Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association
|I fought the law|
and the law won
The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA, for short) is a US Peace Officer group that believes that sheriffs are "the highest executive authority in a county and therefore constitutionally empowered to be able to keep federal agents out of the county". It promotes this viewpoint as a method of saving the country from tuh overbearin fedrul gubmint. It is unclear how they intend to spread their ideology to states such as Alaska or Connecticut, which lack any office of the sheriff. Their membership consists of a staggering fourteen sheriffs, one county commissioner, and one chief of police, drawn from thirteen states (mostly southern and western). The organization draws much of its philosophy from the similar sovereign citizen and Posse Comitatus movements. Co-founder Richard Ivan Mack (1952–) (sheriff of Graham County, Arizona from 1988-1996) believes, "The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our own federal government." Mack founded the CSPOA in 2010. Joe Arpaio (sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1993-2016) has been a supporter or member since at least 2013.
Richard Mack and Oath Keepers
Mack is also one of the founders of the Oath Keepers, a group focusing on police and military personnel which, though it may occasionally reflect slivers of militia ideology, advocates that members lay down arms and nonviolently refuse to comply with orders they view as unconstitutional[note 1] It is Mack's view that "[t]he greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government… One of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality."
Despite not being a sheriff since 1996, Mack still calls himself "Sheriff Mack" on his website, a form of credentialism. Despite not having any formal law background, Mack has claimed to have trained sheriffs in how to interpret the US Constitution. Based on Mack's erroneous interpretation of the Constitution, sheriffs in Virginia were able to pressure the legislature to carve out an exception for sheriffs in a law enabling civilian oversight of law enforcement.
They have as legal advisor one Judge Navin-Chandra Naidu, who has worked with many organizations from the Sultanate of Sulu to a Chinese county, and is a member of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists. Sounds like an interesting guy. His website, "Ecclesiastical Court of Justice and Law Offices," has the usual stuff about the country being essentially Christian in nature, and offers advice on how churches can avoid paying tax. In 2001, he was a wanted man, accused in Fiji of forging his law degree, and his dealings with the Pembina Nation in North Dakota have managed to irk the Anti-Defamation League.
In January of 2012, the CSPOA invited all sheriffs and deputies in the US to come to their conference in Las Vegas. Several hundred did show, including 8 from Colorado; to a person, they returned making heroic attempts to be respectful while not laughing their collective asses off. The general opinion of the "liberal"[note 2] sheriff of Weld County was something along the lines of "We thought they had some interesting points, but overall we were unable to accept that this is the role of local law enforcement."[note 3]
There was speculation at the convention that the convention was designed to help support Arizona in the coming months, when the courts were to rule on the Constitutionality of Arizona's anti-immigration policies. The US Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that part of the law was supersed by Federal law.
Mack was the principle adviser in the standoff betweeen Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management in 2014 over grazing rights on public lands. Mack advised the Bundys to "put all the women up at the front" in case law enforcement started shooting and that women should be "the first ones shot".
In August 2015, a few armed white men who self-identified as members of Oath Keepers showed up at the Ferguson, Missouri anniversary protests of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. Were they there to protest government overreach in killing unarmed civilians? No, they were there to "protect" someone who worked for Alex Jones' Infowars website.
Through its store, CSPOA promotes a scammy site (Body Align) that sells worthless products for 'protection' against 5G and electromagnetic fields (EMF). CSPOA also promotes a more run-of-the-mill dietary supplement site (Global Healing).
In 2020, Barry County, Michigan Sheriff Dar Leaf, a member of CSPOA, attempted to enlist fellow CSPOA members to seize voting machines because of his belief in Donald Trump's election conspiracy theory.
There's a new sheriff in town
In 2023, Mormon Sam Bushman became the new CEO of CSPOA. Bushman is also the owner of the right-wing Liberty News Radio (LNR), which has given airtime to ex-KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and Unite the Right fascist Jason Kessler. In an interview with Hatewatch, Bushman engaged in slavery apologetics and made a thinly-veiled reference to the International Jewish conspiracy theory ("I believe that evil people run the world. 'The Moneychangers,' I call them."). LNR hosts a program called Blood River Radio by Eddie Miller, which has touted the white genocide conspiracy theory and Holocaust denial. Both Bushman and ex-CEO Mack have claimed to not be racist themselves, but their direct associations make these claims hard to believe.
