The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Arizona Bar Admonishes Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes

By Ryan Lenz on June 29, 2012 - 11:49 am, Posted in Antigovernment

It turns out Stewart Rhodes, the Yale-educated lawyer who founded the Oath Keepers to encourage police and military personnel to disobey orders they deem unconstitutional, has a hard time following the rules of conduct for lawyers.

Hatewatch has learned that the State Bar of Arizona has admonished Rhodes for practicing without a license. Rhodes wrote “notices of claim” on behalf of two people who were removed from a Quartzsite, Ariz., Town Council meeting last year. The notices, which generally precede a lawsuit, accused town officials of violating the rights of Michael Roth and Jennifer Jade Jones, a local blogger, by removing the pair from a raucous council meeting that sparked national interest and widespread theorizing from the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

“There was no justifiable reason my client should have endured being singled out for political reprisal, first amendment retaliation and subjected to false arrest,” Rhodes wrote in one notice seeking $350,000 in damages for Roth. “It is apparent that the actions of the officers were retaliatory and meant to punish, degrade, intimidate and harass.”

Town manager Alex Taft told Hatewatch this week that she lodged a complaint with the Arizona Bar after inquiring whether Rhodes was associated with any firm licensed to practice in Arizona. As it turns out, he was not. This May, the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee of the Supreme Court of Arizona issued a reprimand fining Rhodes $600.

While hardly a punishing fine, the admonition must come as an embarrassment for Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper who frequently brandishes his Ivy League credentials to bolster his conspiracy theories about the federal government. He did not return several messages left with his law offices in Kalispell, Mont., seeking comment.

But for his followers, who fear the government has grown tyrannical, admonishing Rhodes might seem like another instance of the government trying to discredit one of its vocal critics.

It’s that conspiracy-mindedness that first drove Rhodes and the Oath Keepers into the Quartzsite drama – a complicated tale of alleged small-town corruption that pitted Police Chief Jeff Gilbert and the Town Council against then-Mayor Ed Foster, several police officers and a handful of citizens. The battle was byzantine enough that it’s hard to say exactly what happened. But the story became national news after an online video of Jones’ arrest during the council meeting went viral and prompted widespread condemnation of town officials.

And what fueled that condemnation? Extremists worried that the martial law they   fear had finally come to a tiny town in the desert.

At the time, the Oath Keepers posted a message on its website proclaiming that Quartzsite, a town of rock hounds and retirees about 130 miles west of Phoenix, had become a “vital pivot point on which small-town America shall awaken to the encroachment of corruption and violation of rights from Federal levels downward into our local communities and our daily lives.” The group ordered a muster, swept in to stand arm-in-arm with Jones and Foster, both of whom they believed had been targeted by the police. Then they left.

A year later, Quartzsite seems to have settled down. The Oath Keepers hasn’t returned –– despite heady promises to fight for liberty wherever it is threatened. For now, at least, it seems the only thing Rhodes and the Oath Keepers achieved by wading into a story of small-town corruption was embarrassment.

  • richard

    Constitution says nothing about requiring a license to help someone with legal advice. Am I the only one that gets that?

  • Ron Chritian

    The president of the United States, and pretty much all our federal legislators, along with the US Supreme Court, have completely destroyed any concept of the Bill of Rights, in essence declaring themselves absolute rulers, and everyone is worried about whether someone who complains about it practices law without a license? There is no rule of law left in America, only those who still pretend there is.

  • CHUCK

    When you step back and look at some of the comments posted, there’s a lot of hate coming from Hatewatch.

  • Larry

    So the fact that both BHO and his wife surrendered their law licenses in Illinois to prevent censure and possible disbarment would be a non sequitur

  • Eric

    I am an OathKeeper. I just want to set some hypocritical views straight.
    I do not believe in armed insurrection.
    I do not believe that the government is trying to overthrow us.
    I do not believe that the government will commit to martial law.
    I do not believe that we will have another revolution.

    I believe that there are individuals who are in public offices committing crimes against citizens. I do believe that civil liberties are being violated. After all that is the true purpose of SPLC. Hate speech is used everyday in presidential ads. TV ads are using defamation of character. Defamation of character is any accusation that can be proven wrong and IS against the law. SPLC rides the double edge sword on defamation. SPLC is also a hate group in their own right and should put themselves on their own list.

    SPLC has taken it upon themselves to fight against violations of civil liberties but somewhere along the line got lost in their extremist position to hunt down witches and burn them all at the stake. How easy it is to lose sight of the bigger picture.

  • Micha

    There is no such thing as a license to practice law. Period. Do not take my word for it, for that would be heresay. Research it for yourself.

