When dozens of federal officers raided the isolated Georgia home of neo-Nazi firebrand Chester Doles in March, the thick-necked carpenter was arrested on fairly routine charges: five counts of illegal possession of weapons.
But Doles' case quickly became a cause célèbre on the extreme right, with the neo-Nazi National Alliance launching a "Free Chester Doles" campaign, calling Doles' arrest part of a "Jewish" Justice Department campaign to clamp down on white nationalists.
In May, Doles and his supporters made an even more remarkable claim: If enough money could be raised, they said, Doles might be represented in court by one of America's best-known conservatives, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr.
In a letter from prison, Doles told his comrades that his wife Theresa had met with Barr on May 16; at the same time, Theresa Doles told a National Alliance radio show that she needed a $50,000 retainer and $15,000 for expert testimony.
A month later, on the same radio show, Alliance Membership Coordinator David Pringle said that enough donations had come in to convince Barr to come on board. Those donations "bought us Bob Barr," Pringle said. We bought that. We bought power. We bought influence."
Neither Barr nor his law partners in Jasper, Ga., Edwin Marger and Bernard Charette, would answer questions from the Intelligence Report about whether they are taking Doles' case. "While we would like to be responsive to your inquiry," Marger wrote by fax, "I hope you understand that we do not comment on potential clients."
In the past, Barr, like former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, has flirted with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a large hate group that recently described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity."
A former U.S. attorney who joined Marger's firm after losing his bid for a fifth term in Congress last November, Barr became best known in Congress as a boisterous advocate of impeaching President Bill Clinton. He has also been a leading champion of gun owners' rights, serving on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which Theresa Doles also claims is helping her husband.
With his criminal history, Doles may need powerful representation in court. Before he moved to Georgia, Doles had racked up nearly a dozen assault arrests and served two separate prison sentences in Maryland — the second, and longest, for the vicious 1993 beating of a black man who he and a fellow Klansman left for dead. Between prison stints, Doles led a major Ku Klux Klan faction in Maryland.