DENVER – A Nebraska man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for making multiple threatening posts on an Instagram page associated with an election official.
“This sentence makes clear that those who illegally threaten election workers should be prepared to face meaningful penalties,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Justice Department will not hesitate to hold accountable those whose illegal threats of violence endanger the public servants who administer our elections.”
According to court documents, Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, issued threats to an election official, including: “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t. Do you think Soros will/can protect you?” and “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days….anything can happen to anyone.” Ford also posted similar messages on Instagram pages associated with the President of the United States and with another public figure.
“Make no mistake, threatening election officials is a serious attack on our democratic process,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Today’s sentence proves that the FBI and our partners will stand up to anyone who attempts to intimidate election workers for doing their jobs. The American voting system is secure and we are dedicated to ensuring it stays that way.”
The FBI Denver Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the FBI Omaha Field Office.
“This prison sentence sends a clear message to anyone who thinks hiding behind a computer screen will allow them to get away with posting threatening messages on social media,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch of the District of Colorado. “We will not tolerate threats against election officials.”“
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska hopes that today’s sentence will deter others from using social media to threaten violence against others, especially those who are tasked with the upholding the integrity of our Nation’s elections process,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Steven A. Russell of the District of Nebraska. “This office is appreciative of the collective effort of the Denver Office of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in the investigation and prosecution of this matter.”
Trial Attorney Jonathan E. Jacobson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessie L. Smith for the District of Nebraska prosecuted the case. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron M. Teitelbaum and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyrus Y. Chung for the District of Colorado provided substantial assistance.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Garland and launched by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in June 2021, the Task Force has led the department’s efforts to address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers — whether elected, appointed, or volunteer — are able to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The Task Force engages with the election community and state and local law enforcement to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, and has investigated and prosecuted these matters where appropriate, in partnership with FBI field offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country. A year after its formation, the Task Force is continuing this work and supporting the United States Attorneys’ Offices and FBI Field Offices nationwide as they carry on the critical work that the Task Force has begun.
Under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Monaco, the Task Force is led by the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and includes several other entities within the Department of Justice, including the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, the Civil Rights Division, the National Security Division, and the FBI, as well as key interagency partners, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. For more information regarding the Justice Department’s efforts to combat threats against election workers, read the Deputy Attorney General’s memo.
To report suspected threats or violent acts, contact your local FBI office and request to speak with the Election Crimes Coordinator. Contact information for every FBI field office may be found here: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/. You may also contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or file an online complaint at: tips.fbi.gov. Complaints submitted will be reviewed by the task force and referred for investigation or response accordingly. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.
Case Number: 22-1073