By PAUL HAMMEL
LINCOLN — A Lincoln man was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for making threatening posts on an Instagram page concerning Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
Among the posts made by 42-year-old Travis Ford were ones that said, “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t.”And “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days.…anything can happen to anyone.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a press release, said the sentence makes clear that “meaningful penalties” await those who illegally threaten election workers.
“The Justice Department will not hesitate to hold accountable those whose illegal threats of violence endanger the public servants who administer our elections,” Garland said.
According to federal court documents, Ford also posted similar threats associated with the president of the United States and another public figure.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard rejected pleas by Ford’s attorney for a lighter sentence.
Gerrard said there’s “nothing special” about being steadily employed, noting that Ford made 18 serious threats over three months. The judge called arguments over vaccine mandates “complete nonsense,” according to the AP.
The FBI Denver Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the FBI Omaha Field Office.
The case was part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force launched in June 2021. That task force was launched in the wake of false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” and resulting threats and intimidation aimed at election workers.
Nebraska election workers have reported higher stress and some angry calls from those questioning the validity of the 2020 election results.
A “voter accuracy” group in the state has also questioned whether vote-counting machines were accurate — claims totally refuted by Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen in a Powerpoint entitled “Fake vs. Fact.”
Also on Thursday, federal officials arrested a 64-year-old Hiawatha, Iowa, man for allegedly sending a threatening communication to an election official on the Maricopa (Arizona) County Board. Mark A. Rissi also allegedly threatened an official in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.