The Arizona Republic finally got around to doing an investigative reporting piece on the sovereign citizen movement over the weekend, and it fell woefully short. This lengthy report failed to mention those who are members and sympathizers in Arizona, as has been reported here over the years. Sovereign citizens challenge authority of law:
The Republic contacted more than a dozen people who had identified themselves as sovereign in Phoenix and other cities across the state, including people who claimed affiliation with sovereign groups called the “Republic for the united States of America” and the “Republic for Arizona.” Some had served in the military. Others mentioned college degrees.
Only one agreed to speak in person and on the record.
Rockney Willard Martineau was in a Maricopa County jail.
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Over the course of 2013, The Republic polled sheriff’s and recorder’s offices across Arizona about their interactions with sovereign citizens. The results showed a mixed picture of the belief’s prominence in the state.
Some law-enforcement officials said they had not seen much activity in several years, while others said sovereigns in their jurisdictions are well-known. Recorders in several counties rarely see a filing, while others report three to 10 a week, although some of those arrive from other states.
The FBI is keeping a close watch.
Seriously? Perhaps the problem is how this reporter defined “sovereign citizen,” disregarding the numerous far-right anti-government organizations to which these extremists belong. If The Republic polled sheriff’s offices, how is it possible that they missed these guys?
I previously posted about Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio’s anti-government extremism:
Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio is a favorite of far-right extremist groups like former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack’s conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers, made up of former and current law enforcement officers and military personnel who believe it is their duty to defy what they deem to be unconstitutional orders. These anti-government extremists are a law unto themselves.
Hence this bit of anti-government extremism from Crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio on Wednesday. Joe Arpaio Says He May Not Enforce New Gun Laws (AUDIO).
Not to be outdone for media attention, “Joe, Jr.,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, penned a letter to President Obama last week saying that he too would not enforce any federal laws that he deems to be unconstitutional orders. Has anyone investigated his connections to far-right extremist groups like Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers?
Talking Points Memo reports Arizona Sheriff Tells Obama He Won’t Enforce Federal Gun Laws:
“Mr. President, if you attempt to carry through with your proposal, it will hinder the ability of good citizens to defend and protect themselves and others against those who wish to cause them harm through the use of deadly force,” Babeu, the sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., wrote. “Your actions would turn many good citizens, who wish to maintain their God given Constitutional Rights to bear arms, into criminals. I am writing you this letter today to inform you that any “law” or regulation created by an executive order of your office which is contrary to what the Constitution of the United States of America says, shall be deemed as unlawful and shall not be carried out by myself or my office.”
And how can The Republic purportedly do an investigative journalism report without ever mentioning Arizona’s most notorious far-right anti-government icon, former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, and his conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and the Oath Keepers, made up of former and current law enforcement officers and military personnel who believe it is their duty to defy what they deem to be unconstitutional orders. Here is a profile of Mack from the Southern Poverty Law Center. ‘Army’ of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority.
Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack traveled to Nevada this weekend to join rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management . In an interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, Sheriff Richard Mack Compared Armed Nevada Ranch Protesters To Rosa Parks. (I find that deeply insulting).
This radical extremist has frequently testified at the invitation of Tea-Publicans at the Arizona Legislature in favor of Tenth Amendment Center model legislation for nullification of federal gun laws, and for his far-right “constitutional sheriffs” bill.
In 2012, wingnut Rep. David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista), who has now been promoted to House Majority Leader, sponsored HB 2434 which would have required employees of federal agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.” HB 2434 was actually approved by the Arizona legislature. It took a veto by Governor Jan Brewer to restore sanity.
The sponsor of this year’s version of the “constitutional sheriffs” bill, SB 1290 (.pdf). was the “Birther Queen,” Rep. Judy Burges (R-Sun City West.)
Then there is “Tenther” Sen. Kelli Ward (R- Lake Havasu City) and her model bills from the Tenth Amendment Center (which expressly declares its mission is the nullification of federal laws):
Sen. Ward told the Capitol Times the latest iteration of her 2nd Amendment Protection Act, modeled after legislation promoted by the constitutional-rights organization the Tenth Amendment Center and gun-rights advocates, remains similar in its goal to prevent Arizona from actively working to enforce certain federal gun laws.
