A Nebraska man pleaded guilty today to making multiple threatening posts on an Instagram page associated with an election official.
According to court documents, Travis Ford, 42, of Lincoln, made multiple threats in August 2021 toward the election official, specifically: “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.”
“The Justice Department will not tolerate illegal threats of violence against public officials,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
“Threatening violence against election workers in an attempt to intimidate them while in performance of their duties will not be tolerated,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Threats to election workers have no place in our society, and today’s plea demonstrates the success of our collaborative efforts to ensure the safety of the workers we entrust to effectuate the democratic process.”
“We are proud to work with our partners at FBI Denver, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska, and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division to hold this defendant accountable for threatening an election official in Colorado,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado. “If you make online threats of violence, do not count on remaining anonymous.”
Ford also posted similar messages on Instagram pages associated with the President of the United States and with another public figure.
Ford is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6 and faces up to two years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Steven A. Russell for the District of Nebraska, and Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.
FBI Denver is investigating the case, with the assistance of FBI Omaha.
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 are prosecuting the case. Substantial assistance was provided by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron M. Teitelbaum and Cyrus Y. Chung for the District of Colorado.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force. Announced by Attorney General Merrick B. 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. Nearly 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.