Richard Mack, leader of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, is holding a training event for Texas law enforcement officials at a resort north of Houston this weekend. Scheduled speakers include Texas state Sen. Bob Hall and Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough.
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.”
The Texas event, billed as “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope,” includes a day-long Friday session open to the public and a half-day Saturday session open only to law enforcement officers. According to CSPOA, the conference is an “official” Texas Commission on Law Enforcement “training event,” and sheriffs and other law enforcement officials “will receive credit for attendance.”
On Jan. 5, Mack appeared on the radio show hosted by far-right former Washington state Rep. Matt Shea. In 2019, an investigation by the state House concluded that Shea had “participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States” through his involvement in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.
On Shea’s show, Mack said he hoped that Georgia voters would elect two Republican senators to provide a check on the “Democrat, socialistic, leftist, communist monopoly that is brewing in Washington, D.C.” Mack said he believed that “illegal voting” is what “changed California from a Ronald Reagan state to a Nancy Pelosi state.”
Mack praised sheriffs in Michigan who sought to confiscate “Dominion machines and computers.” A judge refused the sheriff’s request for a subpoena, but Mack said, “I believe that the sheriff should just go after these [machines] and go confiscate them and conduct their investigations.”
Mack’s interview with Shea took place a day before the Capitol insurrection. Mack said he was “really at a loss as to what is going to happen tomorrow in Washington, D.C.” He noted that the Oath Keepers’ Stewart Rhodes—“who you and I know very well”—“has asked President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and declare the election null and void.” Mack didn’t mention that Rhodes, a few weeks earlier, had warned that if Trump failed to do so, militias like the Oath Keepers would be forced to wage bloody civil war.
Mack said he didn’t think Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act. He said he believed that the “peaceful and effective solution for America” is to have sheriffs stand against “tyranny” and “these horrible atrocities occurring in our country.” He said he believed “we still can take America back, county by county, one sheriff at a time.” Mack added: “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.”
Promotional materials for this week’s event in Texas promise, “This training is absolutely guaranteed to provide irrefutable evidence that sheriffs and local officials of each country or parish possess the power and duty to protect their constituents from ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.”
CSPOA holds an exalted view of the power of local sheriffs, as described on its website:
When we look at the Office of the Sheriff, combined with the historical powers held by that office, he stands as the upholder, defender, protector and servant to the liberties of the people within the county.
In addition to upholding the law, the sheriff is also charged with upholding the supreme law, the Constitution.
The law enforcement powers held by the sheriff supersede those of any agent, officer, elected official or employee from any level of government when in the jurisdiction of the county.
The vertical separation of powers in the Constitution makes it clear that the power of the sheriff even supersedes the powers of the President.
Furthermore, it is this responsibility that grants a Sheriff the Constitutional authority to check and balance all levels of government within the jurisdiction of the County.
CSPOA opposes most federal land ownership beyond military installations and urges county sheriffs to “use their authority to assist in the transfer of control of the land, and prosecution of violations of citizens’ rights by federal authorities.”
As an county sheriff in Arizona during the Clinton administration, Mack challenged provisions of the Brady Bill, a federal gun control measure, and the U.S. Supreme Court sided with him in 1997.
CSPOA’s website features a recording of an interview Mack did on NRA TV explaining what questions a person could ask to figure out if their local sheriff is what he calls a “constitutional sheriff.” Mack said people should ask their sheriff what they would do if President Joe Biden issued an executive order to confiscate AR-15s and AK-47s and other assault rifles, and if the federal government asked sheriffs to help them take people’s guns. If a sheriff says they wouldn’t assist the federal government, Mack urged them to go further, saying, “No, I didn’t ask you that. Will you stand an interpose, and protect us from gun confiscation?” Either way, Mack said, sheriffs need CSPOA training.
In December, Mack appeared on a right-wing activist’s podcast where he denounced governors who imposed COVID-19 public health restrictions, claiming that they “think that they’re complete dictators.” He said he was encouraged by, and took credit for, the number of sheriffs who publicly refused to enforce public health orders.
Other speakers scheduled to appear at this weekend’s gathering include:
- Michael Peroutka, a neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist anti-LGBTQ activist who was the Constitution Party’s presidential candidate in 2004. He was a major funder of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s political career and other religious-right efforts. In 2014 he argued that the Maryland legislature was no longer a “valid legislative body” because it had voted for marriage equality, which he deemed in violation of “God’s law.” Peroutka is a former board member of the secessionist League of the South; at the group’s 2012 conference, he asked people to stand for the national anthem and then launched into “Dixie.”
- Laura Pressley, a Republican Party activist who unsuccessfully challenged her loss in a 2014 race for Austin City Council based on her belief that voting machines were illegally used and that there were other “irregularities.” Pressley continues to advocate against the way electronic voting machines are used through her LLC Texas True Elections.
- KrisAnne Hall, an anti-government activist who teaches that almost everything the federal government does is unconstitutional and urges people not to comply. She is the star of the trailer for “NonCompliant,” a movie that appears to mix radical anti-government libertarianism with conservative evangelical Christianity.
CSPOA held a similar training session at Liberty University last September that “was attended by more than 200 county sheriffs, chiefs of police, elected officials and private citizens,” according to CSPOA.