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Last month, Richard Mack emailed the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR). In this email, the former Graham County, Arizona Sheriff and head of the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), expressed dissatisfaction with our article that included a photograph of him and a group of Oath Keepers standing behind the group’s banner.

The Oath Keepers is the far-right paramilitary organization whose leader, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, and members of the group from six states, are facing seditious conspiracy and other charges in connection to the January 6th insurrection.[1]

In his June email to IREHR, Richard Mack conveyed,

“I am a former board member of Oath Keepers. Would it be important for the reader to know why I quit and how long ago? He showed a photo of me with some OKers. What was the date of the photo? Did I meet with them to teach them about our commitment to avoid violence?”[2]

In this article, we take a brief look at evidence of the long-standing relationship between CSPOA and Oath Keepers.

Richard Mack, Stewart Rhodes, and the Oath Keepers

Documents filed with the Nevada Secretary of State confirm that both Richard C. Mack and E. Stewart Rhodes served as “Directors” of the paramilitary group as late as 2014.[3] A photo posted to Facebook in 2013 shows Mack kneeling and looking happy with a group of Oath Keepers, including what appears to be Stewart Rhodes (far right).[4]

Richard Mack with Oath Keepers (front row, second from right) (Source Facebook 2013)

In 2015, now CSPOA Vice President & Legislative Liaison Rick Dalton would write that, “CSPOA, Oathkeepers, and other Constitutionally oriented groups will keep the pressure on to enforce the Constitution as the Founders wrote and envisioned it,” also providing a link to the group’s website.[5]

Mack is reported to have left the group’s board in 2015, and documents filed with the State of Nevada in 2021 indicate that Mack is no longer on the board.[6]

However, there is much more to the story.

In February 2018, the Sheriff Richard Mack Facebook page posted a photo of Mack with a group of Oath Keepers in front of an Oath Keepers’ banner. The post declared, “Riders USA hosted the ‘Protect the 2nd Amendment’ Rally today, and I was glad to be with both them and my longtime friends at Oathkeepers (sic).”[7] This was the photo that Mack mentioned in his email to IREHR, an email that appears to acknowledge that Mack was on hand to “teach” the Oath Keepers.

Richard Mack with Oath Keepers (center in vest and white shirt) (Source: Sheriff Richard Mack Facebook page, 2018)

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was also a guest speaker at CSPOA’s October 12, 2019, conference in Mesa, Arizona.[8]

Richard Mack introduced the Oath Keepers leader at the podium, stating, My dear friend…We have stood shoulder to shoulder in this battle for freedom. And so, Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, will be the next speaker.”[9]

A photo from October 21, 2019 posted on the Sheriff Richard Mack Facebook page shows Mack standing next to Oath Keeper’s leader Stewart Rhodes.[10]

Richard Mack (second from right) with Oath Keepers’ Stewart Rhodes to Mack’s left (Source: Sheriff Richard Mack Facebook page, 2019)

However, Richard Mack is not the only CSPOA leader openly supporting the Oath Keepers.

Sam Bushman and the Oath Keepers

CSPOA National Operations Director Sam Bushman sheds even more light on the ongoing relationship between the two organizations, including in the post-insurrection period.

Rhodes has been a frequent guest and topic of discussion on Sam Bushman’s “Liberty Roundtable” podcast. Between May 2018 and July 2021, Rhodes appeared as a guest on Bushman’s show 13 times, including two shows where Richard Mack was also a guest.

CSPOA’s Sam Bushman

More than any other appearance, however, Rhodes’ interview with CSPOA’s Bushman on the eve of the January 6th insurrection highlights the closeness of the two organizations.

Rhodes appeared on the Liberty Roundtable on January 5, 2021, interviewed by Bushman as the Oath Keepers leader was on the way to Washington D.C. for the January 6 mobilization.

