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

Iowa Senate Candidate Drops Out, Becomes ‘Senator’ in Sovereign Group

By Ryan Lenz on July 17, 2012 - 11:16 am, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

A state Senate candidate in eastern Iowa has abandoned her campaign and released an astounding statement that she has become a “U.S. Senator” in the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA), the largest antigovernment “sovereign citizens” group in the country.

“Let me now announce to everyone in Iowa, I have become aware of the existence of the Original Republic for The United States of America,” Randi Shannon wrote in a letter to supporters. “I have accepted the position of U.S. Senator in The Republic of The United States of America, where I may better serve You and All of The People of Iowa.”

While her announcement might sound benign, what Shannon has done in joining that “Original Republic” is nothing short of diving deep into a fantasy world that has alarmed law enforcement agencies and challenged the rule of law. Sovereigns reject the authority of the U.S. government and generally believe they do not have to pay taxes, get driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations, or follow most other laws. Most do not belong to groups like RuSA.

Formed during a secret 2010 meeting in Utah, RuSA has grown to include representatives in every state, each working to form an alternative government ready to stand up when the federal government falls – an event many in RuSA believe to be imminent. RuSA, led by “president” James Timothy Turner, also promotes a plethora of conspiracy theories that have animated the antigovernment right, including the idea that the federal government is an illegal, corporate entity formed at the end of the U.S. Civil War to enslave U.S. citizens.

In an interview with Hatewatch, Shannon and George “Rowdy” Templer, a leading RuSA official in Iowa, combatively argued that RuSA is the valid and true government. “It’s not about anti-government,” Templer said. “It’s about anti-United States Corporate government. Sovereigns govern themselves. That’s the key to the Republic.”

When pressed for her own views on the matter, Shannon accused Hatewatch of “trying to label sovereigns as being, in effect, somewhat militant.”

“That is not what the Republic is doing,” she said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, recently documented a number of cases in which RuSA members were accused or convicted of crimes, mostly  involving tax or financial scams – the bread and butter of the movement.

In early 2011, RuSA sent letters to every sheriff in the nation, ostensibly to introduce the group as a peaceful, grassroots organization demanding political reforms. The letter, though, raised alarms about the group’s real intentions. Last September, the FBI issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies that described sovereign citizens as comprising a “domestic terrorist movement.” Five months later, the FBI held a news conference to announce it was increasing its scrutiny of the movement. “We started to notice a heightened potential for violence,” said Stu McArthur, deputy director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division.

Historically, traffic stops have been the catalyst for numerous confrontations between sovereigns and law enforcement officers. In May 2010, a father-son team of sovereigns killed two police officers who pulled them over in West Memphis, Ark., and badly wounded two others before being shot to death by police in a shopping center parking lot.

With all that baggage, it’s worth asking why Shannon, co-owner of an auto glass company in Cedar Rapids, would take such a wild leap.

The truth is that other people have been duped into joining RuSA only to have their careers and intentions come under intense scrutiny. A police officer in Sarasota, Fla., was fired after he announced “citizenship” in the Republic, and a husband and wife in Alabama resigned from the Alabama State Defense Force after it become known they were members.

Shannon would not answer questions regarding these facts, instead deferring to Templer, who dismissed any questions about RuSA as agenda-driven criticism.

“We are not a threat,” Templer told Hatewatch. “We are certainly not a threat of violence. We are just here to govern this Republic. We are not the bad guys here. We are the solution to all the problems.”

  • Reynardine

    For the Hammerheads, see the Coulter thread.

  • A.D.M.

    No, Bob, it’s called having an argument. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  • Erika

    Bob, see its like this:

    if a child declares her dolls and stuffed animals to be the Senate of the United States of Erika and gives a speech in front of them in support of a law requiring parents to buy their daughter a pony it is cute.

    If an adult becomes a “Senator” in a pretend government in a non-existent country and acts like she actually holds office in a real government, it is a sign of major mental illness.

  • Bob

    Preach tolerance, attack those who do not agree with you and tow the Party Line.
    Yes, that’s the policy and demands of the Left!

  • Reynardine

    Larry, Ruslan remarked on that first off, and it wouldn’t take much for most people to notice it, but these peole are Hammerheads.

  • Larry Carney

    Does anyone of them realize how close the name RuSA comes to “Russia” – the horrid center of Communism and all things evil? Tsk-Tsk…tdhey should be more careful!

  • Mattj70

    The is over more people are down with the status que everyday. People are adopting lots of refusenik positions.

  • Linnea

    Erika: yes, you’re right. The entire Coralville-Iowa City area is very liberal, as opposed to Cedar Rapids, which is basically Backasswardsville. (I should know… I lived in Marion, which is very close to C.R…. for three years!)

  • Erika

    I mainly noted the fact that her address was listed there because Coralville is noted for being extremely liberal – it is weird how many of the right wing extremists live in extremely liberal areas.

  • CoralSea

    Erika — I won’t judge Coralville (pretty name). Just don’t think I have anything to do with the loon!

