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In the wake of dozens of Illinois sheriffs declaring their refusal to enforce a recently-passed gun law, the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) has stepped up a campaign to infiltrate Illinois law enforcement and galvanize far-right efforts across the state.

Passed in January, the Protect Illinois Communities Act bars the manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, and delivery of assault weapons and attachments, 0.50 caliber rifles and cartridges, and large-capacity magazines.[1]

On January 11, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association (ISA), a state non-profit headed by Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk, issued a “Legislative Alert” declaring that it had “OPPOSED this legislation throughout its development and REMAINS OPPOSED to the bill as passed.” On the same day, LaSalle County Sheriff Adam C. Diss issued a statement on ISA letterhead and posted on the ISA Facebook page, stating that,

“neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arrested or housing law abiding individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance with the Act.”[2]

Kaitschuk told the Associated Press that more than 90 Illinois Sheriffs issued similar statements based on the ISA template.[3]

Illinois Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk

With COVID and election denial activism slowing, CSPOA pounced on the opportunity to use the gun issue to infiltrate law enforcement, radicalize law enforcement officers, and grow the organization’s stature. CSPOA had previously used gun issues as an entry point, such as during the Obama administration when the group had over four hundred law enforcement personnel around the country sign on to a “non-compliance” pledge.

On a January 24 “Posse Intel Webinar,” CSPOA CEO and National Operations Director Sam Bushman announced his group’s response – a March 4 CSPOA training in Illinois and an accompanying rally “in defense of these 90 plus sheriffs” opposing the law. Bushman described Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard as “one of the lead sheriffs sponsoring the event.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard (far right) and CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman

An Evite page announced an invite-only “Sheriff Mack Training” on March 4 in Springfield, Illinois. Initially scheduled to take place at Radiant Life Church, the location was later changed to Venue 1929, a private event center. The Evite also repeats the Posse Comitatus view of policing pressed by CSPOA, stating, “The law enforcement powers held by the sheriff supersede those of any agent, officer, elected official or employee from any level of government when in the jurisdiction of the county.”[4]

The Evite lists Rolling Meadows-based far-right conspiracy theorist Danny Banks as the “host,” continuing that, “Along with Sheriff Mack, I have a Lt. Colonel in the US Marines that would like to talk with all the officers. I’m working on getting this training approved as CE [Continuing Education] hours for sheriffs that attend.”[5]

To date, Texas and Virginia already offer Continuing Education credits to officers who attend CSPOA’s Posse Comitatus-inspired trainings.

A CSPOA announcement declared the training a “Revolutionary Event,” describing that was “in support” of “Sheriffs across Illinois…refusing to enforce the state’s unconstitutional gun ban” and that the workshop would be “critical and should interest anyone who wishes to Restore Constitutional Law in America.”[6]

An event flyer described that it would be “hosted by” the American Police Officers Alliance (APOA), Macon County Sheriff Jim Root and Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard.  Richard Mack is the sole Advisory Board members listed on the APOA website, a position he assumed in November 2021. The event is also set to feature former Elkhart County, Indiana Sheriff and current County Commissioner Brad Rogers.[7]

CSPOA’s Illinois effort got a boost when ISA head Jim Kaitschuk sent out a January 16 event announcement from a local CSPOA organizer to sheriffs across the state – Perry County Commissioner and far-right conspiracist Jennifer Martin. In her January 13 message to Kaitschuk, Martin wrote,

“Per our conversation, this is the info that I was referring to. If any sheriffs are interested, please tell them to contact me. Our tentative date for Sheriff Mack to be in Illinois is Feb 4. This can be moved further back if enough sheriffs show interest, however not too much farther as Illinois is under distress.”[8]

The date would later change to March 4, but word quickly spread through sheriff departments across the state.

A “Constitutional Revival”: Using Far-Right Sheriffs to Recruit More Sheriffs

The email from ISA and Jennifer Martin to Illinois sheriffs illustrates a critical aspect of CSPOA recruitment and radicalization efforts – namely, the role played by sheriffs supportive of the far-right organization in drawing additional law officers into the fold.

