Sam Bushman, the CEO of the antigovernment Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), defended running white-nationalist broadcasts on his online station, Liberty News Radio (LNR), during an extended, often-meandering telephone conversation with Hatewatch on Feb. 21.
Asked about the programs “Blood River Radio” (BRR), which is obsessively focused on the false conspiracy narrative of “white genocide,” and “The Political Cesspool” (TPC), on which host James Edwards has for years hosted a rotating cast of prominent white nationalists, Bushman first falsely disputed that BRR was on his station’s schedule, then repeatedly claimed that the SPLC-listed extremist Edwards was “not a white supremacist” and “is a good guy.”
Bushman claimed his “purpose is free speech,” said that he believes in “faith, family and free speech,” and continued repeating this justification throughout the 90-minute conversation with Hatewatch.
Asked if a belief in free speech compelled him to offer his own radio station to white-nationalist extremists – or even to occasionally host them on his own programs – Bushman offered various justifications.
At one point in the conversation, Bushman said, “That’s how dialogue happens” and claimed through dialogue he could “dissuade” people from an adherence to extremist politics. At another point he offered a comparison between his inclusion of extremists on his shows with former Los Angeles radio host Phil Hendrie’s practice of assuming characters on air and staging arguments with himself, saying, “He knew it would get people’s attention.”
Later, Bushman claimed that he was simply seeking “intriguing political conversations” by platforming white nationalists.
Bushman steadfastly refused to say whether he or his station earned money on advertising that ran during those programs, saying that the information was “private,” insisting that “I will not reveal contractual information” and asking in the face of Hatewatch’s repeated questions on the matter, “How much does the SPLC pay you?”
Bushman also unpredictably drifted into unrelated topics during the conversation. At one point he said that “I believe that evil people run the world. ‘The Moneychangers,’ I call them.”
He also offered contradictory positions on race. Though at one point he said, “I condemn and reject slavery,” he appeared to qualify this – and minimize slavery – by asking rhetorically if “a slave who learned to read and write on a plantation” was worse off than “a kid who is on the streets in Chicago” and falsely claiming that “the first plantation owner in Florida was a Black woman.”
He also said: “Do I believe in forced segregation? Absolutely not. But nor do I believe in forced merging. I believe in free association.”
The rhetorical embrace of “free association” has been a common strategy on the far right since the victories of the civil rights movement forced the desegregation of schools, colleges and public amenities in Southern states.
Bushman was appointed as CSPOA CEO last November, replacing Richard Mack. In announcing that move, however, Mack made it clear that in his new role as advisory board chair he would retain “complete control” over the organization.
In recent years, Mack has conducted ideologically loaded trainings to law enforcement officers in at least three states, and in seeking to expand CSPOA’s operations and membership, he has repeatedly sought to play down his connections with white-power groups.
The content broadcast on Bushman’s radio station, and Bushman’s attempts to justify carrying them, will complicate any future efforts to rhetorically distance CSPOA from overtly racist politics, and may in turn raise questions for law enforcement officers who continue to support the organization.
The political cesspool: White-nationalist propaganda on air
The James Edwards-hosted TPC is one of two white-nationalist programs on LNR’s schedule. Edwards has hosted his openly racist and antisemitic radio show since 2005, and currently it broadcasts on Memphis Christian radio station WQRM as well as LNR.
Edwards has relentlessly used the program to interview and promote extremists from a range of far-right groups.
In recent months, he has hosted guests including Unite the Right (UTR) organizer Jason Kessler; UTR participant, white-nationalist podcaster and “crying Nazi” Christopher Cantwell; American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor; white nationalist, Klan lawyer and regular speaker at the American Renaissance conference Sam Dickson; white nationalist and former congressman Steve King; neo-Nazi tour operator Harry Cooper; white nationalist podcaster Tim Murdock; antisemitic author and former professor Kevin MacDonald; and the founder of the white-nationalist propaganda site VDARE, Peter Brimelow.
Last month, Edwards did an almost hour-long interview with Sascha Roßmüller. Roßmüller is a writer for Deutsche Stimme, the house publication of Germany’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party, and vice chair of Europa Terra Nostra, a political foundation connected to the neo-fascist Alliance for Peace and Freedom Party, a federation of national far-right parties.
Beyond running the station and soliciting advertisers, Bushman has appeared on the show as a guest on several occasions, including at least two appearances in 2022.
On New Year’s Eve, Bushman was one of “a parade of guests” on the show including Taylor, Dickson, Murdock and MacDonald. An hour of that broadcast was devoted to a conversation between Edwards, Bushman and Michael Hill, founder of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who marched along with his organization at UTR.
