A Florida man was arrested Wednesday and charged with making racially motivated threats against a prospective Charlottesville City Council candidate that interfered with the electoral process.
Daniel McMahon, 31, of Brandon, Florida, was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court on Monday on four counts: willful interference with a candidate for elective office; bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office; threats to injure in interstate commerce; and cyberstalking. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday following McMahon’s arrest.
McMahon is believed to also goes by the name “Jack Corbin” online, a name used to target reporters and activists with threats via Twitter and Gab in the past.
According to the indictment, prior to Jan. 7, an African American resident of Charlottesville, identified by the initials D.G., was planning to announce he would seek a Democratic nomination for the City Council the following day.
According to the indictment, McMahon used the internet and his social media accounts to threaten physical harm, intimidate and interfere with D.G.’s campaigning. Instead of announcing his candidacy on Jan. 8, D.G. announced he would not seek public office, according to the indictment.
McMahon’s Tampa-based attorney, Nick Matassini Jr., told The Associated Press that his client “categorically denies all of the allegations” in the indictment.
“He is looking forward to his day in court,” Matassini said.
According to the AP, McMahon made his initial court appearance in Tampa on Wednesday and was ordered held in custody at a county jail pending a detention hearing on Monday, according to his lawyer.
Though D.G. is not further identified in the complaint, local activist Don Gathers sent a joint press release with fellow activist Michael Payne on Jan. 7 alerting media that they would announce their candidacy for two of the three available Democratic Party nominations the following day.
However, on Jan. 8, Gathers instead announced he would be delaying his campaign, citing “recurring issues” with his health that need to be addressed. He also resigned from the Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board later that night.
Though Gathers said he would later resume his campaign, he has yet to do so, and Payne, along with Sena Magill and Lloyd Snook, won the three Democratic nominations.
In addition the the city’s initial Police CRB, Gathers, 59, has served on numerous city committees, including the Charlottesville Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces. A deacon at First Baptist Church, he is a member of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective and Congregate Charlottesville political action groups. He’s also a co-founder of Charlottesville Black Lives Matter.
Gathers did not return requests for confirmation or comment Wednesday.
“As alleged in the indictment, this defendant was motivated by racial animus and used his social-media accounts to threaten and intimidate a potential candidate for elective office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen said in a press release. “Although the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to broadcast hateful views online, it does not give license to threats of violence or bodily harm.”
The charges of cyberstalking and transmitting threats in interstate commerce carry maximum sentences of five years in prison. The two charges arising from the threats against D.G. because of his race and because he was campaigning for office each carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison.