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.