For instance, the CSPOA propaganda sent to Illinois sheriffs included a list of training endorsements from seven Texas sheriffs.[9] In addition to using these sheriffs to appeal to other law enforcement officers, the endorsements make clear that those sheriffs actively promoting CSPOA are particularly drawn to the group’s “interpretation” of the U.S. Constitution – aka, the far right Constitutionally-constructed nationalism espoused by the group.

Displaying the fervor that characterizes this nationalist movement, Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove declared, “The CSPOA training is a constitutional revival.” Hargrove, whose department hosted a CSPOA training, described that the training would also affect his policing practices:

“This training was very effective in learning how the Constitution applies in my daily job and how I can apply it. I would like to have the CSPOA come to my count to lead a training class…This training will help me change my practice for using the Constitution more often.”

Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove

This practical impact described by Hargrove is of particular concern given CSPOA’s anti-immigrant politics and the history of some CSPOA-affiliated sheriffs, including Richard Mack, threatening, intimidating, and/or taking money from immigrants.

Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe commented, “Very effective knowledge of the Constitution and great presentation of the Oath of Office… We need more law enforcement to attend this training.” Coryell County Sheriff Scott Williams declared, “The CSPOA is the most beneficial and important law enforcement and constitutional training organization in the USA.”

And Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd described, “I will highly recommend this course to our Sheriff’s Alliance (Texas Regional Sheriff’s Alliance. TCOLE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) should highlight and promote this course more. Please offer more instruction on the Constitution and upholding the Oath of Office.”

Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd

This emphasis on the “Oath of Office” is also a critical part of CSPOA’s nationalist mythology, signaling an officer’s commitment to enforcing the group’s far-right vision of government in which sheriffs can overturn democracy – an ideological feature CSPOA shares with the insurrectionist Oath Keepers.

Not incidentally, Mack previously served as an Oath Keeper’s board member and CSPOA leaders have maintained a relationship with the group. Six Oath Keepers leaders, including Richard Mack’s “dear friend” Stewart Rhodes, were recently convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection to their role in the January 6 insurrection.

Other Texas law officers praising CSPOA included Wichita County Sheriff David Duke [no, not that David Duke], Victoria County Sheriff Justin Marr, and Rockwall County Sheriff Terry Garrett.

Emails obtained by IREHR in FOIA requests to Illinois sheriff departments provide further evidence of the crucial role of supporting sheriffs and public officials in CSPOA gaining traction, or not, in a state.

On the first count, emails between Illinois Sheriff’s Association head Jim Kaitschuk and multiple sheriffs indicate that both Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard’s actions and Jennifer Martin’s covid denial activism played a role in jumping CSPOA onto ISA’s agenda. An email from Kaitschuk to several sheriffs dated January 13, and containing Jennifer Martin’s appeal on behalf of CSPOA, described,

“I spoke to this gal earlier today at the request of Sheriff Bullard. She is ‘interesting’ and has been at the forefront of the covid (sic) suits and other issues. She wanted our involvement in all this and wanted us to share this. My thought would be to just share this with sheriffs as an FYI and that be it. Thoughts?”[10]

Bullard appeared on the Richard Mack Show with CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman in late January.[11] Bullard wrote on January 24, “You guys are on the popular list with Facebook. It won’t let me share the link on my Sheriff’s page. Anyway you guys can send me MP4 file of the show? I would be happy to be on the show in the future.”[12]

In another instance, CSPOA’s efforts were undermined by a sheriff who deemed the group “too far right.” This occurred after Lee County Board Member (District 1) Angela Shippert reached out to Lee County Administrator Wendy Ryerson, asking that she have county State’s Attorney Charles Boonstra review a copy of an Elko County Board of Commissioners Resolution in which that Nevada county had joined CSPOA. Shippert hoped that the resolution could be “altered” and put on the Public Safety Committee agenda, describing that,

“Because of the nature of the document, this would signal to our Sheriff our desire to not only belong to the group but to uphold the 2nd ammendment (sic), etc. as put forth in our constition (sic), much like he already has. We would be one of just a handful of counties in the nation to act on a resolution of this nature.”[13]

