A Texas man accused of threatening to kill several Georgia elections officials on the day before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was arrested Friday, according to the Department of Justice.
Chad Stark, 54, is accused of calling for “Georgia Patriots” to “put a bullet in” unnamed officials. He is the first person to be charged by the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, formed by Attorney General Merrick Garland last summer.
The indictment filed against Stark alleges he created a Craigslist post on Jan. 5, 2021, titled, “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill [Official A] the Chinese agent — $10,000.”
The post that follows, reprinted in the Justice Department’s news release with names redacted, contains a deluge of violent fantasies. Its author claims that “One good loyal Patriot deer hunter in camo and a rifle can send a very clear message to these corrupt governors,” and calls on supporters to “milita (sic) up Georgia it’s time to spill blood…. we need to pay a visit to [Official C] and her family as well and put a bullet behind the ears.”
The post in question was hardly unique. Georgia election officials faced continual threats in late 2020 and early 2021 from supporters of Donald Trump, who falsely claimed the election had been stolen from the former president. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in particular, was the subject of threats on his life and family.
Reuters, meanwhile, reported in December 2021 that in the weeks after the election, a publicist for Kanye West traveled to the Cobb County home of an election worker and pressured her to confess to Trump’s allegations of voter fraud.
Because the names of the officials were redacted, it’s not clear who the post’s author explicitly threatened. Raffensperger provided the following statement Friday:
“I strongly condemn threats against election workers and those who volunteer in elections. These are the people who make our democracy work, and given President Biden’s statement yesterday casting doubt on the legitimacy of our upcoming elections, we need to support and protect our local election officials and volunteers now more than ever.”
Stark, a native of Leander, Texas, appeared in court in Texas on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower released Stark from jail and set several conditions while he’s out. He must stay within Travis, Hays and Williamson counties, with the exception of his next court hearing Feb. 4 in Atlanta, where he will be arraigned.