Senator Scott Baldwin is among the growing list of state and local officials across the country whose names appear on a purported list of members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia linked to the January 6 Capitol uprising .
The list that contained Baldwin’s name – and thousands of others – was leaked to reporters by a group of whistleblowers.
Baldwin, a Noblesville Republican, denied being a member of the group. He told IndyStar he donated $ 30 to the group during his unsuccessful campaign for Hamilton County Sheriff in April 2010 and had had no communication or interaction with the organization since.
Senator Mike Braun at the Chicago Police Station:Come and work in Indiana, no vaccine required
Initially, he said he had no recollection of any ties to the group.
“They’ve apparently changed dramatically since I spoke to one of their reps. Listen, you’re running for the county sheriff, you’re approached by an organization that’s billing itself as a pro-constitution and pro-second amendment. , it makes sense to donate $ 30, ”he told IndyStar. “I still don’t really know what they are.”
Although he claims not to be a member, the amount of his membership fee corresponds to the cost of an annual membership in 2010 according to an archive on the group’s website. For this amount, donors received official membership, an “appropriate for framing” membership certificate, a laminated membership card, two Oath Keepers bumper stickers and an outreach “starter kit”. the website said.
Baldwin, a US Marine Corps veteran and former Indianapolis Police Department officer, did not speak out against the organization.
“I do not know the organization, as I have said before, but I can certainly say that I do not support the violence that took place on January 6,” Baldwin said when asked if he would disown the group.
Baldwin was listed in a file obtained by IndyStar that allegedly contained tens of thousands of names of members of Oath Keepers, disclosed to reporters by the whistleblower group Distributed Denial of Secrets. The information was part of hacked data on the Oath Keepers website.
ProPublica has identified nearly 50 state and local government officials on the list, including Baldwin. The list also includes hundreds of people who identify as active or retired law enforcement, USA Today reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League both refer to the Oath Keepers as an extremist group that regularly promotes conspiracy theories. At least 18 people who federal prosecutors said were members of the Oath Keepers have been charged with their role in the January 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol.
Amy Cooter, a sociology professor at Vanderbilt University who studies militias, said in an email that the group has changed over the past decade, initially starting as an online-only organization.
But, she added, “I think as a result of OathKeeper’s involvement on January 6, elected officials who do not disassociate themselves from the group rightly face concerns over their understanding of the Constitution and their general loyalty. “
Democrats in Indiana have called on Baldwin to denounce the Oath Keepers, or “for Baldwin to reconsider whether or not he is fit for his current job.”
“Democrats in Indiana have said since Jan. 6 that Republicans in Indiana support a form of extreme partisanship that divides communities and endangers the safety of Hoosier families,” said Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Democratic Party from Indiana, in a statement, “and unfortunately this is becoming more and more true by the day.”
Baldwin, owner of construction and real estate company Envoy, Inc., was first elected to the Statehouse in 2020 to take the Statehouse seat of new MP Victoria Spartz. He was supported by the four Republican mayors of Hamilton County and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
During his first legislative session, he drafted police legislation, including one that would crack down on protesters for obstructing traffic and another that would have banned a law enforcement agency from punishing an officer who used self-defense. The bills, a reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests, have failed.
He was also one of the first three Republican senators to sign a resolution underscoring the Indiana Senate’s commitment “to protect the constitutional right to own and bear arms.” The resolution, which is more symbolic than enforceable, said Indiana “will not comply with or contribute to any attempt, state or local, or foreign or national, to restrict the constitutional rights of Hoosiers.”
The language is similar to that used by the Oath Keepers, which emphasizes the need to defend the Constitution against all enemies, “foreign and domestic”. The group has a “Statement of Orders We Will Not Obey”, the first of which is “We will not obey any order to disarm the American people.”
The Oath Keepers, who call themselves “Guardians of the Republic”, have differentiated themselves from other anti-government groups because of their focus on recruiting members of the US military and law enforcement.
But they’re not alone in Indiana, which has long been a hotbed for anti-government militias and the activities of fringe groups.
Jon Schaffer, a Columbus, Indiana man who prosecutors called a founding life member of the Oath Keepers, was among those charged with his role in the Jan.6 riot on the U.S. Capitol. Shaffer, who is also the lead guitarist for the metal band Iced Earth, pleaded guilty in April to entering the Capitol illegally wearing a tactical vest and Oath Keepers cap, armed with bear repellent for the purpose of ‘impede Congressional certification of the US Presidency Election results.
Armed members of a Westfield-based group called the Indiana Oath Keepers have sparked controversy by taking positions outside an Indiana school and military recruiting post following attacks on such institutions elsewhere.
The Three Percenters, a loosely affiliated network of anti-government groups, are also present in Indiana. In fact, another state lawmaker, Seymour’s Republican Representative Jim Lucas, identifies as a three percent (he even has the Roman numeral III tattooed on his bicep), but said he didn’t. part of any formal group.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.