Several elected officials in New York are among thousands of names appearing on leaked membership lists for the far-right extremist militia group, the Oath Keepers, according to a report released Wednesday, Sept. 7.
The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism examined more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership rolls and identified more than 470 people who currently work in law enforcement or serve in the military.
It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August 2022.
The names were pulled from a cache of data leaked in September 2021 by the transparency collective, Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets), claiming to show chat records and membership information from the group dating back to June 2020.
In New York, the names of five elected officials appeared on the membership lists, according to the ADL.
The group also reported that 45 law enforcement officers from New York were found to be members of the Oath Keepers, more than any other state.
No military members from New York were found on the member list, according to the report.
Among the elected officials from New York, one town justice reportedly wrote, “I am currently traveling our nation… educating people on the constitution and our founding fathers idea of gov. We meet alot [sic] of vets and police who feel the way we do. I’ll pass the word.”
A corrections officer in New York reportedly wrote, “As I am not sure what specific areas you are looking for, I am not sue [sic] how to answer. However, I have firearms training, first responder, CPR/AED, and the usual training g [sic] associated with being a Corrections Officer.
As part of its report, the ADL stressed that a person’s inclusion in the Oath Keepers database is not proof that they were or are still a member, or that they share all or even some of the group’s ideology or viewpoints.
Founded in 2009, the Oath Keepers are described by the ADL as “heavily armed extremists with a conspiratorial and anti-government mindset looking for potential showdowns with the government.”
The group differentiates itself from other militia groups by explicitly focusing recruitment efforts on current and former members of the military, law enforcement, and emergency services personnel, the ADL said.
At least 26 Oath Keepers have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Of those, twelve have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role that day.
The ADL described the report's findings as “deeply concerning,” saying that anti-government extremists holding elected office creates a “dangerous opportunity for them to use their power to advance their ideology in ways that can dramatically affects their constituents and undermine democracy.”
“Their presence within these institutions can inhibit the proper functioning of government, negatively impacting their constituents,” the ADL said.
Most of the people included on Oath Keepers membership rolls who hold public office are at the local level, including on town councils, in sheriff’s offices, on school boards, and in mayoral offices, according to the report.
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