A Missouri public school worker who was outraged by an Arizona state election official who called Donald Trump “insane” now faces federal charges over a threatening message that prosecutors say provoked him for most of a year could put behind bars for a decade.
Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, was arraigned Tuesday on one charge of transmitting an interstate threat and one charge of making a threatening phone call, which carry maximum sentences of five and two years, respectively.
Hoornstra, who calls himself “Butch,” works as the technology director for the R-5 school district in Gainesville, Missouri, district superintendent Justin Gilmore confirmed to The Daily Beast and declined to comment further. Hoornstra does not yet have a lawyer listed in court filings and could not be reached for comment.
Although the indictment doesn’t name Hoornstra’s target, the object of his alleged anger was actually Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, his office told The Daily Beast. Richer “was notified of the charges by the Phoenix FBI yesterday, August 16, 2022,” his assistant Justin Heywood said in an email, adding, “Recorder Richer would like to express his gratitude to law enforcement for their vigilance on behalf of election officials.” and poll workers across the country.”
The case against Hoornstra can be traced back to spring last year. At the time, Maricopa’s election results were subjected to a mock audit of the 2020 election by Cyber Ninjas, an inexperienced and subsequently discredited Florida firm operating at the behest of Trump-supporting Arizona Republicans who refused to see the former president’s defeat to accept against Joe Biden.
“Nobody stole Maricopa County’s election,” Richer later wrote in an open letter to his fellow Republicans. “Elections in Maricopa County are not rigged.”
But on May 15, 2021, Trump made one of many public statements in which he cast unfounded doubts about the election results with debunked conspiracy theories alongside outright lies.
“The entire database of Maricopa County, Arizona has been DELETED!” Trump – who had been banned from Twitter for inciting violence – posted on his personal website. “This is illegal and the Arizona State Senate, which is conducting the forensic review, is in turmoil. Also, the seals on the boxes containing the votes have been broken, ballots are missing, and worse. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich will now be forced to investigate this incredible election crime. Many far-left Democrats and weak Republicans are very concerned that this has been exposed.”
Of course none of that was true.
The same day, Richer, a lawyer by training, tweeted his thoughts on Trump’s obviously false accusations.
“Wow,” Richer wrote. “It got out of hand. I’m literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. At the moment. We can no longer give in to these insane lies. As a party. as a state. As a country. This is as easily falsifiable as 2+2=5. If we don’t call that out…”
Apparently that was too much for Hoornstra. On May 19, 2021, the FBI says he called Richer’s personal cell phone and left the following voicemail:
“As I see you are for fair and competent elections, it says here on your homepage for your recorder position you are trying to fly here. But you call things crazy and insane lies when a forensic examination takes place. You have to check yourself. You gotta do your damn job right because other people from other states are watching your ass. If you don’t honor that deal or give them any more trouble, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting.”
Sixteen months later, Hoornstra would be handcuffed.
“The FBI is committed to vigorously investigating and holding accountable anyone who threatens poll workers,” FBI Deputy Director Luis Quesada said in a statement. “These officials protect our basic right to vote by conducting fair and free elections. Any attempts to disrupt our elections by intimidating election officials, their staff and volunteers with threats of violence will not be tolerated.”
The ex-president has continued to anger his supporters over the 2020 election, which Trump has stressed has not affected the outcome of widespread fraud. Trump’s relentless public pronouncements, which span a myriad of topics but mostly focus on his claims of being repeatedly “unfairly treated,” have already had serious real-world consequences.
Earlier this week, a Pennsylvania man was arrested for threatening to assassinate as many federal agents as possible after he was allegedly enraged by the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club for sensitive White House government documents . Days earlier, a gunman attempted to storm the FBI’s Cincinnati field office and was subsequently killed in a shootout with police officers. The suspect, 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer, had been active on social media before his death, casting doubt on the 2020 election and calling for “war on the communists who have chemically neutralized.” [sic] hasty [sic] kids and call it gender reassignment.”
On Wednesday, Richer took to Twitter again to comment – this time on Hoornstra’s arrest.
“Thanks to @FBI for working on this case.” he wrote. “Very useful. Unfortunately, I have MUCH more to keep them occupied. And, worse, the same goes for some of the non-public members of @RecordersOffice and @MaricopaVote.”
In addition to jail time, Hoornstra faces fines of up to $500,000 if convicted.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/watching-your-ass-school-worker-walter-butch-hoornstra-threatened-arizona-elections-official-feds-say?source=articles&via=rss School worker Walter Butch Hoornstra threatened Arizona election official, Feds say