by Cole Lauterbach
A Republican member of the Arizona Legislature says her family’s safety is her first priority after getting a threatening email over her scrutiny of Maricopa County’s 2020 election.
State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, posted a screenshot of an email from an account named Matt Boster that started out by calling her a racial slur.
The sender references the audit in the email, inferring that Ugenti-Rita is withholding it from the public.
“… you have one chance to give the American people the Audit report or [we’re] coming for you, we know where you live, we know where you get groceries, we know where your family lives,” the email read. “You better do the right thing or [you’re] going to feel the consequences.”
Ugenti-Rita said she had referred the matter to law enforcement.
“My family’s safety is my [No. 1] priority [and] I will NOT tolerate anyone going after me or my family,” Ugenti-Rita tweeted. “Due to misinformation [and] the unmet expectations of the public surrounding the audit, threats like this will unfortunately continue.”
The post was apparently the reason Senate President Karen Fann released a statement hours earlier saying that, no matter where one’s opinions on the audit stands, threats against a lawmaker or their family are “unacceptable.”
“I understand passions run high on the issue of voter integrity, but personal attacks and threats of violence cross the line,” Fann, R-Prescott, said Friday in a statement. “It is not a partisan issue; party affiliation doesn’t matter when it comes to personal safety. Members of the Legislature receiving threats will report any acts of intimidation or aggression to the authorities.”
A Texas-based audit supporter named Seth Keshel shared Ugenti-Rita’s legislative email and phone number the day before she received the threat, suggesting people reach out to her regarding the results of an independent canvass of voters in Maricopa County led by Liz Harris, a former candidate for a seat in the state House.
“Here is a RINO that needs a serious assist,” Keshel said in a post to Telegram on Sept. 9. “Tell her and her staff you need answers on Maricopa canvass results and if they try to distract based on a published correction, tell them to read the report.”
Keshel was not reachable for comment Monday. His post had been viewed more than 100,000 times.
He released his own analysis of the 2020 election that accuses Maricopa County and many others of “rampant fraud.” Keshel’s report got the attention of former President Donald Trump, who released a statement praising it.
Ugenti-Rita is not the first state official to receive threats tied to the challenge of Maricopa County’s 2020 election. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey assigned Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, police protection in May after she reportedly received death threats.
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Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.
Photo “Michelle Ugenti-Rita” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.