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Custer Sheriff, Rapid City Legislator, Pennington Commish Host Right-Wing Enemies of Constitution and Truth

Bluestem Prairie notices that Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley, Representative Tina Mulally (R-35/Rapid City), and Pennington County Commissioner Travis Lasseter are hosting a December 1 speech in Rapid City by an insurrectionist police officer and a right-wing radio radical.

CSPOA December 1 Rapid City Mack/Dean event flyer, retrieved from 2021.11.23.
CSPOA December 1 Rapid City Mack/Dean event flyer, retrieved from 2021.11.23.

Former Graham County, Arizona, sheriff Richard Mack founded the “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association” and travels the country to peddle the unconstitutional and dangerous notions that local sheriffs can supersede the authority of Congress, the President, the Supreme Court, and even their own state governments. Mack disguises this insurrectionist sentiment as “training” for the cops he’s trying to indoctrinate and recruit into his unconstitutional movement:

The central tenet of CSPOA, borrowed from the anti-government extremist sovereign citizen movement, is that the county sheriff is the ultimate authority in the county, able to halt enforcement of any federal or state law or measure they deem unconstitutional. Mack, a former Arizona sheriff, has used this false narrative to oppose gun control laws and, in the last two years, to exploit anger and frustration over federal and state actions to combat COVID-19.

ADL is releasing this report today because we are especially alarmed that Mack is increasingly seeking out law enforcement audiences, billing his extremist events as “trainings.” In a disturbing development, in 2021, Mack won official state approval for his “trainings” in Montana and Texas, which allows attendees to receive continuing education credit for attending Mack’s events [Anti-Defamation League, “New ADL Report on Richard Mack and the CSPOA: Extremists Training, Recruiting Law Enforcement Nationwide,” 2021.10.06].

If you have to ask what’s wrong with local cops arrogating judicial power, you need to go back to civics class. You’ll hear this:

Mack says that more than 100 sheriffs have shown up at the annual conventions his group has organized, including many in 2014 where Finch received the group’s top honor: Constitutional Sheriff of the Year. With forty other sheriffs, Finch signed a resolution there declaring they would not tolerate any federal agent who attempted to register firearms, arrest someone, or seize property in their counties without their consent.

Jared Goldstein, professor of constitutional law at the Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island, said this vow conflicts with the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes federal agents to enforce federal law even when it clashes with state or local laws. “What makes them dangerous,” Goldstein said in an interview, is that they want “the sheriffs to resist federal authority,” using phraseology that he contends leaves the door open for violence. In their stubborn resistance to federal authority, he added, they are like Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed last year for flouting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling granting gay couples the right to wed — “but with guns” [Julia Harte and R. Jeffrey Smith, “‘The Army to Set Our Nation Free’,” Center for Public Integrity, updated 2016.05.24].

Mack’s movement has its roots in white-supremacist activism and domestic terrorism:

In the 1970s, a minister in the white supremacist Christian Identity movement, William Potter Gale, wrote a series of articles that would come to be known as the handbook of the Posse Comitatus movement. Gale described sheriffs as the only “legal” law enforcement officers in the country and urged citizens to form their own militias to resist encroachments on their rights if sheriffs did not. The constitutional abuses he cited included the federal income tax system, gun control, federal education, and civil rights laws. He advised citizens to form their own “common law” courts to try officials who violated the constitution, and prescribed archaic punishments, such as hangings.

Contemporary “sovereign citizens,” who generally reject federal authorities, are inspired partly by Gale’s rhetoric and partly by past bloody clashes between federal officials and citizens charged with illegal gun sales and ownership. Terry Nichols, who is now in prison for planning the Oklahoma City federal center bombing that killed 168 people and wounded more than 680 others this week 21 years ago, is a notorious member of the sovereign citizen movement, according to the FBI [Harte and Smith, 2016.05.24].

Bradlee Dean is another bigoted crank who, while playing chaplain one day in 2011 to the Minnesota House of Representatives, violated the chamber’s decorum by boosting the lie that President Barack Obama is not a Christian. That breach prompted Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers to move to strike Dean’s name from the House journal and vow never to let Dean or liars like him onto the House floor:

“I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans,” Dean said in his invocation in the Minnesota House. “Or the Presbyterians, the evangelicals or any other denomination, but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name.”

Zellers, R- Maple Grove, restarted the House session and brought in a chaplain to redo the prayer. He also condemned Dean’s prayer in a floor statement.

“Members, I can only ask for your forgiveness. That type of person will never ever be allowed on this House floor again as long as I have the honor of serving as speaker,” Zellers said [Tyrese Griffin, “Fallout Continues over Anti-Gay Minister’s Prayer at Minnesota Capitol,” Washington Independent, 2011.05.23].

