Thursday Dec. 6, 2012
A former Arizona sheriff and tea party favorite who visited Elkhart County last January — sponsored in part by Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers — is the focus of a critical report by a national civil rights group. Rogers even gets a mention.
A report (look here) in the Winter 2012 edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s quarterly publication, Intelligence Report, calls Richard Mack “a patron saint of the resurgent anti-government ‘Patriot’ movement and a meticulously coiffed darling of the tea party set.” It suggests that his anti-federal government message — Mack sees the feds as power hungry and overbearing and county sheriffs as the force to check the power grab — has extremist undercurrents:
While Mack shakes his fist at the federal government and wants to devolve virtually all power to state and local governments, he says he does not favor violence. But his rhetoric is certainly confrontational and seems to fuel the passions of extremists as well as audiences closer to the mainstream…
To the Tea Party activists who delight in his pugilistic attitude toward the government they distrust, Mack may seem like a natural ally. But some analysts say the ideas he is helping to transmit from the fringes of the radical right into the mainstream of conservative thought are extreme and, perhaps, dangerous.
Mack, former Graham County, Ariz., sheriff, heads a group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, or CSPOA. Rogers sits on the group’s Council of Sheriffs, Peace Officers and Public Officials and co-sponsored Mack’s
Jan. 10 visit here (see this archived Elkhart Truth article and this blog post, complete with a short vid). A local tea party group, the Tea Party of Michiana Action Coalition, or TEA-MAC, was also a sponsor.
The Intelligence Report piece, out in late November, mentions Rogers, but doesn’t really pass judgement on him. It alludes to his presence at a CSPOA conference in January, shortly after he faced off with the Federal Drug Administration over its moves against a Middlebury-area dairy farmer who provides raw milk:
At the group’s inaugural conference last January in Las Vegas, more than 100 sheriffs from around the country gathered, including Elkhart County, Ind., Sheriff Brad Rogers, who garnered Patriot fame in December 2011 when he vowed to arrest Food and Drug Administration agents if they tried to inspect an Amish man’s dairy farm without a search warrant. “When I saw things like Waco and Ruby Ridge and [the] Hurricane Katrina gun grab, I’m telling you, as sheriff of Elkhart County, Ind., that stuff’s not going to happen in my county,” Rogers said.