Man Charged With Felony Over Alleged Threat To Hang Michigan Election Official ‘For Treason’

Andrew Hess a 37-year-old man from Livonia Michigan faces a felony charge after allegedly threatening to hang Oakland County’s director of elections Joe Rozell “for treason.” The incident occurred during a ballot recount in the county on Dec. 15.

On Monday Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald announced her decision to charge Hess with a felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The charge cites a state law that bans making terrorist threats or false reports of terrorism.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Hess walked outside the recount room and stated “hang Joe for treason” referring to Rozell. McDonald a Democrat said there are some individuals who “seek to undermine the integrity of the election process by threatening and intimidating election workers and supervisors.”

In a Jan. 10 interview, with The Detroit News Hess said it was a possibility he had made a remark about treason and hanging at the recount. “I very regularly tell people the penalty for treason is hanging by the neck,” he stated.

Hess’s lawyer Robert Muise argued in a letter to prosecutors that Hess should be protected from prosecution by the First Amendment. Muise called the charge a politically-motivated prosecution aimed at suppressing citizens’ freedom of speech rights to criticize their government.

The Dec. 15 recount was about instituting ranked-choice voting; the measure passed with a narrow 51% majority.