Revealed: far-right Oath Keepers stored up dues funds after Capitol assault

Revealed: far-right Oath Keepers stored up dues funds after Capitol assault

Oath Keepers members paid dues to the rightwing militia’s then vice-president for as much as virtually a 12 months after the January 6 assault on the US Capitol and months after the group and its founder, Stewart Rhodes, had been named in court docket filings as individuals within the assault, in response to publicly accessible transaction data on the cost platform Venmo.

Those that made funds to an Oath Keepers chief on Venmo embody an engineer whose employer supplies satellite tv for pc expertise to US authorities companies together with the Division of Protection (DoD) and the Division of Homeland Safety, a former Division of Homeland Safety worker whose tenure on the company overlapped along with his membership within the group, and a 2022 candidate for the Wyoming state senate.

Others related on Venmo to Rhodes or different organizational leaders embody a US navy recruiting officer.

The Guardian corroborated the identification of a few of the people making funds utilizing earlier hacks and leaks of Oath Keepers membership rolls, cost data and inner communications.

Venmo transactions had been public by default all through a lot of the service’s historical past. Megan Squire is deputy director for Knowledge Analytics and OSINT on the Southern Poverty Regulation Centre, and from 2017 she was one of many first to make use of Venmo transactions to know the inner construction of teams just like the Proud Boys.

Squire mentioned: “Venmo has had safety points since its inception. They’ve tried to repair them however solely after high-profile privateness breaches involving individuals like Joe Biden.”

The Oath Keepers transactions had been recorded on the profile of Jason Ottersberg, a Cheyenne, Wyoming, man who has been publicly recognized as a senior chief within the Oath Keepers.

Ottersberg’s title, e-mail tackle and a username – “seebeewyo” – had been all revealed in a leak of knowledge from the Oath Keepers web site in 2021. Ottersberg can also be named because the recipient on an Oath Keepers fundraising web page on the extremist-friendly fundraising web site Givesendgo.

Ottersberg’s present username on Venmo relies on his title, however a scrape of his account with the open-source intelligence software Venemy reveals that his unique consumer title was nationalokvp, indicating that he was presenting himself because the Oath Keepers nationwide vice-president.

The account’s transaction historical past reveals funds to and from Ottersberg together with explanations of the funds.

On 1 September 2021, an account carrying the title Michael Ray Williams made a cost to Jason Ottersberg on Venmo with the message “OK dues”. The account’s avatar is a promotional picture for Williams’s political marketing campaign bearing the slogans “Michael Ray Williams Wyoming Senate District 11” and “Giving the ability again to the individuals”.

In 2022, Michael Ray Williams ran for the Structure occasion for the Wyoming state senate, however misplaced handily to the Republican Larry S Hicks. On the Structure occasion’s web site and Ballotpedia’s candidate survey he expressed anti-abortion, pro-gun and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

Williams informed Buzzfeed Information in October 2021 that he was an Oath Keeper, however his cost of dues the month earlier than confirms his ongoing hyperlinks to the group on the time of his election marketing campaign.

The Guardian contacted Williams for remark through e-mail.

Others recognized by the Guardian maintain delicate positions in enterprise, the navy and authorities. A kind of recognized is a senior determine at House Programs Engineering at Echostar Company, headquartered in Englewood, Colorado.

Echostar can also be a significant authorities contractor in probably delicate areas. Final 12 months, the corporate introduced that its subsidiary Hughes gained a contract to create a non-public 5G community at a US navy base on Whidbey Island in Washington state, and the earlier 12 months trumpeted its success in bidding for satellite tv for pc companies to the Division of Protection’s (DoD’s) Superior Battle Administration System undertaking.

Traditionally, the DoD has been Hughes’s largest shopper, in response to US authorities spending data. Present Hughes contracts embody supplying satellite tv for pc companies to the Division of Homeland Safety. The individual recognized by the Guardian was concerned in creating satellite-related applied sciences, together with a undertaking to achieve restricted entry to Nasa satellites.

One other separate cost on 4 October 2021 got here from an account of somebody who was a DHS worker till June 2021, in response to their LinkedIn profile. They’d additionally just lately utilized for a job in a state division of corrections. A 3rd individual related to Stewart Rhodes on Venmo and recognized by the Guardian works in US navy recruitment in Texas.

Venmo data present that different accounts are related to Stewart Rhodes and Ottersberg. A Venmo “pal” connection doesn’t essentially point out that the events have exchanged cash, nevertheless it does point out that the events have recorded each other as phone contacts.

All through 2021, at the very least 9 individuals paid Ottersberg or had been charged by him on Venmo with feedback indicating that the cost was for dues, membership or a brand new membership.

In flip, Ottersberg appeared to funnel cash onwards to Rhodes. On 24, 25 and 26 October, funds from him all point out “Stewart”, together with one to an account within the title of Chad Rogers.

In January 2022, Rhodes was arrested in Plano, Texas, on the dwelling of Chad Rogers, a licensed safety officer. Later, throughout Rhodes’s trial, prosecutors detailed a ten January 2021 assembly between Rhodes and Jason Alpers, a person who Rhodes believed might move on his plea to Trump to retain the presidency by drive if needed. Alpers testified that Rogers was current on the assembly.

Squire, the SPLC deputy director, mentioned of the brand new Oath Keepers revelations that “it’s superb to me that they’re nonetheless utilizing open, non-privacy centered cost options”.

She added: “They don’t appear to have institutional information about earlier issues which have occurred to different teams, so that they repeat their errors.”

Regardless of Ottersberg’s apparently senior position within the Oath Keepers, and his entry to key gamers together with Rhodes, he has confronted no identified authorized penalties for his membership within the group. The final publicly seen cost from his Venmo account, nonetheless, is to his spouse, and is solely captioned “Lawyer”.

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