Press Release

New from ADL: Leaked Oath Keepers’ Membership List Reveals Hundreds of Current & Former Law Enforcement Officers, Members of Military, and Elected Officials

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ADL also unveils interactive map displaying number of Oath Keepers members by state and position held

New York, NY, September 7, 2022 … New analysis today from ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) Center on Extremism finds that the leaked membership list for the Oath Keepers, a right-wing anti-government extremist group, includes hundreds of elected officials, law enforcement officers, members of the military and first responders.

In September 2021, the non-profit journalist collective Distributed Denial of Secrets released the membership database for the Oath Keepers organization. The membership data, which includes more than 38,000 names, provides unique insight into the people who signed up for the organization over the years, and helps illuminate the extent to which the group’s anti-government ideology has permeated mainstream society.

ADL’s analysis uses the leaked data to highlight the number of individuals who signed up for or supported the Oath Keepers in key areas:  elected office, law enforcement, the military and emergency services – as well as in the general population.

“The Oath Keepers are a virulently anti-government, violent extremist group, whose members have been arrested in connection with a wide range of criminal activities, including seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and including various firearms violations, conspiracy to impede federal workers, possession of explosives and threatening public officials,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “To know that members of this group have permeated key aspects of civil society should serve as a wake-up call to people of all political persuasions that extremists hell-bent on destroying our democratic norms are making in-roads across the country.”

ADL today also unveiled an interactive map, detailing the number of Oath Keepers from the membership database found in each state, broken down by category (law enforcement, military, elected official, first responder, etc.).

Key Findings

  • As of August 8, the Center on Extremism has identified 373 individuals we believe are currently serving in law enforcement agencies across the country. This number is far higher than any previously identified number of extremists within law enforcement; for comparison, an ADL report released in 2021 identified 76 cases – 73 of which were unique – in which extremists were found serving in law enforcement.
  • ADL identified individuals we believe are currently holding senior leadership positions within their respective agencies, including at least ten chiefs of police and eleven sheriffs. 
  • In addition to those actively serving in law enforcement, ADL identified more than 1,000 individuals who we believe previously served in law enforcement.
  • ADL’s Center on Extremism analysis identified 81 individuals across the country who are currently holding or running for public office in 2022. These individuals run the gamut from local office – mayors, town councilmembers, school board members – to state representatives and senators.
  • Prior to this year’s primary season, ADL confirmed 42 Oath Keepers-aligned individuals who were up for election for public office in 2022, consisting of 22 incumbents and 20 candidates.
    • As of August 8, 21 of these candidates have advanced to the general election either by winning their primary or having their primary cancelled. 13 of the candidates have lost their primary race. Even more concerning, four individuals have already won their general election.
  • ADL identified 117 individuals who we believe currently serve in the U.S. military, an additional 11 people who serve in the reserves, and 31 individuals who hold civilian positions or are military contractors.
  • In addition to those currently serving in the military, ADL estimates that one in ten of the individuals in the database previously served in the military in some capacity.

In addition, ADL identified 86 individuals we believe are active fire fighters – including several fire chiefs – as well as 19 active paramedics and 31 emergency technicians in the database. The Oath Keepers have used disaster relief to garner positive attention for their group, and these professionals have skills that can bolster these efforts. 

It should be noted, however, the Oath Keepers did not just draw supporters from the professions they explicitly targeted. Among the many professions held by list members are religious figures, teachers, civil engineers and government employees. Some individuals reported holding top secret clearances or had jobs that gave them access to critical infrastructure such as nuclear facilities.

Notable Examples

  • Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, a self-proclaimed member of the Oath Keepers who has remained a supporter despite the group’s alleged participation in the January 6 attack. In March 2021 – just two months after the insurrection – Rogers met with the Cottonwood Oath Keepers and praised the group for their “dedication to our Constitution and to our country.” 
  • An individual who self-identified as a member of the Army, wrote, “First and foremost I believe the oath i took when i enlisted in the Army should always be held as a high standard. The constitution supercedes all law enforcement and even the president. I can shoot a weapon and hit my target. I can help when the federal government tries to enact martial law upon us citizens” [all sic].
  • One individual who listed an address on an Air Force base described himself as a “Vocal advocate of instilling among junior officers and NCOs their allegiance to the Constitution and the American people, NOT the government, especially the President. We are apolitical with a charge to defend inalienable rights.”
  • Idaho State Representative Chad Christensen appears in the Oath Keepers database as having a “Liberty Tree” membership. His listing in the database is unsurprising given that he named himself as an Oath Keeper in his official legislative bio. Christensen lost his primary race in 2022. 
  • Lieutenant Philip Mercurio, who works for the city of Pittsburgh’s public safety department, described himself as a firearms instructor who would “spread the word to my students.” In the wake of the Oath Keepers data leak, the lieutenant was reassigned to an administrative assignment pending an investigation. 
  • A former member of the National Guard asked for Oath Keepers assistance, writing, “I would like YOUR support in preparing the next generation of National Guard leadership. I teach new recruits about the potential constitutional decisions that they may be forced to make as Guardsmen and would like copies of the constitution to give.” 
  • One doctor wrote: “Many of my patients are police officers, troopers, FBI agents, CIA and in the military. I have the ability to spread the world of this organization to my patients. I showed 2 troopers this week the web link.”
  • An educator and pastor based in White Oak, North Carolina, informed the group that his skills include, “Public speaking, membership drives, have current access and interaction with many current and retired servicemembers through church and my current work as quality control director for a assault weapons manufacturer” [sic].

Methodology Notes

While the open-source resources used by ADL to identify individuals typically provide accurate information, there are some limitations to this methodology, particularly in verifying names within the database that matched the names of law enforcement and military personnel.

ADL has worked extensively to verify the individuals in question, and common names in high-density population areas were excluded from the final count.

In addition, ADL is informing law enforcement agencies (with appropriate caveats) across the country that a person with a name matching one of their employees was found in the Oath Keepers database. Some agencies have been responsive, but others did not respond, or responded without confirmation.

Every elected official or 2022 candidate included in the final total has been fully verified, either by referring to public statements made by the individual in question or public reporting, or by comparing the information provided to the Oath Keepers with the official’s public filings, public records, or online posts containing phone numbers, email addresses, or physical addresses.

Finally, it is important to note once more that an individual’s inclusion in the Oath Keepers database is not proof that they were or are still an Oath Keeper, that they hold or held all or some Oath Keepers ideology or viewpoints, or that they ever actively participated in Oath Keepers activities. When reviewing this information, you should bear in mind the possibility that the individual misunderstood the nature of the Oath Keepers. Before taking any action based on this information, an individualized assessment of the individual must take place.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ADL takes no position in support of or opposition to candidates for political office.

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.