JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lies and misinformation are being blamed for election officials receiving ongoing threats, according to a House Oversight Committee report released Thursday, which was the same day a man breached an FBI office in Ohio in an attempt to harm FBI agents.
Hours before breaching the FBI facility in Ohio, Ricky Shiffer, 42, posted to Truth Social, a social media platform founded by former President Donald Trump, calling for FBI agents to be killed and for people to be ready to take up arms.
It was a threat that he appeared to take into action when the Navy veteran attempted to breach the visitor screening area of the FBI office, officials said. He then fled the scene and agents confronted him, leading to a standoff with authorities, and Shiffer was shot.
The U.S. House of Representatives announced Thursday that they too are learning of threats to politicians and election officials.
The House Oversight Committee report also said:
“Misinformation led to violent death threats against local election officials, often inspired by comments from right-wing politicians and activists, leading many experienced officials to leave their positions.”
As violent rhetoric continues to circulate around the country, a former FBI agent is speaking to News4JAX about how the federal agency may be preparing for the days ahead.
Former FBI Agent Toni Chrabot had a warning for anyone considering following through with a threat of violence:
“It’s unproductive, you know, that’s my first response. Because historically, there have been all types of causes and people that want to get their message across. It has been from human rights, civil rights, religious rights, abortion rights, and when you use violence, it’s just not productive,” Chrabot said.
Chrabot also told News4JAX that there appears to be an uptick in these threats. In fact, News4JAX learned just last week that Duval County’s Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan could have been in danger following the 2020 election.
“The sheriff assigned three officers to come by my house, there was some chatter. Nothing happened, but, you know, there may have been some type of alleged ‘I’m going to do this.’ I do not know, that was never clear,” Hogan told us in a previous interview.
Hogan also told us local poll workers are being trained for situations that they may encounter. Chrabot said the FBI will be working closely with law enforcement to protect election workers, politicians and law enforcement officers themselves.
“Well, they’re going to do what they’ve always done. They are going to take in the information. They are going to evaluate it. They are going to open an investigation when it’s appropriate and they’re going to follow where the evidence leads,” Chrabot said.
“Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you are upset with,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement released Thursday.
The House report also stated the threats are affecting upcoming elections, reporting one in five election workers are unlikely to return to their jobs at the polls this year.