Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne addresses members of the Sheridan County Republican Party at a May 2021 anti-Cheney fundraiser at the Knights of Columbus Hall in downtown Sheridan. (Nick Reynolds/WyoFile)

Wyoming Republican Party Chairman William “Frank” Eathorne is one of the nearly 200 Wyoming citizens listed by a whistleblower group as members of the far-right anti-government Oath Keepers group.

The FBI has described the Oath Keepers as a “paramilitary organization.” Founded in 2009, the Oath Keepers philosophy is based on a set of conspiracy theories positing that the federal government is working to destroy American liberties, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group’s name refers to the oath taken by military and police to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Members of the extremist group have made headlines in recent years for showing up heavily armed at Black Lives Matter protests, polling places and other events. More than 20 suspected members of the Oath Keepers have been arrested in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The leader of the extremist group, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, has encouraged members not to recognize Biden as president or comply with any of his legislation.

The Oath Keepers claim tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, according to the SPLC.

Distributed Denial of Secrets, a whistleblower group, obtained a cache of Oath Keepers-related data this fall, including the membership list and chat logs.

DDOS published 5 gigabytes of redacted data related to the hack in September.

The membership list, which WyoFile obtained, features more than 38,000 names, including 191 Wyoming citizens. Media outlets nationwide have identified Oath Keepers members within their own states who are in law enforcement or elected office, prompting internal investigations and calls to step down

A short-lived ‘fairy tale’

Boone Tidwell, a long-time Cody resident, became a member of Oath Keepers in 2009. He nearly took on the title of Wyoming Chapter President for the group, he said.

Initially, he said, there were 200-300 Wyoming people active online in the Oath Keepers. Folks were waking up to constitutional issues, Tidwell said, and he liked the idea of its “Reach, Teach, and Inspire” mission. 

The group’s presence was short-lived in Wyoming, Tidwell said. Engagement dropped off quickly and in-person gatherings typically only attracted a handful of people. It’s difficult to organize in a state where members are all geographically so far apart, he said.

Following the group’s involvement in high-profile national stand-offs with law enforcement — including at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada and at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon — “then anyone with a brain bailed out,” Tidwell said

“Oath Keepers is a fairy tale here,” he said. “There was a presence in a computer 12 years ago.”

In 2020, Tidwell organized a “Protect Against Racism” rally in Cody with the goal of protecting businesses against destruction. That event had nothing to do with the Oath Keepers, he said.

Wyoming names

Eathorne is perhaps the most prominent Wyoming resident to appear on the leaked Oath Keepers membership list. The Wyoming native and former law enforcement employee became the chairman of the state GOP in 2019. He had previously served as vice chairman. He also campaigned against Republican Eric Barlow in the Wyoming House of Representatives District 3 — Campbell and Converse counties — primary election, losing by more than 21 points. 

Eathorne did not respond to several requests for comment.

Eathorne’s alleged membership is significant, according to Brian Levin, director of the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne testifies before the Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions in Sheridan on Sept. 2, 2021. (Nick Reynolds/Wyofile)

“It is disturbing that someone of such a high political position would be affiliated with the Oath Keepers, who have about 20 members facing charges out of the Capitol insurrection and who promote the idea of Second Amendment “insurrectionism” — which means they can revolt when they subjectively believe that the government has become tyrannical,” Levin said.

Eathorne traveled to D.C. and attended the Trump rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol. He said in a Jan 7. statement that he participated in peaceful protests near the White House and did not witness any violence or property destruction.

While no active state legislators appeared in the leaked documents, Ken Pendergraft, who sought political office in 2020, was listed as an enrolled member. 

Pendergraft ran for the District 29 seat from Sheridan County in the Wyoming House of Representatives. Mark Kinner, a Republican, has held the seat since 2015. 

Pendergraft’s campaign Facebook page cited the Wyoming Constitution, and argued “gun free zones” are unconstitutional. He referred to Kinner as “liberal” and laid out his own platform. 

