"Do You Feel Safe? You Shouldn't.": The Instagram Comment That Will Likely Send A Man To Prison

A man from Nebraska is the first person to plead guilty as part of the Justice Department's task force to protect elections workers.

The Instagram comment was short, but it was designed to strike fear into the account owner: Colorado's top elections official.

"Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t," the man wrote. "Do you think Soros will/can protect you?”

Ten days later, on Aug. 20, 2021, the same man left another comment on the same photo.

"Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you," he wrote. "This world is unpredictable these days….anything can happen to anyone.”

He ended his comment with a speculative yet threatening emoji: 🤷.

The man succeeded in his mission. The official was so alarmed by the two comments she reported them to law enforcement, resulting in an FBI investigation.

Federal officials did not identify the official who was targeted, but Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold told BuzzFeed News on Friday that it was her.

On Thursday, more than 10 months after the first comment appeared, the man who posted them appeared in federal court.

Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, Nebraska, pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors to one count of threatening use of a telecommunications device.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in the US District Court for the District of Nebraska on Oct. 6. He could spend as much as two years in prison and be forced to pay a $250,000 fine.

Ford's defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Elections officials across the country have been facing increased threats. It's heartening to see the Department of Justice take these threats seriously and prosecuting people who make threats against election officials based on the Big Lie," Griswold told BuzzFeed News, referring to Donald Trump's lie that he won the 2020 election.

"As Colorado's Secretary of State, I will always ensure that Colorado's elections remain among the safest and most secure in the nation, and will never be deterred from doing my job," Griswold said.

The guilty plea is the first conviction for the Justice Department's task force to combat threats against elections workers.

The DOJ group was established in July in response to what they said had been "a significant increase in the threat of violence" against officials and elections volunteers due to the lies spread by former president Donald Trump and his supporters in the wake of his 2020 loss.

In January, the task force had announced their first criminal case against a Texas man who posted a message on Craigslist in which he offered a $10,000 bounty to kill three officials in Georgia.

A senior DOJ official said at the time that the task force had dozens of criminal cases open for investigation and had reviewed more than 850 threats.

Griswold, a Democrat, has been a favorite target for many on the right who object to her office's investigation of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, a conspiracy-minded elections official who has since been indicted for election tampering.

"The Big Lie is dangerous," Griswold tweeted Friday. "I have received hundreds of threats because of it."

In a statement following Thursday's guilty plea, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would not tolerate any threats against public officials.

"Threats of violence against election officials are dangerous for people’s safety and dangerous for our democracy and we will use every resource at our disposal to disrupt and investigate those threats and hold perpetrators accountable,” he said.

UPDATE

This story has been updated with comment from Secretary Jena Griswold.

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