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With the far-right pro-paramilitary group CSPOA attempting to infiltrate Idaho law enforcement, we alerted sheriffs across the state about the dangers and urged them to reject CSPOA’s advances. Here’s the letter we sent to sheriffs and Governor Brad Little. 

April 8, 2024

Dear Sheriff:

It has come to our attention that a notorious group with ties to insurrectionists and white nationalists is attempting to recruit law enforcement in Idaho, potentially including you and your deputies.

We are reaching out to your department with a sense of urgency and concern regarding the upcoming plans by the so-called Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) for an all-day event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on April 13th. CSPOA leader Richard Mack also announced a special morning session “open to law enforcement.” It is crucial to consider the potential risks and implications of participating in this event.

In addition to the concerns of our organization, it is important to note that both the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center categorize CSPOA as an “anti-government extremist” group. This classification should raise serious concerns and prompt a cautious approach towards any involvement with the CSPOA.

The far-right pro-paramilitary group promotes the long-discredited idea derived from the violently racist and antisemitic Posse Comitatus that sheriffs can usurp the judicial branch’s role in interpreting the Constitution and unilaterally override federal, state, and local laws. The sheriff’s job is challenging enough without being saddled with these unconstitutional burdens.

Here are some facts about the group’s founder, the current CEO, the advisory board, and members for you to consider.

CSPOA Founder Richard Mack

The CSPOA was founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack—a longtime militia movement figure and founding board member of the insurrectionist paramilitary group, the Oath Keepers. Six Oath Keepers leaders were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their part in the January 6th insurrection. According to the Department of Justice, the “manners and means” used by defendants convicted in two separate Oath Keepers trials included “using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”

While Mack told Reuters that he left the Oath Keepers’ board around 2016 because the group became too militant, he and other CSPOA leaders maintained a relationship with the insurrectionist group. In fact, on January 5, 2021, CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman had Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on his radio program the day before the insurrection to encourage others to join his insurrectionary plans. Bushman continues to defend Rhodes on his program.

Mack has also made clear that he would support using private militias against government officials, writing, “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.”

Before returning to efforts to infiltrate law enforcement, in 2021, Mack toured the country with an antisemitic conspiracy theorist spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

While Mack spends considerable time stressing his devotion to Constitutional rights, his record and that of other law officers affiliated with CSPOA has too often been wanting in this regard.

Richard Mack’s history in law enforcement is also worthy of consideration. In 1985, while serving in the Provo, Utah, police department, Mack’s apparent misconduct landed a man on death row and in prison for nearly 30 years. As described in a 116-page federal court ruling, during the investigation into a high-profile murder case, Mack arranged to pay the rent, heat, and phone bills of two key witnesses and give them cash – totaling some $4,000 across several months. As a result, a Fourth District Court Judge overturned the conviction and death sentence of the man based on the misconduct of Mack, other officers, and the prosecutor. One witness also “testified that Officer Mack threatened her and [her husband] with arrest, deportation, and loss of their son, and that this occurred three times.” In addition, witnesses testified that they were coached to lie about having received gifts and about the defendant planning to rape the murder victim. The judge wrote, “Officer Mack’s inconsistent statements—all aimed at painting the police and his own conduct in a more favorable light— seriously undermined his credibility.”

CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman

When Richard Mack took a $20,000-a-month position on the board of a group spreading COVID misinformation, Sam Bushman was promoted to CEO of CSPOA. Sam Bushman never served in law enforcement. He has, however, been involved with promoting troubling white nationalist organizations, including groups advocating secession and killing law enforcement.

Already facing growing pressure for ties to white nationalists, last October, Bushman appeared on the podcast of a Hitler-loving white nationalist. On that program, Bushman confessed that he’d been a longtime reader of and remains a supporter of the white nationalist publications Spotlight and American Free Press.

CSPOA CEO Sam Bushman has used his radio show to promote and build a relationship with the white nationalist, antisemitic, and secessionist League of the South. In 1990, League of the South Chief of Statt Michael Tubbs pleaded guilty to stealing M-16 rifles from Fort Bragg in North Carolina, serving four years in prison. In 2017, Tubbs was named commander of the League of the South’s paramilitary branch, the Southern Defense Force.

Identity Dixie leader Jim O’Brien, aka Padraig Martin, a guest on Bushman’s radio show, League of the South ally, and co-editor of a pro-secessionist book promoted by Bushman, wrote this troubling passage about murdering law enforcement:

“The lesson of the egregious Stewart Rhodes prison sentence – as well as every other J6 Protester languishing in a prison, – is the following: if you are going to start a revolution of any kind, even if your purpose had legal or Constitutional merit, you better not stop at the gates. You better go all in. Do not leave a single police officer, Congressman, judge, or any other functionary of government alive…[T]he next time you take part in a rightwing protest be prepared to kill them all. Half measures are no longer an option.”

