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LaPorte County Commissioner says he’s not an Oath Keeper despite appearing on leaked membership list

Haney says the Oath Keeper patch in this image, posted on Instagram in May 2020, is not a logo for the group but is instead just the phrase “oath keeper” and represents his duty to defend rights in the U.S. Constitution.
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Haney says the Oath Keeper patch in this image, posted on Instagram in May 2020, is not a logo for the group but is instead just the phrase “oath keeper” and represents his duty to defend rights in the U.S. Constitution.

LaPorte County Commissioner Joe Haney says he’s not an Oath Keeper despite appearing on a leaked list of purported members released last week by the Anti-Defamation League.

The Oath Keepers are a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The report says 696 Hoosiers are on the leaked list — and 9 work in law enforcement, 3 are in the military, 5 are first responders and 6 are elected officials.

Appearing in the database doesn't prove that someone was or is still an active member of the Oath Keepers or shares its ideology. And in a Facebook post, Haney says he has nothing to apologize for and that painting him as an Oath Keeper is part of “today’s cancel culture society.”

He says his name only appears on the leaked list because he wrote an article about the group in 2013 and interviewed their communications director. In addition, he says he’s never been to any of their events, rallies, protests, provided financial support or owned any paraphernalia.

He also called the release of the ADL report politically motivated, as the leaked data was obtained last year by nonprofit whistleblower site DDOSSecrets.

A May 2020 Instagram post shows Haney wearing a tactical vest with a patch that says Oath Keeper on it, but Haney says the patch is not a logo for the group and instead is just the phrase “oath keeper” and represents his duty to defend rights in the U.S. Constitution.

Elkhart County Commissioner Brad Rogers also appeared on the leaked list, but says he left the group eight years ago.

The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers — including Rhodes — have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weekslong plot to keep then-President Donald Trump in power. Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers say that they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.