Ryerson expressed her discomfort with the request but cc’d it to Boonstra, who forwarded the message to Lee County Sheriff Clay Whelan, stating, “Thought you should be aware of this before it gets too far down the line.”[14]

Sheriff Whelan responded, “I think that is getting a little too far right for me. I liked and applauded the last resolution, but this one (sic) overboard for me.” Boonstra responded, “I agree.”[15]

Sheriff Whelan had issued a letter on January 11 indicating that his department would not be making arrests based on “non-compliance” with the Protect Illinois Community Act.[16]

While Whelen rejected elevating CSPOA’s status in the state, according to information obtained from IREHR FOIA requests, at the time of publication, ten individuals have indicated that they will or may attend the March 4 training, including  Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard, Adams County Sheriff Anthony Grootens, and Winnebago Count Sheriff Gary Caruana.[17]

Radicalizing Sheriffs

The endorsements from Texas sheriffs included in CSPOA propaganda demonstrated that these law officers were most attracted to CSPOA’s pseudo-Constitutional framework – the very thing that compels far-rightists down the radicalization rabbit hole and ends in the actions of groups like Oath Keepers.

Further insight into CSPOA’s radicalization efforts came when Macon County Sheriff Jim Root appeared on the Sheriff Mack Show on February 7. Root’s appearance began by shedding light on the ideological overlap between some sheriffs and CSPOA. Commenting on election denier Mike Lindell’s appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Root repeated the debunked claim made by co-host and CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman that Trump’s and affiliated lawsuits aimed at overturning the 2020 election results were rejected solely based on standing and not the merits of the evidence. Root commented that if people like Lindell go on shows like this,

“you’re going to get attacked…if you don’t think that the elections (sic) was correct. Yeah, they’re going to come after you…they’re gonna try to belittle you…If you stand up and stand your ground, they don’t have a leg to stand on because their philosophies of, you know, this didn’t happen is not correct because everybody knows that people in elections, they do make mistakes. Now does it result to the amount of what Trump had in 2020? I can’t tell you because, as he said, they have not looked at, the judges have not looked at it.”[18]

Root’s appearance also laid bare that one of CSPOA’s aims in Illinois is the radicalization of sheriffs – and, in particular, attempting to push law officers in the direction of arresting those public officials who don’t comport with CSPOA’s far right and anti-democratic nationalism.

Macon County Sheriff Jim Root (far right) with Richard Mack (center) and Sam Bushman (left)

Bushman asked Root about Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker allegedly violating the Constitution through the Illinois gun law, saying,

“So when the governor violates the supreme law to that degree…to me that’s criminal activity and the governor should be arrested…Now, I’m just a layman and not a police officer…But I’m just asking from Joe Q Public, sheriff, what the heck, can’t we just stop this criminal?”[19]

Mack further pushed Root, “If I swear an oath, and I wittingly and knowingly violate that oath, have I not committed perjury, and is that not a criminal act?”[20]

Refusing to take the bait, and even as he claimed that Illinois is “one of the most corrupt states,” Root answered that oaths sworn in courtrooms, not those in ceremonies, constitute perjury when violated and that Pritzker’s law would be dealt with in the courts. Root nonetheless encouraged the CSPOA leaders to “get the word out to what the organization does and educate the other sheriffs.”[21]

Asked a similar question by Sam Bushman during his appearance on the Sheriff Mack Show, Sheriff Jeff Bullard responded that if Pritzker

“calls out a sheriff by name and threatens to remove them from office, for them upholding their oath and sticking to their duties…if he would threaten a sheriff by name to have them arrested or removed from office for doing their Constitutional duty, I would believe that he would cross the line at that point. But to my knowledge, he hasn’t done that yet.”[22]

Bullard declared, “This is literally a battle between good and evil.”[23]

When Bushman asked, “What do we need to be doing, and where is this headed?” Bullard referenced opposition to COVID-19-related mandates and lawsuits to stop gun control laws, such as the Illinois law, ultimately concluding,

“We need more sheriffs, especially, who are the top Constitutional peace officer in each county that they serve – we need more of them to be vocal and to step up and saying, you know when I look through the Constitutional lens at this law, or this action, that it’s wrong, and we’re not going to do it and if it comes to our county, we’re going to stop that. We’re going to do what it takes to stop that in our county.”[24]

In the end, Bushman and Mack’s attempt to press Root and Bullard on the issue betrayed these far-right leaders’ efforts to radicalize Illinois sheriffs.

