On Thursday March 15, 2018 the House chamber of New Hampshire state legislature will vote on a non-binding resolution urging the federal government to pardon Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus, a so-called “Patriot” anti-government extremist who participated in the armed standoff at the Bundy Ranch in 2014.
The statement, House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 11, was introduced by State Rep. Daniel Itse, along with seven other co-sponsors: Reps. J.R. Hoell, Werner Horn, Elizabeth Ferreira, Jordan Ulery, Scott Wallace, and Sens. Harold French and Bob Giuda.
Rep. Itse, however, has a particular track record of supporting other legislation mired in far-right, anti-government extremism.
As far back as February 2009, shortly after Barack Obama became President, Itse sponsored HCR 6. The non-binding document advanced a “states’ rights” argument that, in effect, claimed states have the right to refuse to comply with any federal laws or policies enacted deemed “unconstitutional.” (The states’ rights argument has a documented history of being used to perpetuate slavery before the U.S. Civil War, act as the basis for violent secession from the Union and continues to be used as a code word to resist ongoing attempts at racial equity.)
In 2011, Itse sponsored a bill, House Bill (HB) 343, which called for a “permanent state defense force,” separate from the New Hampshire National Guard.
While state defense forces exist legally in many states, they often fail to attract quality personnel and experts have pointed out that they frequently become a venue for right-wing extremist activity. As result, many state defense force units have been purged or altogether banned. Far-right extremists often supported the creation of these units where they didn’t previously exist or were inactive so that they can legally engage in paramilitary activities. Not surprisingly, a blog posted by the Tenth Amendment Center, which is run by anti-government extremist Michael Boldin, praised Itse’s bill.
In 2015 and 2018 Itse sponsored his second and third “states’ rights” resolutions, HCR 7 and HCR 20, respectively. Both documents asserted that states have a “natural right” to “nullify” its ties to the United States and secede in the event of a perceived abuse of powers by the federal government. In 2018, Itse also co-sponsored HB 1653, a bill that seeks to protect so-called “Sovereign Citizen” anti-government extremists from any legal consequences due to participating in pseudo-legal tactics such as filing false liens against government officials.
Outside of anti-government extremism, Itse has also co-sponsored proposals like Senate Bill (SB) 289, which are so-called “voter identification” bills that require eligible New Hampshire state residents to present a valid photo ID card before they could vote. Critics of voter ID bills including those of SB 289, point out that their effect has been to suppress voter turnout among poor and minority voters.
Gerald DeLemus is the spouse of Susan DeLemus, a former New Hampshire state legislator who once made national headlines for calling Pope Francis “the anti-Christ,” and has her own history of far-right legislative and political activity. During her short time as a state representative she has sponsored or co-sponsored anti-“foreign law” bills attacking Muslims, anti-sanctuary city bills attacking immigrants, anti-resettlement bills attacking refugees, nativist resolutions that promote the conspiracy theories like the North American Union and anti-government resolutions like HCR 7 (the same one Itse cosponsored) advancing racially-coded states’ rights arguments.