Mixing guns and politics : Citizens militia group now meeting at Tea Party HQ in Grass Valley

Members of the Oath Keepers walk with their personal weapons on the street during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday. (Photo: Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Members of the Oath Keepers walk with their personal weapons on the street during protests in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Add another right-wing extremist group to western Nevada County’s local lineup: A local contingent of Oath Keepers — a loosely organized anti-government militia group  — has been meeting at the county Tea Party’s “Liberty Center” in Grass Valley, according to the Tea Party’s calendar.

Oath Keepers describe themselves as fulfilling “the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’”

The group is composed of members who have, or previously had, some sort of connection to law enforcement or the military.

Like others, I’m noticing that conservative politics in our community is increasingly becoming intertwined with guns and law enforcement (even though law enforcement is supposed to be “nonpartisan”). This has clearly morphed into a political strategy for the local right.

This weekend, for example, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal was the keynote speaker at last night’s “spring dinner” of the Nevada County Republican Party. The right is rallying around a marijuana cultivation ordinance, which has polarized the community. Loud anti-marijuana activists have only made matters worse.

The mix of guns and GOP politics is on the rise throughout rural Northern California. In a report this weekend, the Sacramento Bee observes  “the proportion of Republicans in a county correlates with the rate that concealed carry handguns permits are issued to residents (see chart at bottom).” The number of permits in both Placer and El Dorado counties rose by about 50 percent from 2012 to 2015, the Bee reported.

“I believe an armed society is a safe society,” El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini told the Bee. D’Agostini has long been associated with the “Constitutional sheriff” movement.

Constitutional Sheriff Richard Mack is a board member of the Oath Keepers. “Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack is speaking!” the Nevada County Republican Party website announced back in 2014, when he came to speak in Grass Valley. Sheriff Royal was going to introduce Mack, but he backed out at the last minute.

Meanwhile, the Nevada County Tea Party has launched its own “Back the Blue” campaign that includes  providing local officers with search tools. In a fundraiser last year,  the Nevada County Tea Party raffled off an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, among other guns, as previously reported.

Among hard-right political groups, the Oath Keepers — essentially a citizens militia group — are among the most extreme.

“Men, all of them white and heavily armed”

Members of the Oath Keepers were present at the Bundy Ranch standoff in Clark County, Nevada; they appeared on the streets of Ferguson, MO, during the protests and unrest (“‘men, all of them white and heavily armed,” as the Washington Post put it); and they traveled to Kentucky trying to prevent Kim Davis from being arrested when she refused to marry gay couples — violating a court order.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Oath Keepers as a “fiercely antigovernment, militaristic group.”

One Oath Keeper told the New York Times in 2014 the group’s membership includes  “a really broad group of citizens, and I’m sure their motivations are all different. In many of them, there’s probably a sense of patriotism.”

As the June primary and November election near, we can expect to see more extremist political activity — both in our community and nationally. In the past, a local war of words has been waged over issues such as Proposition 23, the global warming denier’s effort to suspend the “Global Warming Act.” Now we’ve “kicked it up a notch,” with guns to go with extremist opinions and nasty rhetoric. It can be intimidating — but of course that’s the point.

Here’s the Sacramento Bee’s chart showing the proportion of Republicans in a county correlates with the rate that concealed carry handgun permits are issued:


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

15 thoughts on “Mixing guns and politics : Citizens militia group now meeting at Tea Party HQ in Grass Valley”

  1. Oh no I’ve poked George Rebane’s bee hive:
    “Sandbox – 24apr16 [Tempest fugit. Again I am tardy with a fresh sandbox. Was told that certain leftwingers are now sowing hate and fear because Oath Keepers have been detected in the county. All hands on deck to man the purple paint brushes! gjr] Posted at 09:11 AM in Comment Sandbox | Permalink”

    It’s hard to believe that this clown administers a “Tech Test” to our local kiddos. If only more of our community’s parents read his blog!

    1. Thanks Don. I wonder how the Oath Keepers fits into our western county’s economic-development plan to attract college-educated millennials. You can’t make this stuff up!