Insurrectionism and lies—par for the course for Republicans like Lasseter, who proudly displayed a Confederate symbol on Legislative campaign website in 2016, and Mulally, who has praised her ideological Rapid City school board for its rejection of facts and science in its crusade for coronavirus. Nor should the presence of South Dakota Gun Owners as a sponsor at the bottom of this unhealthy event surprise us: SDGO allies itself with the radical Gun Owners of America, which is giving Kyle Rittenhouse a gun and which has employed Mack in PR work, and SDGO backer Jordan Mason’s political marketing consultancy Launch Collective.

But what about those other listed sponsors? Event site Grand Gateway Hotel, Outback Steakhouse, and Left Turn Haulers (PPP recipients in Black Hawk)—do you businesses really want your corporate brands associated with right-wing radicalism and indecorous lies?

Fortunately for all of us, CSPOA says seating is limited, so maybe there will only be room for a few of the suckers on whom people like Mack and Dean prey, poor frightened people who can easily be lured into forking over $15 for an evening of destructive reinforcement of their ignorance, insecurities, and prejudices.


  1. bearcreekbat 2021-11-23

    The weird part of all this is the label “The Constitutional Sheriff.” The ideas advocated by this guy and his supporters are inconsistent with both the Supremacy Clause and the Article III judicial power of the Constitution (as established in 1803 in Marbury v. Madison). If these folks don’t like the Supremacy Clause, or the Marbury decision, then I don’t get why they don’t simply make that argument and either seek to amend or rewrite the actual Constitution.

    I guess misrepresenting the text and judicial interpretaions of the actual Constitution works so long as the targeted audience is a group that has never read the Constitution nor has any even the most basic understanding of the history of the judicial power vested by Article III. But if that is the audience, then it makes one wonder – what is point of relying on this false description of the Constitution when that same targeted audience apparently could care less what the document says or means?

  2. ArloBlundt 2021-11-23

    Well…here we go, the Christian Identity Right outflanking Governor Noem on the far right. They will find many adherents in the southern hills (northern as well). Look for candidate Haugaard to make an appearance and roll up some West River support. The boys will be locked and loaded.

  3. Porter Lansing 2021-11-23

    A reporter for Rolling Stone, in 1971 traveled from LA to Vegas to cover such a meeting of radical pigs.
    Things turned “crazy”.
    To quote the author, who lived a life of ease in rural Aspen, from the money he made publishing his exploits of this journalistic journey,
    “Insanity is a legal term. Crazy is an art form.” – Hunter S. Thompson

  4. ArloBlundt 2021-11-23

    Yes, Porter its Fear and Loathing …to paraphrase Hunter..”When the going gets weird, the weird get twisted.”

  5. larry kurtz 2021-11-23

    Why anyone is surprised by this stuff remains a mystery since bilking the extreme white wing of the Republican Party is the easiest dough going especially in a South Dakota county named for a war criminal. How do I know? It was my foodservice market for ten years.

  6. cathy 2021-11-23

    This is the sort sort of thing attracting the “Blue State Refugees” to the hills. Too bad the FDLS moved out.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-11-23

    It would be fun to go and to laugh out loud, its really the only response that works.

  8. grudznick 2021-11-23

    You fellows do realize that the Rhoden Rhangers are more of a cerebral, thinking-man’s group, not really the well-trained militia some think they resemble when acting in coordinated fashion and some events, right? And certainly they are not associated with these “constitutional sheriff” fellows. Heck, grudznick is more of a constitutional sheriff than most of this particular group and their ilk. I’m tempted to attend their little gathering and refuse to pay the $15 and we’ll see what happens then.

  9. jerry 2021-11-23

    Per diem charges, mileage charges and hourly charges, all courtesy of South Dakota taxpayers. Grifters unite in this case.

  10. ArloBlundt 2021-11-23

    Well grudz…the Conservatives with Conscience and the Rhoden Rhangers should hold a competing meeting (for free) in the same Motel…at the same time..see what kind of crowd you draw and what kind of reception you receive from the assembled Armed and Deranged.

  11. grudznick 2021-11-23

    That, Mr. Blundt, is a very intriguing idea. There is another motel across the street, if I recall, and we could use our price leverage with the Perkins in the parking lot to sway many fellows who would be lured by a reasonably priced breakfast, served all day.

  12. ArloBlundt 2021-11-23

    And you could cater in a large vat of biscuits and sausage gravy as an inducement…see how many recruits you come up with. You’re much more likely to secure members there than on Dakota Free Press.

  13. Porter Lansing 2021-11-23

    Lefse is really good. I was just joking, since I’m Swedish. #grins I like it with Land ‘O Lakes unsalted butter and white sugar. #WhoKnew?

  14. John 2021-11-24

    Porter, you continue to amaze, thank you.
    Let’s do our parts to ensure the FBI, US Marshals, and DOJ bust up these treasonous freedum thinking morons.
    Every gun nut lugging an assault rifle to a public rifle range should be on their shortlist for monitoring. Nip. Them. In. The. Bud.

