A seven-term New Jersey lawmaker lavished praise on an official from the Oath Keepers at a fundraiser for the lobbying arm of that extremist militia group this week, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
At a breakfast last Saturday hosted by the American Bedrock Foundation, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) called Edward Durfee, regional coordinator for the New Jersey Oath Keepers and co-founder of the Bedrock Foundation, an “unsung hero.”
The Oath Keepers are considered “militia extremists” who are a “domestic terrorist threat” by New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security. The group’s members, a loose coalition of current and former law enforcement and military officials who pledge to defend the Constitution against government overreach, were involved in the armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year.
While Garrett’s campaign manager, Sarah Neibart, told Bloomberg that the congressman has “no affiliation—personal or political—with any of the organizations mentioned,” the House Freedom Caucus member struck a much friendlier tone at the breakfast event.
“What I need from you is your blood, sweat and tears,” Garrett told the crowd, according to Bloomberg. “We need the grass roots to come on out.”
Garrett serves as chair of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, but his support among the Wall Street institutions who rely on his committee to oversee U.S. capital markets collapsed last year after his negative comments about gay lawmakers were made public. According to Bloomberg, Garrett refused to pay his party dues because he was upset that Republicans were recruiting and backing gay candidates.
Without the support of banks and hedge funds, Garrett has turned to individual donors to back his campaign. Bloomberg reported that Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway ha donated over $5,000 to Garrett this year.