The Liberty Roundtable website summarized that day’s podcast: “Stewart Rhodes warns Jan. 6th will be DISASTER for Trump if Insurrection Act is not invoked! – ‘He Has a Duty To’ Invoke Insurrection Act!… Election protests heading for DC!”[11]

The Insurrection Act refers to an amalgam of statutes passed by Congress between 1792 and 1871 authorizing the President to use the military to suppress insurrections and domestic disturbances under various pressing circumstances – none of which include overturning an election.[12]

On Sam Bushman’s January 5 podcast, Stewart Rhodes spewed a conspiracy theory of a Chinese takeover of the U.S. and noted that “my guys” have indicated that things were then “quiet” in D.C. However, Rhodes explained that it could all go “chaotic” if the mayor of D.C. attempted to “curtail” free speech or assembly rights or “if there’s a really bad outcome in the, uh, in the Congress and the people have just had it. So we’ll see what happens.”[13]

Stewart Rhodes continued,

“Tomorrow is the big day, when we find out what’s gonna happen…I have a bad feeling that the bad guys don’t care what they have to do, they’ll violate their own rules in the house, or McConnell, the traitor, will violate their own rules in the Senate, and do whatever they have to do to rubber stamp, uh, Biden. And so I think what’s gonna have to happen is President Trump has got to put his Lincoln hat on and invoke the Insurrection Act…That’s his only move. It’s all he has left. The Supreme Court is full of traitors…The system from top to bottom and all the branches have been taken over by enemies foreign and domestic. And that’s just the reality, so it’s way worse than what Lincoln faced with the Civil War. This is far, far worse…All the agencies and all the branches, the Chinese have spent money to buy these, these soulless politicians who only care about political power and, uh, and money. That’s where we’re at.”[14]

Bushman echoed back Rhodes’ conspiracy “theory,” responding, “They’ve put in spies, they’ve slept with powerful people, right on up to the top, and now we’re being forced to…deal with it.”

Cutting to the chase, CSPOA’s Bushman continued,

“Let me ask you this, is it possible, Stewart Rhodes,, is it possible to have the right thing happen, in other words, to defend the republic, to carry out the constitutional reality, to keep peace, to stop vote fraud, and stop the deep state, without violence? Is it possible to do, do you think?”

Rhodes’ response was clear:

“Only if President Trump uses his authority as the President, Commander in Chief, and he should do it now. It’s a mistake to wait until tomorrow afternoon when they rubber stamp the nonsense like I say, they’ll violate their own rules to do it…[T]here’s been the Insurrection Act of 1807 for a reason…And in the Constitution itself, there’s the crime of treason, right, Article III Section 3 defines the crime of treason as making war on the United States or aiding its enemies. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening. This is unrestricted warfare, what the communist Chinese call it, being called fourth generation or fifth generation warfare – it’s warfare through every other means, except open conflict…They knew they could not defeat the United States in open combat, so they switched gears. And for the last couple decades, they’ve been undermining and subverting us from the inside out. Then you have domestic enemies, you have the communists, who are more than happy to help, and then you just have the deep state elite who want to rule over us, and they have no problem aligning with the communist Chinese.”[15]

In translation – because he believes the United States is in the grips of a Chinese communist conspiracy and that the county is controlled by “enemies foreign and domestic,” Rhodes held that if Donald Trump failed to invoke the Insurrection Act and overturn the 2020 presidential election, stopping “vote fraud” and the “deep state” would not be possible without violence.

Enter the Militia

CSPOA’s Sam Bushman then turned to another matter, pointing out that media sources have repeatedly called Oath Keepers a militia and asking Rhodes, “Do you consider Oath Keepers a militia group?”

Rhodes responded,

“Well, not in the sense that…I believe a legitimate militia is organic to the town and the county. It’s the people who live in the town or the county. I will tell you this – I have been actively advising and helping to raise and train militias, real militias, across the country. And, if Biden somehow gets his decrepit, you know, Chicom [Chinese communist] butt in the White House, that will be what I’ll be doing 24/7 all over the country.”


