Oath Keepers members list includes hundreds of law enforcement officers, politicians, military members: report

The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies – including as police chiefs and sheriffs – and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

The data raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the U.S. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report says.

Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database doesn’t prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares its ideology. Some people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were briefly members years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Some said they were never dues-paying members.

“Their views are far too extreme for me,” said Shawn Mobley, sheriff of Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the AP in an email that he distanced himself from the Oath Keepers years ago over concerns about its involvement in the standoff against the federal government at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, among other things.

The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

The leaked membership list was published by the journalism collective Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) in September 2021. The ADL’s Center on Extremism went through the 38,000 names on the lists to identify those who held “sensitive positions,” the group said in the report.

The ADL identified 373 people named on the Oath Keepers membership list who are currently serving in law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including at least 10 chiefs of police and 11 sheriffs.

The group also identified 117 people currently serving in the military, on top of 11 people serving in the reserves and another 31 who are military contractors or hold civilian positions.

It said the list included “86 active firefighters (including several fire chiefs), 19 active paramedics, and 31 active emergency technicians appearing in the membership list.”

The ADL identified 81 people who were holding or running for public office across the country as of Aug. 8. “These individuals run the gamut from local office β€” mayors, town councilmembers, school board members β€” to state representatives and senators,” the report stated.

Jensen said he felt compelled to join because he β€œbelieved in the oath that we took to support the US Constitution and to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic.” He wouldn’t say whether he now disavows the Oath Keepers, saying he doesn’t have enough information about the group today.

β€œBack in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group, I can’t speak to them now,” he said.

ADL said it found the names of at least 10 people who now work as police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. All of the police chiefs and sheriffs who responded to the AP said they no longer have any ties to the group.

β€œI don’t even know what they’re posting. I never get any updates,” said Mike Hollinshead, sheriff of Idaho’s Elmore County. β€œI’m not paying dues or membership fees or anything.”

Hollinshead, a Republican, said he was campaigning for sheriff several years ago when voters asked him if he was familiar with the Oath Keepers. Hollinshead said he wanted to learn about the group and recalls paying for access to content on the Oath Keepers’ website, but that was the extent of his involvement.

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