The Department of Justice on Friday charged a Texas man who allegedly posted a message on Craigslist in which he called for the murder of government officials in Georgia as a runoff election was wrapping up.
Chad Stark, 54, was arrested by FBI agents on Friday morning. He is expected to appear in federal court in Austin later in the day, facing one charge of communicating interstate threats.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
On Jan. 5, 2021, the day of the Senate runoff election in Georgia and one day prior to the Capitol insurrection in Washington, DC, Stark allegedly posted a $10,000 bounty on the Atlanta page of Craigslist that called on "Georgia Patriots" to kill three government figures.
"It’s our duty as American Patriots to put an end to the lives of these traitors and take back our country by force we can no longer wait on the corrupt law enforcement in the corrupt courts," he allegedly wrote. "If we want our country back we have to exterminate these people."
The DOJ did not identify the officials Stark was said to have threatened, but the message also made references to "corrupt" governors and judges, as well as law enforcement officers who "stop Patriot supporters."
On his Facebook page, Stark had expressed his support for Donald Trump by liking the pages "Trump 2020" and "Donald Trump Is Our President."
Stark's is the first criminal case brought by the DOJ's Election Threats Task Force, which was established in July in response to an unprecedented wave of threats nationwide against elections workers and officials.
In a call to reporters on Friday, DOJ officials declined to comment on what role Trump's rhetoric played in fueling the threats or whether they had seen evidence of foreign actors being involved.
But Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. told reporters that the task force had reviewed more than 850 similar threats against elections workers and currently had dozens of cases open for investigation.
"These unsung heroes came under unprecedented verbal attack for doing nothing more than their jobs," Polite said. "We will not tolerate the intimidation of those who safeguard our election."
Stark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.