prosecutors, state and local law enforcement, vendors providing services to support election administration, and major social media companies.” (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/readout-justice-department-officials-remarks-national-association-election-officials)
In January 2022, a bipartisan group of election officials were given an update, including the Task Force’s first criminal charge for interstate threats to kill government officials. At that time the Task Force had received over 850 reports of threats to election officials. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/readout-justice-department-leadership-meeting-election-officials)