Leaked list shows Oath Keeper members include elected officials and military personnel

Group is a loosely organised, conspiracy theory-fuelled organisation that recruits current and former military, police and first responders.

A man wearing an Oath Keepers shirt stands outside the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Hundreds of elected US officials, military personnel and law enforcement officers appear on a leaked membership list of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, a report on Wednesday showed.

The civil rights organisation the Anti-Defamation League said it had identified 370 people on the 38,000-member list, and more than 100 work in the military.

The report also identified 80 people who are running or have served in public office as of early August.

“The range of individuals represented in the Oath Keepers leak shows the extent to which this extremist ideology has gained acceptance,” the organisation said in its report.

The list raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in police units and the military, which are responsible for enforcing laws and protecting the US.

It is especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time of increased threats of violence against politicians, agencies and institutions.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organisation 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 does not prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or that they share 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.

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

The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organised, conspiracy theory-fuelled group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders.

It asks its members to vow to defend the US 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.

More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers — including Mr Rhodes — have been charged in connection with the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Mr Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weekslong plot to keep then-president Donald Trump in power.

The Oath Keepers facing charges say that they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: September 07, 2022, 5:45 PM
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL