A leaked Oath Keepers membership list contains more than 38,000 names, including those of elected officials, police chiefs, and members of the military, according to a report published Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.
The far-right extremist organization rose to prominence after Jan. 6, 2021, for playing a key role in planning the insurrection at the Capitol. Many members have been arrested for taking part in the riot, with some — including the group's founder — facing charges of seditious conspiracy.
The membership list, which was first published last year by the journalism collective Distributed Denial of Secrets, demonstrates that the radical anti-government group is far from fringe, and in fact holds close ties to mainstream power.
According to the ADL, 81 of the named individuals currently serve as elected officials or are running for office. Most hold local government positions, though some are state senators and representatives.
“This number is deeply concerning,” the report states. “When anti-government extremists hold elected office, it creates a dangerous opportunity for them to use their power to advance their ideology in ways that can dramatically affect their constituents and undermine democracy.”
Among the members, 373 currently work in law enforcement, according to the report, including 10 police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. More than 1,000 others previously worked in law enforcement.
Some identified themselves as officers in online chats, which were published in the data leak, with some saying they were attempting to recruit work colleagues to the Oath Keepers. Some offered up their professional skills, including firearms training, to aid the cause.
Current military members made up 117 of the names on the list, with more working as contractors or serving in the reserves. According to the ADL's analysis, an estimated "one in ten of the individuals in the database served in the military in some prior capacity."
Online comments made by Oath Keepers who currently or previously served in the military depict how far they would go for the organization. Some hinted at a willingness to commit violence, and others said they were spreading the Oath Keepers' message to fellow military members in order to recruit them.
The membership list also includes numerous emergency responders, including firefighters and paramedics, as well teachers, doctors, attorneys, religious leaders, civil engineers, and more. Some "reported holding top secret clearances or had jobs that gave them access to critical infrastructure such as nuclear facilities."
"Many of these individuals have roles that make them trusted members of the community who are theoretically in positions to influence people or access sensitive materials or sites," the report states.
A previous analysis of the data by BuzzFeed News found that Oath Keepers members included active New York police officers, the head of Utah's Department of Corrections, a California sheriff, and numerous elected officials. Several police officers and political candidates who inquired about membership did so after the Capitol insurrection.
Appearing on the membership list is not definitive proof that the named individuals were ever active Oath Keepers members, the ADL report notes, acknowledging that some "may have initially joined because they were sold a watered-down version of the group."
"That said, the range of individuals represented in the Oath Keepers leak shows the extent to which this extremist ideology has gained acceptance," the ADL report states. "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."
Some of the individuals who appeared on the list told the Associated Press they were no longer affiliated with the group, while others said they had never been deeply involved. At least one denied ever paying a membership fee, claiming a friend had signed him up for the mailing list.
South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen said he joined in 2014, but never went to any meetings or renewed his membership. Even so, he would not renounce the group, telling the AP he doesn't know enough about them.
“Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group,” he said. “I can’t speak to them now.”