Bushman also recently announced on his radio show that he is a member of fugitive paramilitary figure Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights network. While the group is most well-known for threatening hospitals and public health officials, one People’s Rights network member is serving an 18-year sentence for a northern Idaho shootout with law enforcement. Another is awaiting trial in Nevada for threatening law enforcement.

CSPOA Advisory Board

Mack and Bushman aren’t the only CSPOA figures of concern. The group’s advisory board includes a former member of a white nationalist secessionist group and a sheriff involved in an attempt to seize voting machines.

Michael Peroutka was a national board member of the white nationalist secessionist group, the League of the South, a group that seeks a whites-only ethnostate in the U.S. South, promotes vicious antisemitism, and has forged alliances with neo-Nazis. Peroutka has denounced the Union’s victory in what he calls the “War Between the States.” Peroutka even led the League of the South convention in singing what he called the “national anthem” – “Dixie.” While Peroutka later backed away when his ties were exposed, he stated, “I don’t have any problem with the organization.”

Peroutka currently leads the Institute on the Constitution (IOTC). This group promotes anti-Muslim bigotry and state nullification. It has distributed material stating that “We see no reason why men should not discriminate on grounds of religion, race, or nationality if they wish.” Peroutka even pledged to use the Institute on the Constitution to aid the League of the South and advance the cause of imposing biblical law.

CSPOA Advisory Board member Barry County, Michigan, Sheriff Dar Leaf was an unindicted co-conspirator in a Michigan voting machine tampering case. Emails obtained by Bridge Michigan show that Sheriff Leaf tried to enlist fellow “constitutional sheriffs” to seize Dominion voting machines at the heart of the election conspiracy promoted by then-President Donald Trump.

In May 2020, Sheriff Leaf shared the stage with members of the Michigan Liberty Militia, including one of the men arrested in the plot to kidnap the governor.

Other CSPOA-Affiliated Sheriffs

CSPOA ranks are filled with members who have tarnished the image of law enforcement and harmed communities. Multiple CSPOA-affiliated law officers have engaged in intimidation and illegal and potentially illegal practices.

  • Former Edwards County (TX) Sheriff Pam Elliot, a CSPOA member featured on the cover of Mack’s book, Are You a David?, and her department engaged in activity that intimidated political opponents and voters, including Edwards County deputies appearing at polling stations. Election attorney Buck Wood described the latter as “pure and simple intimidation.”
  • In 2022 Real County (TX) Sheriff Nathan Johnson, who attended a Texas CSPOA training, was put under criminal investigation for repeatedly seizing money from undocumented immigrants, even if they were not charged with a state crime – actions to which he admitted.
  • Culpepper County, Virginia, Sheriff Scott Jenkins, a featured speaker at CSPOA’s 2020 conference, was indicted in June on a slew of corruption charges related to a scheme that offered police badges and gun permits in exchange for payments or political contributions.
  • CSPOA member Frederick County, Maryland Sheriff Charles “Chuck” Austin Jenkins was indicted in April by a federal grand jury for breaking federal gun laws. Jenkins is alleged to have defrauded the United States by interfering with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by making false statements and representations in paperwork submitted to the ATF to obtain machine guns that were used by campaign supporter Robert Justin Krop’s firearms business, The Machine Gun Nest.
  • Riverside County, California Sheriff Chad Bianco, is not only a prominent CSPOA member, he’s also been a member of the insurrectionist group, the Oath Keepers.
  • Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff who received a 2012 CSPOA award, was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 after refusing to end his department’s racial profiling practices. As of 2015, taxpayers had paid $8.2 million for the case.
  • In 2019, CSPOA presented former Republic, Washington Police Chief Loren Culp with its “Police Chief of the Decade” award. On April 3, 2024, the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs issued Loren Culp a “notice of…proposed expulsion” from the Association because of “numerous offensive public social media posts and comments” deemed to be “unbecoming of a WASPC member.”

We could go on, but I think you get the idea. At a time when law enforcement and community relations are already strained, efforts of a far-right group to infiltrate law enforcement pose a grave and growing threat to both officers and department credibility. I think we can all agree that groups like CSPOA have no place in law enforcement. We urge you to speak out to make it clear that CSPOA has no place in American law enforcement. As this issue is time-sensitive, we would appreciate a rapid response. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Devin Burghart
Executive Director



Devin Burghart

Author Devin Burghart

is vice president of IREHR. He coordinates our Seattle office, directs our research efforts, and manages our online communications. He has researched, written, and organized on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism since 1992, and is internationally recognized for this effort. Devin is frequently quoted as an expert by print, broadcast, and online media outlets. In 2007, he was awarded a Petra Foundation fellowship. more...

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