Delaware Gov. John CarneyJohn Charles CarneySupreme Court opens new term in divisive era Delaware Gov. John Carney fends off primary challenge Here’s your state’s plan for reopening schools MORE (D) last year signed the pardon of one of the men accused this week of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerMichigan AG says governor, family were moved while tracking militia groups Key battleground states could see delays on election night 13 charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer MORE (D), the Delaware News Journal first reported.
Carney in April 2019 signed off on the pardon for Barry Gordon Croft Jr., who faced a series of charges in Delaware during the mid-1990s, including possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, assault and burglary.
A spokesman for Carney said in a statement that the governor called Croft’s federal charges “disturbing” and called for everyone involved with the kidnapping plot in Michigan to be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This is also another warning sign about the growing threat of violence and radicalization in our politics,” Carney said.
The pardon had been recommended by the five-person Delaware Board of Pardons. The outlet noted that the details of Croft’s hearing are unclear because no minutes were recorded.
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long (D), who chairs the board, said in a statement to the News Journal that pardons are recommended to the governor based on several factors, including “the position of the Department of Justice, the nature of the incident(s), the time lapsed from the last conviction, and the impact on employment and housing.”
Mat Marshall, a spokesman for Attorney General Kathy Jennings (D), said in a statement to the outlet that her predecessor, Matt Denn, did not oppose Croft’s pardon because his criminal record was from two decades ago.
“It appeared to everyone involved that his offenses were in his past and that he had gotten himself on the right track,” Marshall said in a statement.
Marshall added that neither state prosecutors nor the Board of Pardons would have endorsed Croft’s pardon had they known “what the future held.”
“Croft’s actions are horrific and another reminder about the rising tide of political violence by so-called ‘militias,’ the boogaloo boys, the Proud Boys, and other extremist groups,” Marshall said.
Croft was one of six people named in an affidavit and charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Seven other defendants face charges of providing material support for terrorists acts and felony firearm possession.
He was allegedly a member of a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which prosecutors say was attempting to instigate a civil war through attacks on the state Capitol and targeting police officers.
Members of the group are accused of crimes such as conducting surveillance outside of Whitmer’s vacation home, using code language and encrypted messages, and putting a bomb under a bridge to distract police.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said these other Wolverine Watchmen members allegedly requested other members find the home addresses of police officers, “made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse,” and helped in planning an attack on the state Capitol and schemes to kidnap government officials, including Whitmer.
The plan, according to prosecutors, was intended to be completed before the November election but it was foiled by the FBI.