  • Erika

    CoralSea, don’t judge Coralville by this loon :)

  • CoralSea

    “Coralville,” Erika? How disturbing.

    Although the numbers of these folks is still relatively small, their zealousness and their certainty regarding the impending demise of the federal government seems a lot like the hysteria accompanying “moral panic.” You know — like when everyone was sure that daycare centers were being run by child-molesting satanists in clown suits back in the 1980s, or that satanic cults were conducting large numbers of human sacrifices (and people said they witnessed these things, but no bodies were ever found)?

    I would think that the Republicans would have the most to lose from this kind of lunacy, since it would siphon off, ah, support from extremists that would otherwise vote Republican (as the only choice against the evil Democrats and their contraception and healthcare mandates!).

  • CriticalDragon1177

    Ryan Lenz

    Do Sovereign Citizens really think they can just get away with defying lawful authority like this? Even assuming their version of our nations founding was correct, its not like they could stand up to the police without all going to jail, and an armed insurrection would fail when most Americans clearly reject their ideas, especially if they actually went up against our military, which is the best trained and equipped in the world.

  • MRJ

    I’m not sure if this guy is actually a “sovereign” or not, but it IS interesting that he stepped down and used all of the rhetoric to explain it.

    “Today I have resigned from the office of United States Representative for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.

    After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family. As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.

    The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must “strike another match, go start anew” by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.

    I do not leave for an existing job and face diminishing prospects (and am both unwilling and ill-suited to lobby), my priorities are twofold: find gainful employment to help provide for my family; and continue to assist, in any way they see fit, the Michigan Attorney General’s earnest and thorough investigation, which I requested, into the 2012 petition filing.

    While our family takes this step into the rest of our lives, we do so with the ultimate confidence in our country’s future. True, as at other times in the life of our nation, we live in an Age of Extremes that prizes intensity over sanity; rhetoric over reality; and destruction over creation. But this too shall pass, thanks to the infinite, inspired wisdom of the sovereign people who, with God’s continued blessings, will again affirm for the generations American Exceptionalism.

    Truly, it is a challenging and fortunate time to live in our blessed sanctuary of liberty.
    In closing, to The People of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District, I can but say this: Thank you for the privilege of having worked for you.”

    ~ Thaddeus G. McCotter”

    Hmmmmm…. Voter fraud? By the Right?

  • Reynardine

    Alas, another one over Cedar Rapids without a barrel.

  • adamhill

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, recently documented a number of cases in which RuSA members were accused or convicted of crimes, mostly involving tax or financial scams – the bread and butter of the movement.”

    Since the cornerstone of these people’s delusion is the rejection of U.S. government authority, they would not perceive these crimes as crimes, but rather laudable assertions of “sovereignty.” They seem clinically insane.

  • Supersonic250

    Aron- I think my problem is that I keep thinking with my brain. These guys are thinking with their rear ends. I think that’s why I just can’t understand their logic. ^^;

  • Aron


    It’s all about the bennies. The RuSA has an FANTASTIC union.

    It makes the Baseball Players Association as the UAW look like Babies First Wobblies.

  • Supersonic250

    …How do you go from being a candidate for the LEGITIMATE government, to becoming a fake Senator? I find it hard to believe that anyone is this dumb or insane.

  • Erika

    um, that should be “likely to be uneducated” :)

  • Erika

    these republican of the united states people actually make the Lyndon Larouche followers who run for office in Virginia seem rational by comparison

  • Erika

    I notice that she claims to have (or being in the process of) home schooled her children. I suspect that having mommy being a fake Senator of a fake government means that they are not likely to be uneducated enough that pretty much the only job they would qualify for is factchecker for the Glenn Beck Show (oopsie, Glenn Beck’s internet TV website). You just have to feel sorry for innocent children who are born to insane parents who home school them – they never have a chance.

    Figures that she’s a Ron Paul supporter. But she might even be too crazy for Ron Paul.

    The funniest part is the fact that she somehow thinks that she is an actual representative for the State of Iowa in their phony government (apparently these Republican of united States people don’t believe in democracy). Of course, maybe she was appointed to be Iowa’s Senator in the Republican of united States by their phony state legislature.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    What we have here, methinks, could be an American variation of the Turkish concept known as “the Deep State”, a supposed “inside of the inside” operating sub rosa under the perennial delusion that the Nation is somehow under clear and present danger.

  • Erika

    This woman seems potentially very crazy.

    Hilariously, according to the listing on the Iowa primary election website her address is listed in Coralville which is likely the most liberal juridiction in Iowa being almost entirely populated by students and faculty from The University of Iowa (her opponent is listed as living in Cedar Rapids).

    That likely suggests that what really happened here was that she got the Republican nomination in a solidly Democratic district by default – and then when the Republicans realized how crazy she really is (and that is saying something for the Iowa Republican Party – but ) they dumped her and she is trying to cover.

    Of course, that might be giving the Republicans too much credit :)

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Vladimir Putin should assert control over RuSA.