- Boosted by the pandemic, ‘constitutional sheriffs’ are a political force by Kimberly Kindy (November 2, 2021) The Washington Post.
- Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association
- "The entire point of Oath Keepers is to advocate nonviolence. We're telling police and soldiers that if they're asked to do something unconstitutional, or asked to violate the rights of Americans, that they should put down their guns. We just saw this with the Tunisian military, by the way, when it refused orders to fire on protesters." - Stewart Rhodes, co-founder, in April 2011 Interview with Reason
- "We have a large group of people in my county who agree with these principles," said Weld County Sheriff John Cook, explaining why he attended the conference. "I agree with a lot of it. But I don't advocate, obviously, violence against other law enforcement offices."
- Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (archived from January 20, 2012).
- Welcome to SheriffMack.com (archived from July 13, 2014).
- An introduction by Sheriff Richard Mack, Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (archived from August 21, 2010).
- Profiles on the Right: Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (November 22, 2013) Political Research Associates.
- The Troubling Sheriffs’ Movement That Joe Arpaio Supports: Trump's pardon didn't just let off a campaign ally. It endorsed a growing push to exempt sheriffs from any federal authority. by Robert L. Tsai (September 01, 2017) Politico.
- Oath Keepers: Orders We Will Not Obey 
- Constitutional Refuseniks by Radley Balko (May 2011) Reason.
- Keller, Larry (August 2009). "The Second Wave: Return of the Militias". A Special Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center
- Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (archived from December 2, 2021).
- 'The Army to Set Our Nation Free': Former Sheriff Richard Mack has a plan to roll back gun control, tax laws and land-use constraints, one defiant local law enforcement official at a time by Julia Harte & R. Jeffrey Smith (Published April 18, 2016; Updated May 245, 2016) The Center for Public Integrity.
- Beware the extremist, dangerous and unconstitutional ‘constitutional sheriffs’ by Christy E. Lopez (December 17, 2021) The Washington Post.
- Ecclesiastical Court of Justice and Law Offices
- Speight lawyer wanted for forgery (June 12, 2001) TV NZ (archived from April 16, 2015).
- Emerging movement encourages sheriffs to act as shield against federal tyranny by Nancy Lofholm (February 11, 2012 at 1:22 p.m. | UPDATED: June 9, 2016 at 11:15 a.m.) Denver Post.
- From a personal conversation between a RationalWiki editor and a Boulder County deputy sheriff about the convention.
- See the Wikipedia article on Arizona SB 1070.
- CSPOA Breakout Session Schedule: Saturday, June 1, 2013 Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (archived from October 7, 2013).
- Ex-Sheriff Wanted 'Women In Front' In Case Of Shootout With Feds by David Moye (04/15/2014 04:23pm EDT | Updated December 6, 2017) Huffington Post.
- Former sheriff willing to let wife, daughters die on front lines of Bundy ranch by Jessica Chasmar (April 15, 2014) The Wasington Times (archived from June 17, 2014).
- Who are the Oath Keepers, and why has the armed group returned to Ferguson? by Sarah Larimer and Abby Phillip (August 11 at 12:49 PM) The Washington Post.
- In Ferguson, protesters challenge state of emergency by Abby Phillip, Mark Berman and William Wan (August 11 at 12:53 PM) The Washington Post.
- BEWARE: Harmful EMF Radiation Comes From MANY Electronic Devices! CSPOA (archived from July 8, 2021).
- Global Healing CSPOA (archived from July 7, 2021).
- Vax Stats Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.
- Emails: Michigan sheriff sought to seize voting machines amid Trump claims by Jonathan Oosting (July 2, 2021) Bridge Michigan.
- He Parties With Neo-Confederates, Trashes MLK, and Leads the 'Constitutional Sheriffs': Sam Bushman advocates for the “white race." Should he run a group that trains law enforcement? by Tim Dickinson (October 17, 2023) Rolling Stone.
- Sam Bushman, the CEO of the antigovernment Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), defended running white-nationalist broadcasts on his online station, Liberty News Radio (LNR), during an extended, often-meandering telephone conversation with Hatewatch on Feb. 21. by Jason Wilson (February 28, 2023) Southern Poverty Law Center.