  2. We could go into all kinds of detail about the links between our elected Sheriff and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, including this post from moi in December of 2013:
    Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal is listed as a one of the sheriffs who has publicly stated that they will not follow or enforce laws that they personally deem to be unconstitutional.


    Sheriff Royal was also the President of the California State Sheriffs Association and signed the letter dated February 7, 2013 that the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) is interpreting as supporting their position.


    To my knowledge Sheriff Royal has done nothing to refute the characterization of his position as in support of the CSPOA.

    Or just go up to the search box and put “Constitutional Sheriffs” in and read the threads.

    Nothing wrong of course with Sheriff Royal attending and speaking at a Republican Party dinner and fundraiser, he is after all a Republican. I would hope he would attend a similar event with the Democrats if he were invited; he holds a ‘non-partisan’ office.

    But there is something very wrong with our Sheriff rubbing elbows with many of the very same people, both at the recent dinner and by agreeing to introduce the leader of the CSPOA to the community, then backing off when he released that it might be controversial.


    One has to wonder why he would not intuitively know that introducing Richard Mack might be a problem; or why having his name listed on Mack’s web site as a supporter (which it no longer is ) would be a problem.

    It does not take a rocket scientist to know that a Sheriff elected to a non-partisan office should not be rubbing elbows with people who advocated for the lawbreakers and the Oath Keepers to point guns at the heads of federal law enforcement officials at Bundy Ranch.

  3. Nevada County is spending more than $650K in its latest contract to promote economic development, which includes drawing college-educated millennials to our community. Meanwhile, the county is becoming a haven for citizens militia groups, global warming deniers and other right-wing extremist philosophies. The message being sent comes through loud and clear: college-educated millennials go home! What a mixed message.

    1. I think “fish” is becoming my shadow — or more like gum on my shoes. He copies and pastes my post to the right-wing nut blogs faster than a New York publicist. LOL.

  4. Meanwhile, Todd Juvinall has become unhinged. Again. Go Todd! Mommy and daddy would be proud of you. But I suspect they paid their taxes on time.

    1. Todd thinks that his aggressive nature will make his detractors cower, but what worked in the past in some instances doesn’t work now. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Todd was skewered on the Nevada County Peeps Facebook page this weekend for spreading lies about Heidi Hall, which were denied. And all the comments were signed with real names — not trolls like on Todd’s blog. Some excerpts:

      “I contacted Heidi Hall and this is her position on chemtrails: ‘NO I do not believe in the chemtrails conspiracy. I am a believer in science, not speculation.’ I hope her statement puts an end to the prior incorrect postings on this site. Thank you.”

      “Will Todd issue a retraction and apology?”

      “That figures, he never tells the truth about anything.”

      “Todd Juvinall is a pretty universally hated shill.”

      Even Todd’s daughter argues with him on Facebook. Todd needs a “father figure” or at least a girlfriend to set him straight. Otherwise, he’s headed for self destruction. Poor fellow. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person. ROFLOL.

  5. They mis-spelled “meeting” as “meetting.” They can’t decide if it is the Lowell G. Robinson Center or the Nancy Garcia Center. They are offering rentals, but only to conservative groups. I think the California Fair Housing folks prevent that? I could be wrong. Thanks for location the source of the Heidi Hall chemtrail bullshit, I can now clarify that on Vents, the Facebook group, with full attribution.

    1. This boob cracks me up. He is so blind he can’t imagine that A LOT, not just a few, people think he’s a clown! Go Prop. 23. ROFLOL!
      “…but isn’t it nice when Jeffie and Stevie are playing in the FUE’s sandbox? “Jon” goes away. Nap time.
      Posted by: Gregory | 24 April 2016 at 09:46 PM”

  6. “Pelline and Frisch must be Sail Alinsky aficionados”
    That’s funny. That guy and his blogging buddies are total dinosaurs.

    1. Yes, “the gang of six”: Todd, Russ, Rebane, Gregory, “Bill Tozer” and Don Bessee: The pride of western Nevada County CA politics!

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