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After MN GOP Embraces Oath Keepers, DFL Calls on GOP to Remove Extremists from Party
DFL call comes after MN GOP State Senator was caught raising funds for January 6th insurrectionists charged with assaulting a police officer
ST PAUL – The DFL Party is demanding the Minnesota GOP take strong action to combat extremism in their ranks after the head of the Beltrami County Republican Party endorsed joining the Oath Keepers (a violent, far-right, anti-government militia) and endorsed the idea of a member of the Oath Keepers running political office, according to a report from ProPublica.
Oath Keeper membership records obtained by ProPublica reveal that Beltrami County resident Steven K. Booth, a Republican County Commissioner, former MN GOP-endorsed state senate candidate, and current GOP activist, is a member of the extremist group.
ProPublica asked Rich Siegert, the Beltrami County Republican Party Chair, about Booth’s affiliation with the extremist group. According to their report:
Asked about the possibility of Booth running for office again, local GOP chair Rich Siegert started talking through openings Booth could aim for. Booth’s Oath Keepers affiliation did not give Siegert pause. “When tyranny comes, that’s when you stop and say you’ve got to do something about it,” said Siegert, who heads the party in northern Minnesota’s Beltrami County. “To go out and get violent and kill people like they did in the early days, I’m not really in favor of that. How do you get the attention of liberals and get them to listen? Firing guns, I don’t know, it’s what they do in some countries. Define what ‘radical’ is.”
Booth’s seeming endorsement of joining the violent militia and its members running for political office is just the latest example of dangerous extremism within the Minnesota Republican Party. Other examples from within the past two years alone include:
- Republican State Senator Mark Korran raising money for men charged with storming the U.S. Capitol and assaulting police with a deadly weapon.
- The Minnesota Republican Party refusing to disavow half a dozen QAnon-affiliated candidates despite the FBI’s warning that QAnon is a potential source of domestic terrorism.
- A local GOP leader threatening judges who ruled against challenges to election results and mask mandates, saying, “we are going to fight, we are going to go down, there’s going to be casualties” during a January 6th rally at the Minnesota Capitol.
- Numerous Minnesota GOP officials endorsing the Big Lie, which fueled the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol.
- Republican State Senator Roger Chamberlain using social media to promote a violent, bigoted fascist manifesto and defend the Proud Boys, another group of violent, far-right extremists whose members have been charged with assaulting the U.S. Capitol.
- Republican State Representative Matt Grossell joining a group of armed vigilantes patrolling the streets of Bemidji to violently repel fictional “buses of ANTIFA” he believed were coming to the area.
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“Today, I am calling on Minnesota Republican Party Chairman David Hann to begin proceedings to remove Rich Siegert from his leadership position. Furthermore, I am calling on Hann to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to combat extremism within the Minnesota Republican Party, encompassing endorsed candidates, sitting elected officials, and local leaders.
“For far too long, the Republican Party of Minnesota has welcomed dangerous political extremists into their midst. The January 6th assault on the United States Capitol should have been a wake-up call about the logical endpoint of violent, extremist rhetoric, yet Minnesota Republican officials continue to turn a blind eye to extremism at best and foster it at worst.
“Hann himself is complicit in this growing extremism. During his campaign for Chairman of the Republican Party, he tacitly endorsed the Big Lie by pledging to investigate the source code of Minnesota’s voting machines. If Hann does not take a serious stand against extremism within the Party he leads, he will bear responsibility for any political violence that ensues.”
Background on the Oath Keepers:
The Oath Keepers are a far-right militia movement described by the FBI as a “paramilitary organization” and a “large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
Their members have been charged with plotting to attack the United States Capitol on January 6th. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented numerous criminal activities that both the organization and its members engaged in, including joining the Bundy’s during their armed confrontation with the federal government.