    How many on this forum have actually read the Treaty of Paris, the Trading With the Enemy Act or any of the other Acts, Treaties, etc.? If you want to decide for yourself if these Oath Keepers have a reason to be paranoid, study the various ducuments that spell everything out.

    To really understand why so many “patrilts” are nervous, read every Executive Order by every president from Washington until present. If you are not that initiated, at least read the Executive Orders since the 1980′s.

  • Mike Frye

    “””” What gives any officer of the law the ability or right to determine what is and is not Constitutional? “”””

    I will address that question that clearly was stated by a Individual that has Never Sworn a Oath to Our Constitution. It’s the Oath that gives the ‘right to determine what is and what is not Constitutional. It would help if the Officer under Oath either understood our Constitution or carried one with them.

    Also, The SPLC in their infinite wisdom .. Has once again portrayed in propaganda the real Hate !! Thumbs UP SPLC keep up the good work !! For, We all know your “SPLC” is anything but Patriotic, or concerned with the welfare of Our Nation’s People !!

    Must be Why Us OathKeepers are here !! We are not encouraging anyone to Break Orders, We are encouraging them to refuse Non Constitutional Orders !! that makes us a Right Wing Hate Group ?? Since when did upholding and defending Our Sworn Oath to Our Constitution makes us A Anti Government Right Wing Hate Group ??

    Is the SPLC a ANTI Constitution & People organization ??

    It appears that way to this OathKeeper !!

  • Bret Hohenstreet

    There is a difference between a law and a statute.
    Being licensed to practice is a rule (statute) made by an administrative agency, not a law. Here in Missouri, the
    Missouri Constitution, Article 1, section 31, reads That no law shall delegate to any commission, board, bureau, or other administrative agency authority to make any rule fixing a fine or imprisonment as punishment for it’s violation.
    And that is a law.

  • Peter Hockley

    Robert Lazo
    Milwaukee, WI
    “Standing in the open for any DHS,FBI,CIA,ATF,NSA, or TSA trolls.”

    How about a UK one?

  • Erika

    Identity-H, I never experienced a power outage that lasted more than a couple of hours until I moved to a place with a privately owned utility – it seems that just about any storm will knock power out here and often for days.

    Maybe because the municipal system where my parents live actually engages in preventive work or maybe its because they have local crews and trucks and don’t depend upon bringing in crews from out of state following a storm (last year when a hurricane knocked power out to my house for a week, the power was restroed by a crew from Alabama).

    Where my grandparents lived not only had a municipal power system, the city actually owned its own power plant (the city actually makes money selling power to private power companies.

    But it seems likely that any sort of fact will be above Robert’s head if he doesn’t realize that AEP and Dominion Power are private for profit entities.

  • Identity-H

    Robert:

    It’s funny that you bring up the storms out east and how they’ve resulted in power outages. Many cities have privately run utilities who are the ones responsible for restoring power after storms, not local governments.

    Also, I’m from Milwaukee, WI too and we’re suffering from climate change as well by means of a drought and a record-setting heat wave.

    So yes, you loonies are affected by this as well. The only failure of the government in this instance has been it’s unwillingness to get serious on climate change and regulate carbon emissions. Ironically, any move to do so would likely result in Oath Keeper hysteria.

  • Reynardine

    Erika, I know in Florida, a non-member of the Florida Bar can only be prosecuted for UPL through the criminal justice system, because the Bar does not have juriisdiction over them. But Florida Bar members with a UPL beef on them in another jurisdiction can face penalties up to, and including, losing their tickets.

  • Erika

    And Robert, what possible relevance is President Obama’s bar status which you are wrong about anyway, according to the Illinois State Bar’s records, http://www.iardc.org/lawyersearch.asp President Obama’s bar status is “Voluntary Retired” with no disciplinary records, Michelle’s status is “Inactive” also with no disciplinary records

    Retired with no disciplinary records is much better “status with the courts” than being found to violate basic rules of professional responsibility like not practicing law in a state you aren’t licensed in – oh and Rhodes hasn’t even faced his real punishment yet – because he wasn’t admitted in Arizona, there was only so much they could do to him – he’s going to face discipline based upon the Arizona violation in every state he is currently licensed in – I’d be very surprised if Montana doesn’t revoke or suspend his license for committing UPL in a different state – state bar associations take UPL very seriously.

  • Erika

    Robert, both my parents and I lost power during recent storms. It took me over one day (approximately 32 hours) to get power restored. My parents power was restored within 3 hours. The city where my parents lived had all of their customers back having power within a day after major storms with hurricane force winds. A nearby city still has numerous customers with no power and no plans by the power company to even begin working on restoring power there until tomorrow.

