This may be Jon Ritzheimer’s craziest stunt yet.
The organizer of a protest and “Draw Mohammad” cartoon contest earlier this year outside a Phoenix mosque threatened in an open letter posted online Monday to arrest a Democratic senator over her support for the Iranian nuclear deal.
The open letter did not appear publicly on Ritzheimer’s Facebook page, but his supporters posted it on their profiles. In the letter, Ritzheimer, a former U.S. Marine, identified himself as a member of two loosely-organized militia groups — the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters — and announced that he and “a growing number of patriots” planned to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“She will be arrested for treason under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution,” the open letter read. “We have chosen her as our first target due to our strong ties with the Michigan State Militia and their lax gun laws that will allow us to operate in a manner necessary for an operation like this. After we successfully detain her we will continue to move across the country and arrest everyone involved with the Iran Nuke Deal. Even the President who brokered this deal.”
A Stabenow aide declined to comment on the letter to Roll Call. U.S. Capitol Police told the publication that law enforcement was monitoring the situation, however.
“The US Capitol Police are aware and are working with local law enforcement in Michigan on the matter,” Capt. Kimberly Schneider told Roll Call in an email.
Ritzheimer apparently is operating without the support of the Oath Keepers, which is made up of current and former military and law enforcement officers who pledge to defend the Constitution. A spokesperson for the group told The Washington Times that the Oath Keepers did not endorse his plan and was working to boot him from the organization.
“He has now been suspended for his actions, and we are in the process of following our bylaws to kick him out entirely,” Oath Keepers media director Jason Van Tatenhove told the publication. “We, in NO WAY condone his actions, and are in the process of putting out statements to our membership to inform them of such.”
Since the open letter appeared on Facebook, it’s worth noting that Ritzheimer has said he’s been the victim of Facebook hoaxes before.
Following his Phoenix protest, which he told TPM he organized in solidarity with anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller after her “Draw Mohammed” event in Garland, Texas was attacked by two gunmen, a GoFundMe page appeared with the goal of raising $10 million to either protect Ritzheimer’s family or allow him to challenge Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Around that time, Ritzheimer told a local TV station that he thought he needed to go into hiding.
Ritzheimer later made a reference to a “fake” GoFundMe campaign in a video he posted to Facebook, adding that “hackers have ruined my life.”
“They’ve made fake Facebook accounts, fake GoFundMe accounts, fake — just all kinds of stuff,” he said in the video. “They’ve exposed my social. They’ve exposed everything about me, credit cards — you name it. They’re playing dirty.”
The last we heard from him, Ritzheimer was selling his motorcycle on Craigslist to get money for more gun purchases.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.