“After the November Presidential election results should be final, they won’t be,” one Facebook post read. “There’ll be law suits on both sides, challenging the validity of any result. Chaos is coming. We need strong principled leadership in Cheyenne to help build that firewall against this chaos. We need people who understand what’s going on and see it coming; people who are planning and have planned ahead. I appreciate your vote on Aug 18 to help stop the madness. Thank you.”

Ultimately voters cast 932 votes for Kinner and 716 for Pendergraft. 

When asked about his alleged Oath Keepers membership, Pendergraft had no comment, saying he didn’t want to talk “because it’s WyoFile.” He worried whatever he said would come out “twisted,” he said. 

Gubernatorial candidate Dr. Taylor Haynes at a July 12, 2018 debate in Cheyenne. A whistleblower group listed Haynes as a member of the Oath Keepers in fall 2021. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Dr. Taylor Haynes, a former gubernatorial candidate, is also listed as an Oath Keepers member.

On his campaign Facebook page, Haynes describes himself as “a statesman, a rancher, and a constitutional scholar with a vision for Wyoming that is founded on Constitutional-based government.” 

In 2018, the state attorney general determined that Haynes was ineligible to serve as governor because he was a Colorado resident. (Haynes’ property straddles the border between the states.) On the Oath Keepers membership form reviewed by WyoFile, Wyoming is listed as his state of residence.

Haynes challenged the Secretary of State’s ruling in court and the case was ultimately dropped

Haynes did not respond to several requests for comment.

Of the Wyoming residents listed as Oath Keepers members, nine are identified as veterans and five are affiliated with law enforcement. 

— Andrew Graham contributed to this report.

Cooper McKim

Cooper McKim is a freelance journalist who most recently served as Wyoming Public Radio’s Energy & Natural Resources Reporter. Before Wyoming, he worked for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts...

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  1. As a Us army veteran I am deeply disappointed by the “Oath Breakers… military and police INSURRECTIONISTS” who have been radicalized by Trump and the fake news media. We need a counter group (I.e., veterans for true Democracy) is there something like that? If not let’s start one. Oath keepers, the KKK, proud boys , etc. Need to be designated as DOMESTIC TERRORIST GROUPS.

  2. Hope one and all had a nice Thanksgiving. As the days wind down for us all to be with loved ones this Christmas, please keep in mind that all of us have reasons to believe the things we do. Just as we all see the world in our own way… The story behind these people is complicated. The media and the Feds have done their best to paint a picture with a dark brush. The reality is more nuanced and there are agents of certain organizations infiltrated into these groups who intentionally create bad situations.
    That said, I agree with Groucho. I would never join a club that would have me as a member. Those who had the courage to take an oath to the Constitution and honestly mean it should be commended. For many an oath means nothing, as the last 11 months has made clear. Be conscious of your bias and be respectful of the differences that we once could overlook. The next year will be very difficult and we will all learn we were wrong about something. Be safe and have a Merry Christmas!

  3. Why does the article state the following? “The group’s name refers to the oath taken by military and police to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.” Why is the article (author) only singling out military and police as only those who take the oath? The answer is clear but lends the article to be misleading.

    It is the similar oath taken by the President of the United States, Vice-President of the U.S., Every member of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, Political appointees, the Governor of every state, citizens entering many differing levels of public services, including those entering police and military services, etc. Some words are changed to reflect the office or employment to which they are entering as the words are not specified in the constitution, but the core oath remains the same. “to support and defend the U.S. Constitution”. Example: President of the U.S.: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    So to single out only two of multitudes of offices and varying levels of employments of public service is not accurately reflecting the scope of the oath as it is applied in our constitutional republic.

  4. Bruce Lawson. Perhaps you need to know what the current BLM stands for. I agree the governmental agency, Bureau of Land Management is destroying our rangelands. I was referring to Black Life’s Matter, the so called pro black group which even most people of color don’t agree with. Look at most of the photos from their rioting and you see mostly white females.
    Save your hate mail. I won’t see it anyway!

  5. All Wyo citizens , male & female under 70 are constitutionally, THE MILITIA. Thence, the lefties catagorise everyone as radical right wingers. Get a clue! Patriots are simply literate. Those who cannot or will not read the constitutions are illiterates…, if not outright deliberate punk criminals. Keep poking the bear!