  15. Joe 2021-11-24

    Yet another reason to stay away from the trash food at Outback, and the “Grand Gateway”. There are plenty of other nice places to rest one’s head in Rapid.

  16. larry kurtz 2021-11-24

    Recall that in 1973 the courthouse in a town named for a war criminal was the scene of a confrontation between Native American activists that not only led to the occupation of Wounded Knee on the Oglala Lakota Nation it led to the creation of a white nationalist militia in the county.

  17. Donald Pay 2021-11-24

    Kurtz in one of his posts pointed out the money aspect of these travelling salvation shows: $$$$$$$.

    I’m not sure what normal citizen would plunk down $15 to rest their butt for a couple hours to listen to a bunch of out-of-state lunatics, when they could be buying toys for their children or working that second job. It’s not for your average Rapid City resident, obviously. These guys are from states where wages are a bit higher than they are in Rapid. They probably don’t understand that $15 is a pretty steep price to attend what you can get for free from any one of the local amateur nutcases. The objective, then, must be to get taxpayers to fund the coven of local law enforcement and other local government fascists. I’m assuming various government offices will say this is “training,” and sign up a bunch of people from their offices to attend, all on taxpayer expense. Maybe they already have. In fact, that could be why “seating is limited.”

  18. Mark Anderson 2021-11-24

    Well Donald, a good comedy show costs 20 around here.

  19. grudznick 2021-11-24

    Plus, Mr. Pay, we have plenty of out-of-state lunatics on the South Dakota Dakota Freepress, for which one only needs to toss a few quid into Mr. H’s tip-jar. Although this gathering at the motel near the Perkins breakfast joint will probably have donuts and coffee included. All you can eat.

  20. ArloBlundt 2021-11-24

    Well…I have been wondering, since this gathering is of alleged “Constitutionalists” and freedom lovers who only recognize their county Sheriff as the final arbiter of what is legal and what is not: Will smoking be allowed in the seminar?? That will be a true test of their commitment to “personal freedom and accountability.

  21. grudznick 2021-11-24

    I do not believe it is their county Sheriff they recognize as the final arbiter, it is the self-proclaimed Constitutional Sheriffs they bow to. Much like Mr. Howie and his TV preacher group, or those fellows who declare their homesteads as a sovereign country unto itself and start printing their own currency and then trying to pay the banks and such.

    Better to stick with a good old solid American green-back, or some of that new fangled crypto-currency which is internationally accepted, like grudzcoin.

  22. leslie 2022-01-31

    … in jurisdictions where anti-government ideology predominates and the population is heavily in favor of expansive gun rights —it is no surprise that local officials would choose not to enforce the anti-militia laws they have available. Worse, in some areas of the country, elected sheriffs who call themselves “constitutional sheriffs,” in reference to their view that they answer to no one except the constitution as they interpret it, openly support unauthorized militia activity as necessary to counter the purported tyranny of government as they see it.
    Even if none of these barriers to state and local enforcement existed, there would still be a compelling need for federal action. As the mobilizations from well before Charlottesville have shown, unauthorized paramilitary organizations regularly travel across state lines, join with other paramilitary organizations in their armed activity, and create a public safety and national security threat that transcends the boundaries of any local or state jurisdiction. When Cliven Bundy called for help after the federal government attempted to seize his cattle for non-payment of decades of grazing fees on federal lands in Nevada in 2014, hundreds of unauthorized militia members came from multiple states. The armed standoff, during which militia members trained their rifles on federal agents, ended with the federal government relinquishing the cattle and retreating. Unauthorized militia members acted similarly a few years later, traveling from across the country to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in protest against the imprisonment of a father and son convicted of arson for setting fires on federal land more than a decade earlier. The ensuing standoff ended only after a militia member fleeing law enforcement was shot and killed.

    The list goes on and on. Militia members from states as far away as Washington traveled to Charlottesville to join with others who used their paramilitary tactics and assault-style rifles to interpose themselves between protesters and counterprotesters. Members of an accelerationist militia trained in Georgia, built a machine gun in Delaware, and planned to start a civil war in Virginia to hasten their effort to create a white ethno-state in the Pacific Northwest. Militia members from multiple states conducted planning in Ohio and trained in Michigan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer because of public health measures she ordered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Militia members from Texas, Florida, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Arizona trained for, traveled to, and assaulted the U.S. Capitol, while also manning an arsenal of weapons for a Quick Reaction Force just outside Washington, D.C. The threat involves interstate activity, and the response requires the superior resources and capacity of the federal government.
    Congress Can and Should Address the Threat from Unauthorized Paramilitary Activity, by Mary B. McCord
    January 24, 2022

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