Hatewatch emailed Edwards for comment on his guests and what if any financial relationship he might have with Bushman.
He responded, “I am very proud of my program and the fine men and women with whom we associate,” adding, “I do not apologize for associating with people that the Southern Poverty Law Center hates and will never disavow any of my friends.”
Blood Red River
Another, newer program on LNR is “Blood River Radio” (BRR), hosted by former Edwards collaborator Eddie Miller. Like TPC, BRR is listed as a white-nationalist hate group by the SPLC. The broadcast runs on Liberty News Radio on Saturdays and Sundays, according to station schedules.
The broadcast appears to take its title from a comment made by right-wing, pro-segregationist preacher Jerry Falwell during a televised 1985 debate on apartheid with the Rev. Jesse Jackson. In defense of the racist apartheid system, Falwell warned of a “blood red river of communism” flowing through Africa, a prospect he linked with opponents of the white-supremacist South African regime.
Each episode sees Miller, his co-hosts and guests promoting the idea that white populations around the world are being exterminated or replaced and that Jewish people are orchestrating this process.
While Miller was at one time Edwards’ co-host on TPC, he has branched out on his own with a show entirely focused on the false conspiracy-minded narrative of “white genocide.” BRR’s website site map indicates the outlet has been posting podcast episodes since October 2018.
BRR’s “About” page claims that “genocide is being pursued against White Gentile people of the world,” and it includes lurid and unsubstantiated claims about a campaign of “mass rapes, torture and horrific murders” intended to eliminate whites from South Africa.
Also on that page, in a section titled “Summary of Global White Genocide,” BRR claims that “hardcore extermination of whites physically, biologically, spiritually, culturally, has been ongoing for years in South Africa, but has picked up in rate, level of violence, and intensity,” connecting this with the claim that “the UK, Europe, and the U.S. have suffered fatal levels of mass, nonwhite immigration.”
The show’s themes may be an indication of how successful the South African far right has been in promoting the false idea that whites in the country are subject to a deliberate and ongoing genocide, and how useful that idea is to white nationalists around the world in promoting “great replacement”-style conspiracy theories.
One of Miller’s regular co-hosts is Monika Schaefer, a German Canadian woman who is a prolific Holocaust denier. Schaefer, who ran as a Green Party candidate for Canada’s Parliament, was sentenced to 10 months in prison in Germany in 2018 for incitement to hatred attributed to a YouTube video in which she described the Holocaust as the “biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history.”
Schaefer uses her airtime to promote fellow Holocaust deniers. Guests have included neo-Confederate and antisemitic pamphleteer Nancy Hitt; Canadian neo-Nazi Paul Fromm; and South African neo-Nazi Jan Lamprecht, who was ordered by a Randburg, South Africa, Magistrate Court to cease posting antisemitic materials online.
Miller has also platformed antisemites and Holocaust deniers including Barnes Review writer John Friend. On Feb. 26, 2022, Miller hosted a joint discussion with well-known Holocaust deniers Fred Leuchter and Jim Rizoli, in which they promised to “delve deep into debunking the Holocaust – that Sacred God, that patented, trademarked, jealous god that will have no other gods before it.”
BRR has also repeatedly featured neo-Confederates, many of whom wish to restore legal white supremacy in the American South. One of the first guests in the program archive was Valerie Protopapas, who has also written extensively for Georgia's neo-Confederate Abbeville Institute. More recently, they hosted Mark Tomey, the current executive officer for the neo-Confederate League of the South, one of the groups that marched at UTR in 2017.
According to BRR’s archives, Bushman himself appeared as a guest on the show in November 2019, when he debated Miller’s co-host, Matt Goodwin, on the value of the U.S. Constitution.
Hatewatch emailed Eddie Miller for comment but received no response.
CSPOA founder, leaders claim to disavow racism
The CSPOA was founded in 2011 by a former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack. The organization is made up of sheriffs, police officers and other law enforcement officers who claim to act in strict adherence to their own interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
In accordance with their belief that sheriffs can effectively veto laws they consider unconstitutional, CSPOA member sheriffs have refused to enforce state gun laws, threatened to arrest federal employees who have closed public lands for conservation purposes, and refused to police public health measures introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mack has also offered “trainings” under the CSPOA banner for law enforcement officers in Texas and Montana as well as another training event at Liberty University in Virginia, which the organization claimed was attended by 200 officers.
Mack founded the organization on his erroneous belief that sheriffs are the highest legal authority in their counties. He claims that this authority means that they can and should resist the measures of a federal government that he believes has far exceeded its own constitutional authority.