As evidenced by Bullard’s comments, some law officers in the state are already there.

Anyone concerned about democracy and human and civil rights should take heed, stand up and fight back to stop the descent of American law enforcement into the abyss of the far right.

Next up, IREHR looks at the far-right activity of the local Illinois organizers of the CSPOA event.


[1] Illinois Governor. Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Banning Assault Weapons and Sale of High-Capacity Magazines. January 10, 2023.

[2] Illinois Sheriff’s Association. Facebook. January 11, 2023.; Illinois Sheriff’s Association. Facebook. January 11, 2023.

[3] O’Connor, John. Illinois governor, sheriffs spar over semiautomatic gun law. Associated Press. January 13, 2023.

[4] Sheriff Mack Training. Evite. Accessed February 7, 2022 and February 17, 2023; Venue 1929. Accessed February 17, 2023.

[5] Sheriff Mack Training. Evite. Accessed February 7, 2022

[6] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. ILLINOIS SHERIFFS AND THE AMERICAN POLICE OFFICERS ALLIANCE ARE PLEASE TO ANNOUNCE Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.

[7] American Police Officers Association. Advisory Committee. Accessed February 16, 2023.; Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Presenting THE COUNTY SHERIFF AMERICA’S LAST HOPE. Event Announcement; American Police Officers Association. Sheriff Richard Mack Joins American Police Officers Alliance as Newest Advisory Board Member. November 9, 2021.

[8] Response to public records request from Peoria County Sheriff’s Department. February 9, 2023; Email to Peroria County Sheriff’s Department from Jim Kaitschuk, Illinois Sheriff’s Association. January 16, 2023; Email from Jennifer Martin to Jim Kaitschuck. January 13, 2023.


[10] Email from Jim Kaitschuk to Dwight Baird, Richland County Sheriff Andrew Hires, Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle, Nick Petitgout. January 13, 2023.

[11] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The Sheriff Mack Show: Sam Bushman ft. Sheriff Jeff Bullard. January 24, 2023.

[12] Email from Jeff Bullard to January 24, 2023.

[13] Email from Angela Shippert to Wendy Ryerson. January 24, 2023; Lee County Illinois. Staff Director. County Board. Accessed February 14, 2023.

[14] Email from Wendy Ryerson to Lee County Chair, cc’d to Charley Boonstra. January 24, 2023; email from Charley Boonstra to Clay Whelan. January 24, 2023.

[15] Email from Clay Whelan to Charley Boonstra. January 24, 2023; Email from Charley Boonstra to Clay Whelan. January 24, 2023.

[16] Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Clayton T. Whelan. Press Release. January 11, 2023.

[17] Sheriff Mack Training. Evite. Accessed February 7, 2022

[18]The Sheriff Mack Show. Sheriff Richard Mack & Sam Bushman with Sheriff Jim Root. February 7, 2023.;  For evidence countering this claim, see Reuters Staff. Fact check: Courts have dismissed multiple lawsuits of alleged electoral fraud presented by Trump campaign. February 15, 2022.

[19] The Sheriff Mack Show. Sheriff Richard Mack & Sam Bushman with Sheriff Jim Root. February 7, 2023.

[20] The Sheriff Mack Show. Sheriff Richard Mack & Sam Bushman with Sheriff Jim Root. February 7, 2023.

[21] The Sheriff Mack Show. Sheriff Richard Mack & Sam Bushman with Sheriff Jim Root. February 7, 2023.

[22] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The Sheriff Mack Show: Sam Bushman ft. Sheriff Jeff Bullard. January 24, 2023.

[23] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The Sheriff Mack Show: Sam Bushman ft. Sheriff Jeff Bullard. January 24, 2023.

[24] Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The Sheriff Mack Show: Sam Bushman ft. Sheriff Jeff Bullard. January 24, 2023.

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