This portion of the interview ended with a back and forth between Bushman and Rhodes.

Bushman: “Let me bring up why I’m asking the question because a lot of people are afraid of the word militia. They don’t understand what a militia is. In modern times we’ve perverted and bastardized, pardon the term…militia to the point where people don’t even know what it is in America now. They’re afraid of it and think that it’s a vigilante, crazy group. That’s a lie. Militias are part of the Constitutional Republic and part of the way we became free in the first place. People need to not be afraid of that reality check, should they?”

Rhodes: “Well, exactly…So, we have to get back to the institution. It’s even more important when you’re…dealing with a total war by a foreign power that’s using domestic puppets that are trampling on the people’s rights. And that should sound familiar…We have no representation in this government because it’s stolen.”

As Rhodes continued on his way to Washington D.C., Bushman wrapped up with high praise for the paramilitary leader and a fundraising appeal for Oath Keepers:

“Stewart Rhodes, everybody, doing a phenomenal job as he always does. You know what, one thing you gotta give Stewart Rhodes credit for, he’s always on the ground, always involved, putting his own safety on the line for the people. They don’t roll in and add anger. They don’t roll in and provide escalation. They provide peace and de-escalation…Donate today. They need your financial support…tell them I sent you.”

After the horrors of the January 6th insurrection, when some far-rightists close to law enforcement distanced themselves from the Oath Keepers, Bushman stayed steadfast in his support for the group. Rhodes was a guest on the podcast three more times. The Oath Keepers leader’s travails were a Liberty Roundtable topic of discussion on six additional shows in the post-insurrection period.[16]

In April 2021, three months after the January 6 insurrection, the Liberty Roundtable show website implored,

“Donate to Oath Keepers – WE NEED YOUR MOST GENEROUS SUPPORT TODAY! WE ARE IN A BATTLE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE REPUBLIC. Your contribution to Oath Keepers makes a real difference in the fight to defend the Constitution.”[17]

A summary of the January 15, 2022, Liberty Roundtable podcast announced Bushman “Doubles Down In Defense Of Stewart Rhodes President and Founder of OathKeepers!”[18]

Violence and Non-Violence in the World of CSPOA and Oath Keepers

In his email to IREHR, CSPOA President Richard Mack mentioned that he may have been at the 2018 gathering with Oath Keepers to “teach them about our commitment to avoid violence.”[19]

It’s a common CSPOA disclaimer. CSPOA National Operations Director Sam Bushman starts many a show by declaring, “We reject revolution. We stand for peaceful restoration.”

However, Sam Bushman’s own interview belies these simplistic statements. In the face of Stewart Rhodes’s unequivocal claim that violence would be necessary to stop “vote fraud” and the “deep state” if Trump failed to invoke the Insurrection Act, Bushman – a leader in an organization with multiple ties to active law enforcement officers – did not respond by alerting police to the clear and present potential for violence from a known paramilitary activist. Rather, Bushman praised Rhodes for his “phenomenal job” and launched into a fundraising plea for the far-right paramilitary group.

But this is part and parcel of CSPOA’s playbook –supporting extra-governmental paramilitary activism even as they focus on building a block of sheriffs to overturn the federal government — and now potentially intervening in elections.

And make no mistake, Mack has expressed support for using force by both sheriff’s offices and private militias to overturn federal authority.

In his book, The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope, Mack wrote,

“There is a man who can stop the abuse, end the tyranny, and restore the Constitution, once again, as the supreme law of the land. Yes it is you SHERIFF!…Finally, and most conclusively, the High Sheriff of this country needn’t ask anyone else, not the Supreme Court, not the barber down on Main Street, nor even the Federal Government, how or if he keeps his oath of office…[T]he county sheriff has no obligation to go along with those who subvert the Constitution.”[20]

And CSPOA made clear in a 2014 resolution that their spurious claims about sheriffs’ power go well beyond that found in Printz v. U.S. – which only held that “chief law enforcement officers” were not required to carry out background checks under the Brady bill – including a declaration that, “The following abuses will not be allowed or tolerated… Arrest of citizens or seizure of persons or property without first notifying and obtaining the express consent of the local sheriff.”[21]

Mack also made clear that he would deploy militias against the federal government:

“People get all upset when they hear about militias, but what’s wrong with it? I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to call out my posse against the federal government if it gets out of hand.”

