Some 3,300 Texans were members of the Oath Keepers, including cops, military and elected officials

Membership rolls for the extremist group tied to the Jan. 6 insurrection include eight elected officials and 33 members of law enforcement from Texas.

click to enlarge A mob of pro-Trump rioters attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to overturn a legitimate presidential election. - Shutterstock
A mob of pro-Trump rioters attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to overturn a legitimate presidential election.
Texas had more people on the membership rolls of the Oath Keepers — the far-right extremist group that played a key role in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection — than any other state, according to a study released this week. 

More than 3,300 Texans have at some point been members of the Oath Keepers, the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism reported Tuesday after parsing through 38,000 names in the anti-government militia's membership data, which was leaked last fall.

Among those Texans are eight elected officials, 33 members of law enforcement, 10 members of the military and seven first responders, according to the ADL's research. The Lone Star State not only had largest number of residents who joined the group, it also had the largest total of individuals among those four professions.

The ADL built its report using internal Oath Keepers documents leaked last October by the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets.

Members of the Oath Keepers, which entered the national spotlight after the Capitol insurrection, claim that a far-reaching conspiracy undermined the U.S. government and seeks to oppress patriotic Americans. The group targeted military members, police personnel and first responders with its recruitment efforts.

At least 26 Oath Keepers have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to ADL's research. Twelve of those, including founder Stewart Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the sacking of the Capitol. Rhodes was arrested early this year in Granbury, Texas.

At least six Texas police officials who have at some point been affiliated with the Oath Keepers remain in their leadership positions even after the Jan. 6 attack, according to a Texas Tribune review of the militia's membership data.

Howe Police Department Chief Carl Hudman, Tom Bean Police Department Chief Timothy Green, Idalou Police Department Chief Eric Williams, Amarillo ISD Police Department Chief Paul Bourquin, Nueces County Sheriff John Chris Hooper and Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde continue to oversee their respective departments, the nonprofit news agency reports.

Other Texans identified in the Oath Keepers' membership logs include Ellis County Commissioner Paul D. Perry, Galveston County Commissioner Joseph Thomas Giusti, Collin County Constable Joe Wright and Faulkey Gully Municipal Utility District board member Mark H. Syzman, the Tribune also reports. 

The ADL's report specifically identifies Collin County's Wright as having signed up for membership in the Oath Keepers before he took office. He still serves as a county constable.

When the Oath Keepers' membership rolls were first leaked last fall, Wright told USA Today he was largely unfamiliar with the group when he joined.

The ADL also identified 373 law enforcement officials nationwide that at one point held Oath Keepers memberships. In written correspondence with the militia, some offered to use their training to help further its agenda or pledged to recruit from law-enforcement ranks, according to the report.

In written communication cited in the report, a member of the Texas Panhandle's Idalou Police Department told the Oath Keepers he was “assisting and encouraging fellow officersw [sic] to keep their oath via presentations information."

The report doesn't identify the Idalou cop by name or rank. However, department chief Williams, one of the people identified by the Texas Tribune, told PBS Newshour he left the Oath Keepers more than 10 years ago. He also denounced the Jan. 6 attack.

Even so, the ADL report argues that the Oath Keepers' far-right agenda has been clear from the group's 2009 inception.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report notes.

The ADL issued its report roughly a week after Oath Keepers general counsel Kellye SoRelle was arrested in the town of Junction, an hour and a half northeast of San Antonio. The U.S. Department of Justice charged her with felony obstruction of justice, alleging she tampered with documents to impede its Jan. 6 investigation.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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