SB 1112 would have banned the enforcement of federal laws limiting semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
This Republic reporter could find only one “sovereign citizen” sitting in a jail cell? Geezus, take a walk over to 1700 W. Washington Street and you will find a building filled with them.
How is it possible this Republic reporter missed these “sovereign citizens”? Militias, activists celebrate halt of cattle roundup:
Several Arizona lawmakers, as well as activists and militia members, flocked to this rural outpost near Mesquite, within sight of the Arizona Strip’s stubby hills.
“The Bureau of Land Management is overreaching, and Arizona is (also) in the crosshairs,” Arizona State Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, said in explaining her attendance Monday. Western states are under siege by federal land regulations, she said, and she wanted the Bundys and Nevadans to know they aren’t alone.
“I stand with them,” she said.
State Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, stood on the platform Monday with Burges and other Bundy supporters, though neither spoke.
“I took an oath (upon election),” Livingston said afterward. “That oath is to protect the people. The government’s out of control, and the federal government is not protecting the people.”
He said the federal government should cede Western lands to the states so they can sell them to help fund education and state programs.
“This is not over,” he said. “On Saturday we won a battle. This could be a lifelong war.”
County supervisors from Apache and Greenlee counties also came to show their support on Monday, and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; state Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City; Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Apache Junction; and Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, visited the ranch over the weekend.
Mr. Livingston is an idiot. His oath of office is to defend the Constitution, not to engage in sedition and insurrection against the U.S. government. His oath of office is found at A.R.S.§38-231(E):
State of Arizona, County of ______________
I, (type or print name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of name of office according to the best of my ability, so help me God (or so I do affirm).
The editorial board of The Arizona Republic editorializes today, Arizona lawmakers pointlessly charge Bunkerville Hill:
If Cliven Bundy had not existed, would the Arizona Legislature have to invent him?
It is worth contemplating. Once our lawmakers come back from Bunkerville Hill, anyway.
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[Bundy] also has become the patron saint of a substantial portion of the Arizona Legislature. A great many conservative members of the Legislature have long shown an obsession with the idea of resisting the federal behemoth. Now, we know they see it as Job One.
It ranks higher than tedious stuff like funding K-12 education or protecting children, none of which they can bother with because West Washington Street now is all about Bundy, 24/7.
Their true priorities are made clear. The top priority at the capitol this entire session has not been about doing the state’s business, but about striking utterly meaningless blows at the feds. Like trying to pass pointless legislation forbidding state workers from interacting with federal employees. Or as in past sessions, attempting to wrest federal forest land to state control.
So many Arizona lawmakers have run off to Bunkerville or gotten their heads full of Bundy-worship that the business of Arizona government has been impeded. On Tuesday, lawmakers were requesting time for floor speeches, then using that time not to explain their votes on any bills, but to extoll Bundy-ism.
Let’s be clear about old Cliven: He refused to pay grazing fees for his use of federal land for his cattle operation — the fees every rancher in Arizona with a federal lease dutifully pays. That means he broke the law. He has lost every court case on the issue.
His argument that the land is state-owned, not federally owned, is unsupportable and convenient. Bundy’s position has no legal legs under it.
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The fact that he has been rendered a modern-day saint and is being celebrated by so many Arizona lawmakers that their idol-worshiping has interfered with the business of the state is just obscene.
You had your temper tantrum, folks. You charged up Bunkerville Hill. Great. Now get back to work.
Sorry, editors, but no. You do not get to so breezily dismiss sedition and insurrection against the U.S. government as a mere “temper tantrum.” This is seriously effed up crazy shit. You should be demanding that these Arizona elected officials resign their offices for violating their oath of office. Period. End of discussion.
As I have said many times before, it is not enough for Arizona’s elite political media to simply report on crazy bills. They have an obligation to report on the far-right extremists groups who are behind these bills and on our legislators’ relationships to these far-right extremist groups. The voters have a right to know whether our legislators are members or supporters of far-right extremist groups.
The dismissive attitude of news organizations like The Arizona Republic has allowed these radical extremist groups to flourish in Arizona, to the point of being a majority caucus in the Arizona Legislature. This is an epic failure of the media.