And “out of hand” apparently means being at odds with Mack and CSPOA’s distorted version of the U.S. Constitution, something he elaborated on in his booklet The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope. In that screed, Mack offensively compares the Internal Revenue Service to the German Nazi Gestapo and reveals a framework for a broad-based assault on federal powers to address inequality, protect the environment and protect worker safety, among other things:

“The EPA, FCC, OSHA, Dept. of Education, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, INS, BATFE, HUD, BIA, SEC, the Federal Reserve, DEA, the Forest Service, BLM, and of course, our own American version of the notorious WWII Gestapo, the IRS, all were never meant to be based upon the enumerated powers granted under the Constitution.”[22]

That is, if the Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the Departments of Education or Housing and Urban Development carry out their Constitutionally-backed authorities, in Mack’s vision, the sheriff can unilaterally decide to block them based on a far-right “interpretation” of the U.S. Constitution. In keeping with such a truncated view of the U.S. Constitution, KrisAnne Hall, who holds the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments to be unconstitutional, is a trainer at CSPOA events.

Richard Mack and CSPOA Trainer KrisAnne Hall

And such ideas are taught at CSPOA trainings, as when Michael Peroutka, a CSPOA trainer and former leader of the Maryland chapter of the white nationalist and secessionist League of the South, offered a bit of role-playing at a 2020 CSPOA conference:

“Peroutka stated his demonstration was derived from a presentation given by a sheriff who had also attended the CSPOA event. Peroutka called on audience members, including some armed law enforcement officers, to take on roles in a confrontation between the sheriff and federal and state officials alleged to have betrayed their respective Constitutions.

Starting with an individual to represent the ‘citizens,’ others would represent the branches of state government, a governor at their head. These local government actors then faced off against federal officials who, in Peroutka’s specific example, tells them that ‘he represents the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], and he’s going to say you’re going to abide by those regulations of the EPA.’

At this point, according to Peroutka, because ‘local government gets bribed,’ the audience members representing state officials turn toward the citizen, siding with the federal government.

All save one, that is – the sheriff.”

Peroutka continued, describing what the sheriff does next:

“What he does is, at this point, show that the sheriff goes out in the audience and does what, what does he gather up? [Several audience members say “posse”]. Right, because surrounding the city, now, is the sheriff and his, whatever, his militia, posse, whatever.”

Michael Peroutka

This is the Posse Comitatus vision in which a far-right sheriff can overturn federal laws they think are unconstitutional.

Rather than upholding the Constitution, it is a prescription for insurrection. As witnessed on January 6th, and bolstered by recent Congressional hearings, such an insurrection appeared to grow out of the interplay between actors both inside government (U.S. House members and some Trump officials prepared to overturn the election) and outside government (Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys).

CSPOA, in taking up “election fraud,” is now trumpeting the issue at the heart of the January 6 insurrection inside American law enforcement—the companion of Stewart Rhodes’ vision of violence in the event the election didn’t turn his way.

Richard Mack and CSPOA never fully parted ways with Oath Keepers. Mack and CSPOA continue to ideologically stand “shoulder to shoulder” with insurrectionist far-right paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers. While the Oath Keepers focused on building an outside insurrectionary paramilitary force, CSPOA worked from within, training law officers to overturn the federal government.




