Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.
Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

Livonia Man Charged For Alleged Threat Against Election Clerk 

04/02/24 10:52 AM By Team MIRS

(Source: MIRS.news, Published 04/01/2024) A 37-year-old Livonia man is accused of threatening an Oakland County election official. 

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald Monday charged Andrew Fred Hess with making a false report or threat of terrorism. 

"The integrity of our elections is essential to democracy," McDonald said in a statement. "We need dedicated, ethical public servants to conduct that process and to do it transparently – we should invite public scrutiny. 

"But there are individuals who seek to undermine the integrity of the election process by threatening and intimidating election workers and supervisors," she added. "Those threats don't just impact our election workers, they put our democracy at risk, and they will not be tolerated." 

Hess faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $20,000 if he is convicted as charged. 

Hess' attorney, Robert Muise, of the American Freedom Law Center in Ann Abor, said he was "only recently informed" that Hess would be charged "for making 'threats of terrorism.'" 

"We have not seen any charging document, so I cannot comment specifically on that," Muise told MIRS today. "However, it is evident that this is a politically-motivated prosecution designed to silence people who have objections to the way in which elections are conducted.  

"Mr. Hess' speech is protected by the First Amendment, and we intend to vigorously defend his and every other American's right to speak freely, including their right to criticize government officials," he added. 

Muise said in a January letter to McDonald that Oakland County Elections Director Joe Rozell made a "false complaint" against Hess, according to a report in The Detroit News. 

The letter says, "Please know that we have video of the alleged 'threat,' which amounts to little more than Mr. Hess asserting the opinion that cheating on elections is 'treason' under the law." 

The prosecutor alleges Hess walked outside a recount room on Dec. 15 stating, "Hang Joe for treason." The statement allegedly was in reference to the county’s Elections Director Joe Rozell and came during a recount of several local elections from November at the County Complex in Pontiac. 

A witness who heard the statement reported it to law enforcement, McDonald said. 

The recount centered on a Royal Oak ballot proposal that would have allowed for ranked choice voting. The measure passed with 51 percent support – or about 160 votes.