Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes spent thousands of dollars that belonged to the group on things like guns and food, disgruntled members told the Wall Street Journal.
Members of the Oath Keepers make up the largest group of defendants facing conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack case — they allegedly conspired to interrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s win — and now, tensions within the group have spilled out onto the pages of a lengthy Journal exposé.
Citing current and former Oath Keepers “and some of Mr. Rhodes’ family members,” the Journal reported that Rhodes spent Oath Keepers money on a home deposit, haircuts, liquor, food reserves and “personal riot gear.”
Citing specific bank records, the Journal listed Oath Keepers funds spent near the town of Rhodes’ former Montana residence: $12,424 in auto repairs, $83.50 at a pet store, $504 at a dentist, $886 at a bar, $9,974 at a gun store, and $229 at Alley Katz Nighties N Naughties, which on its Facebook page describes itself as “A small ADULT shop carrying a lil’ bit of everything. Lingerie, lotions n potions, DVD’s, Adult novelties, Gag Gifts….and more.”
The Oath Keepers also spent $275 on phone games and $256 at Fragrancenet.com, the Journal reported. The Oath Keepers’ former IT manager, Ed Wilson, told the Journal he left the organization after alerting the board to the spending issues and seeing no change.
“He used that thing as a piggy bank,” Wilson said of Rhodes.
Another former Oath Keeper, Billy Simmons, said he discovered upon calling the Oath Keepers’ credit card company that Rhodes had bought an AR-10 rifle for around $1,000, spreading the payment across three days to avoid crossing the card’s daily spending limit.
Former Oath Keepers director Scott Dunn said the group’s board set the $350 daily limit after Rhodes spent $800 on groceries — including more than a dozen steaks — and kettlebells at Walmart. Dunn said Rhodes separately suggested the pair go on Tinder dates and bill the Oath Keepers.
Yet another former board member, Rick Moon, recalled the directors confronting Rhodes about spending Oath Keepers’ money on gas purchases and a “train car load” of rice and beans.
“I created this organization, it’s mine, and I’ll do what I want to do with this,” Rhodes responded, Moon recalled to the Journal.
On top of all that, Dunn told the Journal, Rhodes failed to report a $10,000 donation to the Oath Keepers from Gary Heavin, the founder of Curves, the fitness franchise. Several board members said Rhodes spent supporters’ donations without reporting them.
Rhodes and an Oath Keepers attorney, Kellye SoRelle, had responses to nearly all of the expenses listed in the article: Heavin’s donation may not have been properly recorded, but it was used for Oath Keepers’ purposes, SoRelle said.
The gun purchases, she said, were partly “advertising.” The food, she said, was for Oath Keepers in Virginia. And Rhodes, she said, was merely trying to cheer up the recently divorced Dunn with the Tinder dates suggestion.
Rhodes told the Journal the allegations of misused funds were “petty, stupid and salacious,” and that they came from “disgruntled people that have a bone to pick.”
Rhodes hasn’t been charged in the Jan. 6 attack. There’s no evidence he went inside the Capitol and he has maintained his innocence. But prosecutors frequently refer to his (“Person 1”’s) communications with rioters in court documents.
What’s more, SoRelle told the Journal, federal agents served Rhodes a search warrant and seized his cell phone in April. The warrant, according to the report, sought evidence of “planning, preparation or travel” to breach the Capitol, including weapons procurement or “tactical training.”