Two rural Nevada counties have joined “constitutional sheriff” Richard Mack’s Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. The CSPOA urges local sheriffs to resist “tyranny” by state and federal governments, which in the group’s reckoning includes regulation of federal lands, gun control, and pandemic-related public health rules like mask mandates. Mack and his supporters hope that the actions by public officials in Nevada’s Lander and Elko counties signal the start of a new wave of public support—and taxpayer funding—for the CSPOA.
Right Wing Watch reported on Mack earlier this year:
An organizer of the armed standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and federal officials in 2014, Mack told Fox News at the time that Bundy supporters were considering a strategy of putting women in the front lines because that would have made for more effective messaging if officers started shooting. “I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die,” he said. “I would’ve gone next, I would have been the next one to be killed. I’m not afraid to die here. I’m willing to die here.”
Mack has been associated with the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government militia group under fire for its role in mobilizing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In a 2017 Politico profile of the “constitutional sheriffs” movement, law professor Richard Tsai reported that the CSPOA claimed 4,500 members, including more than 200 sheriffs, figures Tsai wrote “may understate how far its influence extends, and how fully it pervades certain regions of the country.” Mack is a former Arizona sheriff and his movement has roots in the U.S. west, but it includes adherents in every corner of the country, from Oregon to Michigan to New Hampshire to Florida.
On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in the city park in Elko, Nevada, to celebrate the county commissioners’ unanimous June 2 vote to have the county join the CSPOA. Neighboring Lander County was the first to join as a county in May and to write CSPOA a $2,500 check for a “lifetime” membership.
Sunday’s celebration followed a May 15 gathering in the town of Battle Mountain in Lander County, to recognize what Mack called the county’s “miraculous” relationship with CSPOA. At that event, Mack said that county officials were embracing the CSPOA’s full agenda:
If you’re saying that you’re a Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers county, you’re buying into the whole ball of wax here. You’re taking on the whole enchilada. Yes. Because we are not just a Second Amendment group. We are the entire Bill of Rights Group. And we will take back America starting with Lander County.
Other speakers denounced mask-wearing and declared that “Donald Trump is still our president.”
The Battle Mountain event also served as the launch of the “Arise USA” bus tour that Mack is embarking on with conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Richard David Steele. This week Mack sent supporters a video encouraging them to attend the tour’s “patriotic church service at the foot of Mt. Rushmore” at sunrise on July 4. “We will not succumb to tyranny,” he vowed, declaring that Americans will stand together to “promote the holy cause of liberty.”
Mack said in late May that his Nevada supporters believe they can get all but two of the state’s counties to join CSPOA. “There’s no stopping this,” he said. In Elko on Sunday, Mack slammed President Joe Biden for proposing an increase in the budget of the Internal Revenue Service, which Mack called “the gestapo of America.” Speaking of IRS agents, Mack said, “You know what I train sheriffs to do? Kick ‘em the hell out of your county.”
At Sunday’s event in Elko, Lander County manager Bert Ramos introduced Steele as the driving force behind the “Arise USA” tour. Steele, who calls Mack “the second most important man in America after President Donald Trump,” says he is on “a mission for God” and that the bus tour is about “putting the 99 percent back in charge.”
Steele runs a series of interconnected websites, including one called pedoempire.org, which purports to expose the “Satanic Empire” behind “Child Trafficking, Torture, & Murder by the Elite—with Adrenochrome, Blackmail, & Cannibalism.” Steele has been traveling the far reaches of conspiracy theorizing for a long time now. In 2017, he told Alex Jones that NASA was operating a secret colony on Mars where kidnapped children worked as slaves and told podcaster Sheila Zilinsky that if Hilary Clinton had been elected, she would have legalized pedophilia and bestiality.
“I am not in favor of abolishing the federal, state, or local governments, but I am in favor of kicking some serious ass,” Steele said at an Arise USA event in Colorado. He said that at Mt. Rushmore on July 4, he will announce the creation of a new national foundation to connect people with “truthful information, tools for thinking, and one another at the county level.”
“Our objective is plain and simple. We want to be able to drop 1,000 citizens on any school board meeting, any county commissioner meeting, any state legislature meeting, any national congressional committee meeting,” Steele added.
The Elko Daily reported on Sunday’s gathering:
Steele cited major threats to America as traitors, Wall Street criminals and satanic pedophiles.
“The National Security Agency has every single email, cell call, text, game chat and banking transaction for every traitor, every elite pedophile and every Wall Street criminal and every corrupt government official at the local, state and federal levels,” he said to applause from the crowd. “And I remind you that no army of lawyers are going to be able to stand up to an Army Ranger battalion with fixed bayonets. We’re coming.”
“I will tell you with absolute certainty that the thing that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff fear most is not jail, but us releasing their 10 most treasonous phone calls to their own public,” he continued. “They will be torn limb from limb on their own streets.”
Seven years ago, Right Wing Watch reported that Mack was urging supporters to move to Navajo County, Arizona, where he and supporters would run for office to create what he was calling a “constitutional county.” At the time, he said the establishment of “constitutional counties” was the last “peaceful” option to “regain our constitution and freedom in America.” In 2016, Mack’s favored candidate for Navajo County sheriff was defeated in the Republican primary. With Lander and Elko counties’ enlistment, Mack has finally achieved his dream of a “constitutional county.”
Over the past year, Mack has bragged about the CSPOA’s role in encouraging sheriffs to refuse to enforce state public health measures like mask mandates.
In January, just before the Capitol insurrection, Mack appeared on the radio show of far-right former Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, where Mack said he still believed that people could “take America back, county by county, one sheriff at a time,” adding, “But that means that the people are behind their sheriff. And that means that the people are getting involved in the holy cause of liberty and defending our country against this coup and this communist takeover of our country.”
Mack and the CSPOA promote their ideology and interpretation of the Constitution, which holds that “The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the President,” to local law enforcement officers. Law professor Tsai differs, writing, “Despite the ‘constitutional’ label, sheriff supremacy makes mincemeat out of the framers’ constitutional design.” CSPOA held a training at Liberty University last fall and one in Texas in March that Mack claimed drew about 40 sheriffs from Texas and others from Nevada, North Dakota, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Washington state. After the training, Mack said that sheriffs “left that conference more converted to the holy cause of liberty, more engaged in the holy cause of liberty, and more dedicated to protecting the rights of the people in their individual counties,” Mack said.
Also in March, Mack and Stop the Steal lawyer Sidney Powell headlined the “Make America Free Again” summit, where he denounced “COVID-19 dictators” and said that the “propaganda machine and fearmongering behind all this has been very communistic.” He praised sheriffs who he said tried to conduct criminal investigations into last year’s elections. “I believe without any question that we do have a pandemic,” he said, “but it’s not COVID-19. It is utter and complete and horrible corruption from Washington, D.C.”
In late May, Mack was celebrating what he called a “paradigm shift” among sheriffs, including some who were new to the movement since the group’s convention outside Houston and were “really starting to get it”—that is, adopting the CSPOA’s views about sheriff supremacy.