    Guess who lives in a city with a municipal (which is to say government owned and run) power system and who lives in a city with a a private (which is to say for profit parasite) power system?

  • Leslie

    Robert,

    Not all citizens who receive social security checks are left of center–but if the GOP keeps telling them they don’t deserve what they have paid into for 40 years then they will probably move in that direction.

    Peace Out.

  • http://Twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Robert,

    You also claim to be a ‘free and sovereign.’ So good luck with that, yourself.

    Whack job.

  • robert lazo

    Oath Keeper and Three Percenter reporting in.

    Yes we are proud of Mr. Rhodes. And his standing with the courts are just fine. Better than where Mr. Obama sits at this time.

    Good luck with the up and comming recession/deppression.

    Oh yea, Hope any of you “lefties” waiting on your government check have power, food, and water if you are out east. All of us crazy people do!

    Robert Lazo
    Milwaukee, WI
    Standing in the open for any DHS,FBI,CIA,ATF,NSA, or TSA trolls.

  • Joseph

    I’m from Texas. And I’m an Oath Eater. The premises of it are really quite simple. It specifically states on the back of my card what we will not do. I cross checked it with the bill of rights, and I freely admit that it’s a bit out of the ball park, but fun if you’re ex-military – and you “learned your letters” like me.

    And under no circumstance should an attorney practice law without a license in any state, no excuse for that one. I hope you realize not all Oath Keepers make questionable decisions, and the organization is bigger than just one man.

  • CoralSea

    Erika — Once again, I think you have hit the nail on the head, and that this gentleman probably DOESN’T believe that the law applies to him. Among the many pathologies floating around during the last few years, meglomania appears to be one of them!

    Beverly — If you show some of the uninformed what the constitution actually says, do they believe you? Or do they just assume that, because you read enough to own a Kindle, that you are an edyoomecated librul who is trying to trick them?

  • Erika

    it doesn’t matter how looney right wing a state is, that you can’t practice law without a license is pretty universal.

    I seriously wonder how any attorney could make such a fundamental mistake unless he thinks that the laws don’t apply to him.

  • http://bevmar.wordpress.com Beverly Margolis-Kurtin

    Forgot to mention that now I also keep a copy of the Constitution in my Smartphone, using the Android Kindle app. It steams me whenever someone claims to know what the document says and hadn’t bothered to read it. I don’t even try to memorize it because my physical RAM was damaged during a stroke; that’s why I ALWAYS have my phone with me so I can jot down notes and act as my memory.

    I heard that Congress actually got some work accomplished today for the first time in a long time. The Pubs are going to rue their futzing around the way they have, but I’ve a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that the idiot American voters are once again going to give the president another four years and then stick him with a GOP Congress. I would love to be wrong.

    Romney does so much twisting and turning that NOBODY knows what he stands for. It seems that he is for everything and against everything at the same time.

    Since I’m over 70, I am exempt from having to show my driver’s license or other photo ID to prove who I am. Texas is one of the moron states that is trying to prevent something that has almost never happened.

    I just hope that the kind citizens of Texas have learned their lesson and gets rid of our idiot governor, Bush Jr. No, that is insulting to our former prez…our governor is even DUMBER than Shrub.

  • http://bevmar.wordpress.com Beverly Margolis-Kurtin

    Ah wonders whotz hapenin this hear kountre. Seemz 2 me that ‘zona wuld luv the guy.

    The “Oath Keepers” should be called the “Oath Eaters.” What gives any officer of the law the ability or right to determine what is and is not Constitutional?

    I have two copies of the Constitution that I keep with me at all times. One of them is a printed copy in pocket sized form (in my purse) and the other is in my Kindle Fire to make searching very fast. I have yet to have an individual say something was Unconstitutional that held up as true. Most people have never READ the document and therefor have zero concept of what is and is not Constitutional. I’ve had people quote the Declaration of Independence to prove that something was or was not Constitutional. Yeah, I’ve got THAT in my Kindle, too.

    Sum peopelz jus ain’t no konzept of whut a thing iz of iz not.

  • CoralSea

    Wow — can you imagine being slapped down by a looney, Right-wing controlled state like Arizona? If it had been Massachusetts or some other “librul” state, he could probably have spun it as a fund-raising tool and a vendetta against him. But Arizona?

    Too bad, so sad, boo-hoo!

  • Joseph

    No argument here.

  • Erika

    I guess that keeping his oath as an attorney to practice law according to the rules of professional conduct weren’t so important to him