Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes is sentenced to 18 years in prison
Stewart Rhodes grew up in the Southwest and joined the Army after finishing high school.
He became a paratrooper, receiving an honorable discharge due to an injury in a night parachuting accident.
He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduating in 1998.
During his time there, Rhodes claims he taught rape prevention at the college women’s center, and it was also during that period that he bounced around a number of other jobs including working as a certified concealed-carry firearms instructor and a valet driver.
In 1993, he lost his eye when he dropped a loaded handgun which shot him in the face. He has worn his hallmark eyepatch ever since.
That year, the Waco siege deeply affected him. Ending in the deaths of more than 70 members of an armed Christian sect, he saw it as illustrative of the danger of government power.
After college, his first politically oriented job was supervising interns in Washington, DC, for Libertarian Ron Paul, then a Republican congressman from Texas.
Rhodes subsequently attended Yale Law School, graduating in 2004, and clerked for Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan. He later volunteered on Paul’s failed 2008 presidential campaign.
Following his experience with the Paul campaign, Rhodes published one of his first political diatribes. Appearing on his blog in January 2008, the post blasted political opponents’ charges that Paul was linked to hate groups and racists. (The congressman’s Ron Paul Report, in fact, did contain many racist statements over the years, but Paul has claimed that he did not write or read them). Using the fevered language that would become his trademark, Rhodes railed against the ‘full-blown smear campaign.’ Calling it a ‘lame attempt at guilt by association’ and ‘stupid,’ he added, ‘This only tells me that Ron Paul is a real threat to the political establishment, and they are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to stop the Ron Paul Revolution.
Rhodes went on to disclose that his maternal ancestors were Hispanic and ‘American-Indian,’ and made the argument that because he was ‘mixed-race’ and saw no indication of racism, the claims against Paul had no merit.
Rhodes then took a hard-right turn away from electoral politics in 2009, forming the Oath Keepers, a Nevada nonprofit organization.
He began recruiting current and former military officers, veterans and police officers, and started the Oath Keepers blog.
At a rally in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 2009, Rhodes officially launched the Oath Keepers before a large crowd of first responders.
Rhodes moved from Nevada to Montana, relocating his law practice and joining a growing movement presence in the Big Sky state. He registered the group as a non-profit and created a board of directors, in a bid to give his group legitimacy – carefully avoiding the word ‘militia’, condemning racism, and stating on the blog that members were only to fight as a last resorts.
‘Our would-be slave masters are greatly underestimating the resolve and military capability of the people,’ Rhodes wrote on his blog.