Woman charged in threats against Michigan election official
A woman angry with a Detroit-area election official sent photos of a dead body and threatened her family, a day after a clamorous meeting at which Republican board members initially refused to certify local results in favor of Joe Biden, authorities said Wednesday.
Katelyn Jones, 23, was charged with making a threat of violence. She sent a series of disturbing messages by phone and on social media that referred to Monica Palmer of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers as a terrorist and racist, the FBI said in a court filing.
Jones has ties to Olivet, Michigan, according to her driver’s license, but the FBI said she sent the threats from Epping, New Hampshire, where she was staying with her mother, and she was arrested there.
“The allegations in this case should make all of us disgusted,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “There is simply no place in Michigan, or in the United States, for chilling threats like this to people who are simply doing what they believe is correct. ... This is not the only threat case related to the election that we are investigating.”
Jones appeared in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, and was told to report to court in Detroit on Jan. 13. She must participate in a mental health program. Her attorney declined to comment.
A message seeking comment from Palmer wasn’t immediately returned.
Palmer chaired a raucous meeting of the Board of Canvassers on Nov. 17. She and a fellow Republican on the four-member board initially refused to certify Wayne County’s election results, typically a routine step on the way to statewide certification. They cited problems with absentee ballots in Detroit.
When the meeting turned to public comment, Palmer and William Hartmann were criticized for hours by people watching on video conference. They subsequently changed their votes and certified the election totals, saying they were assured by the board’s two Democrats that a post-election audit would be performed. Biden won the county on Nov. 3 with 68% of the vote.
“You have made a grave mistake. I hope you realize that now,” Jones told Palmer a day after the meeting, according to the FBI.
The threats included photos of a woman’s nude, bloody body and references to Palmer’s daughter, the FBI said.
“I’d be a shame if something happened to your daughter at school,” Jones said, according to investigators.
Jones admitted making the threats when interviewed by agents Tuesday because she felt Palmer was “interfering with the election,” the FBI said in a court filing.
Palmer and Hartmann said they voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated. They said President Donald Trump reached out to them in support immediately after the November meeting.
There was no evidence of widespread voting fraud in Michigan or any other state, experts said.