Mack, who once worked as a public relations director for the “no-compromise,” antigovernment, pro-gun organization Gun Owners of America, was especially concerned as CSPOA leader about any moves to restrict firearms ownership, but he and the organization also involved themselves in matters related to public lands and civil rights enforcement.
The belief in “county supremacy” is derived from the explicitly racist, antisemitic Posse Comitatus, which combined a version of white-supremacist, Christian Identity beliefs with an antigovernment ideology.
Despite this lineage and his longstanding ties with the racist far right, Mack has always denied that he or CSPOA is racist, and he has even drawn spurious analogies between antigovernment activists such as himself and civil rights leader Rosa Parks.
Bushman’s position as CSPOA leader – even as he appears to promote and earn money from such white nationalists as Edwards, Miller, their co-hosts and some guests – may make it more difficult for the organization to distance itself from organized racism.
Liberty News Radio: Earning from extremism
LNR is only Bushman’s most recent foray into radio.
On the “About” page of LNR, Bushman claims to have been first attracted to talk radio “about twenty-five years ago” when he heard “hard-hitting talk radio exposing the ‘news the networks refuse to use.’”
On the same page, Bushman says he operated a now-silent station, KNAK, in Delta, Utah, between 1996 and 2006.
Federal Communications Commission records do not indicate when Bushman took control of KNAK, but they do show that he transferred ownership of the station to a Florida man, Jay Harrison, in 2006.
LNR appears to operate on the same principles as terrestrial right-wing talk radio stations like KNAK, the one Bushman once operated, running paid ads against its propagandistic or extremist content.
In conversation with Hatewatch, however, Bushman claimed that “not all the ads are paid for,” and also claimed he had run free advertisements for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which he is a member. Bushman further claimed that he ran advertisements as orginally broadcast by a syndicated hourly news service he rebroadcasts – for which they collect the fee –on the principle of barter, which he claimed to be “common in the industry.”
The site’s “Advertise” page asks readers to “let Liberty News Radio tell the world about your product or service on Nationally-Syndicated Radio with a Fully-Produced :30 or :60 Second Commercial, a Professional Web Banner.”
LNR is one of at least three trading names used by an underlying Bushman company, Sam Bushman Inc., according to Utah company records. The other trading names include Small Business Tech Guys, Stick To It Charts and End to End Technologies.
Stick To It Charts no longer has a live website, but Internet archives of a website and a blog, and an advertisement in a home-schooling magazine, indicate that it was fronted by Bushman’s wife, Julie. According to those archived materials, the company marketed a money-management system for home-schooling parents to teach to their children.
The other two businesses leverage Bushman’s experience in terrestrial and online radio.
End to End Technologies is listed on the contact page of a website devoted to a software product called “Audio Compass,” which the site describes as a “new, reliable technology; a.k.a. Audio Over Internet Protocol (AOIP)!”
The website claims the software allows the transfer of “low-delay, crystal-clear audio over the internet from one location to another,” and it is apparently available from several pro audio and broadcast retailers who are linked to from Bushman’s site.
Small Business Tech Guys still has a live website that identifies Bushman as the owner and carries a Bushman podcast, “Tech Watch.”
The website offers services including “Cloud Radio Station Automation” and “Podcast Production.” Significantly, the automation services offered appear to be geared to set up online radio stations similar to the one Bushman runs.
Also, LNR’s “Affiliates” page states that stations wishing to broadcast or syndicate content on the station need to purchase a “Barix Reflector Service” device. These devices, manufactured by the Swiss company Barix, allow broadcast audio signals to be distributed over the internet without the digital compression that characterizes digital audio protocols like MP3.
The affiliates page states, “If you purchase the Barix Device from LNR we will make sure the correct firmware is installed and ready to go before your Barix device is shipped to your station.”
LNR is not listed as a dealer on Barix’s website.
Hatewatch emailed Barix for comment on LNR’s offer to sell their devices to affiliates but received no response.
It is not clear how much income Bushman derives from these businesses or what, if any, salary he draws from CSPOA. There is little transparency in CSPOA’s operations, since the organization is not a nonprofit, but as Mack pointed out in his Nov. 1, 2022, website announcement of Bushman’s appointment, a private entity that is still under Mack’s “ownership, complete control and veto authority.”
Hatewatch gleaned no further specific information on these matters from Bushman.
For now, Bushman remains at the head both of an organization that has trained law enforcement officers and claims to represent “constitutional sheriffs,” and a radio station that unapologetically platforms white nationalists.
Photo illustration by SPLC