[1] As the federal grand jury indictment alleges, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers “planned to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power” through a number of coordinated steps, including “organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics;” and “bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies…to the Capitol grounds;” purchasing an array of firearms and weapons and establishing “QRF” [Quick Response Force] teams “stationed just outside the city…[and] prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington D.C.;” forming two “stacks,” that marched in formation up the steps and breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6; coordinating their activities as the riot ensured; “using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol;” and “continuing to plot, after January 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power.” (United States v. Elmer Stewart Rhodes III et al. United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Grand Jury Sworn in on January 8, 2021. Jan 12, 2022. Available at U.S. Department of Justice.

In public statements and encrypted applications used for communications, Stewart Rhodes would make several statements as these events unfolded, including:

  • “[T]ens of thousands of patriot Americans…will already be in Washington D.C., and many of us will have our mission-critical gear stowed nearby just outside D.C.,” also stating in an open letter on the Oath Keepers website that he and others may have to “take to arms in defense of our God-given liberty.”
  • “I think Congress will screw him [President Trump] over. The only chance we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time is (sic) they don’t do the right thing.”
  • In a message to a team member: “If you want to stow weapons with [the operation leader], you can. He’ll have a secure car trunk or his hotel room (or mine).”
  • To a “Leadership Signal Chat”: “We will have several well-equipped QRFs outside D.C. And there are many, many others, from other groups, who will be watching and waiting on the outside in case of worse case scenarios.”
  • On the “Leadership Intel Chat” in response to an Oath Keeper claiming that anti-fascists were breaching the U.S. Capitol: “Nope. I’m right here. These are Patriots…Pence is doing nothing. As I predicted…All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They’ve had enough.”
  • On the “Leadership Signal Chat”: “Thousands of ticked-off patriots spontaneously marched on the Capitol…You ain’t seen nothing yet…Patriots entering their own Capitol to send a message to the traitors is NOTHING compared to what’s coming.”


[2] Email from Richard Mack to IREHR. June 21, 2022.

[3] Oath Keepers. Entity Details. Nevada Secretary of State. Search for Oath Keepers conducted March 12, 2014.

[4] Rogers, Brad. Facebook. August 25, 2013.

[5] Dalton, Rick. Radical environmentalist, statist group puts out hit-piece using tired labels and ignoring the Constitution. Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. August 24, 2015.; Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Our Leadership. Accessed July 14, 2022.

[6] Oath Keepers. Entity Details. Nevada Secretary of State. Business Information. Accessed July 11, 2022; Mencimer, Stephanie. He Was a Board Member of the Oath Keepers. Now He’s Holding State-Approved Trainings for Law Enforcement in Texas. Mother Jones. October 29, 2021.

[7] Sheriff Richard Mack. Facebook. February 17, 2018.

[8] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. CSPOA 2019 Conference Video. Accessed July 6, 2022; Sheriff Richard Mack. Facebook. October 21, 2019.

[9] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Conference 2019. Stewart Rhodes.

[10] Sheriff Richard Mack. Facebook. October 21, 2019.

[11] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1 – 1/5/2021. Posted January 5, 2021 by Sam Bushman.

[12] Nunn, Joseph. The Insurrection Act Explained. Brennan Center for Justice. April 21, 2022.

[13] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1 – 1/5/2021. Posted January 5, 2021 by Sam Bushman.

[14] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1 – 1/5/2021. Posted January 5, 2021 by Sam Bushman.

[15] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1 – 1/5/2021. Posted January 5, 2021 by Sam Bushman.

[16] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Search for “rhodes” conducted July 11, 2022.

[17] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1. April 20, 2021.

[18] Liberty Roundtable, Sam Bushman & Friends. Radio Show Hour 1. January 15, 2022.

[19] Email from Richard Mack to IREHR. June 21, 2022.

[20] Mack, Richard. 2009. The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope. Richard Mack. Pima, Arizona.

[21] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Resolution Of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. January 24, 2014.

[22] Mack, Richard. 2009. The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope. Richard Mack. Pima, Arizona.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

More posts by Chuck Tanner