    1. Ha ha unless they are forbidden to carry a gun because they are not “well regulated”. I would posit that republicans that believe the Big Lie are not well regulated and should be forbidden to be in the Wyoming Militia.

      No one is accusing the Wyoming Militia of being subversive right wing organization bent on over throwing the Republic, but we are accusing the Oath Breakers of those actions. If you don’t like the company you keep then disavow it.

      PS Poking the Bear is a legitimate 1st Amendment right, but apparently you are implying that makes one a punk criminal…..Are you sure you read these so called constitutions you speak of?

      1. 6 comments on this article. Hmmmm. Must be like wearing masks, some people don’t have to follow rules because of their political party.
        It would be nice if 1 comment was truthful and constructive.
        Maybe a New Year’s Resolution is in order.
        There is a lot to work on here. Baby steps.

  6. I think this rhetoric about oath keepers being antigovernmental is good propaganda but unfounded. I checked them out but did not join the group. From what I saw was an extreme right group of patriots who love our country and the principles for which it stands. Unfortunately, if this group formed in the 1950s or 60s, it would have been widely received. It is in keeping with former President Ronald Reagan who responded to the Democratic party’s challenge that he left them when running as Republican for President. He said no he had not left the Democratic Party, it left him. Today, we see deeper and deeper roots of socialism and Marxism both inside, supported, and promoted by the current Democratic party. As long as this trend continues, I believe we will see more and more groups like this emerge. As for me, I continue to pray for our country and our leaders, be involved and support groups such as the Albany County Conservatives and follow the due process of rule by law. Just to be clear “I like Ike!”

    1. I would posit that you are fed the line that Democrats want communism or socialism but that is not true. What everyone should want is good social programs when it becomes apparent that those programs benefit all of society. I would posit our Military budget far exceeds what is required but not a peep about that even though Ike warned about the very situation we have today in his farewell address.

      I like Ike but he would get primaried in today’s environment by the very same people that say they are sane conservatives…..PS I looked up the Albany County Conservatives Facebook page and I can find no intelligent discourse in the manner of Dwight David Eisenhower, so maybe you should not smear a great American.

  7. The number of active and honorably discharged or retired military members who find this group of misguided professed Constitutionalists pretending to keep any oath to the Constitution or to the people of this nation are in the millions. They are tired of the shame they bring to those whose service and belief in our Constitution, Federal and State, is real. A fringe group, cult minded, with lies and guns as their mantra should be denied any rights, lose their service benefits, and be stripped of their “honorable” service designation. As the wife of a deceased Viet Nam Veteran who fought a horrific war with basically the same outcome as Afghanistan, I cannot support the insurection and lies they continue to support and spread. This nation can change and be inclusive and have the future we see and desire in the words and promise of our Constitution. The answer to this is to stop political interference, participate in the political process with integrity and honesty and recognize that we should elect people not parties and that it is time for term limits and the depoliticizion of the judicial system and the understanding that a President is elected by the people do lead and guide the nation. Self interested, authoritarian, narcissists are not leaders nor are they for the welfare of an entire nation. Remove these cult members from the conversation. They do not represent the Republic or our democracy.

    1. Sheryl you are right on! May your thoughts and this statement become public knowledge! We would be moving in the correct direction if all could see as clearly as you!

  8. Why would anyone, an author of this article no less quote anything from the Southern Poverty Law Center? According to SPLC (as sole arbitrator) has defined any group who supports the Constitution, or Christian values as a right wing hate group. The SPLC is not what it started out to be in the sixties, but has been taken over by far left ideology back in the 1980’s.
    It now lists 60 conservative and Christian groups as “hate groups” shame on this author for not knowing who the SPLC actually represents, it certainly does not speak for Liberty, Constitution, or Christian values.

    1. Let’s assume the Southern Poverty Law Center is now dominated by left-wing ideologues, which it is not. Try other outlets, such as the Anti-Defamation League or Center for Strategic and Defensive Studies. See what they have to say about Oath Keepers. Oh, hang on! I heard on Fox that both are funded by the Tooth Fairy. Seriously, assuming you care about reality, the Oath Keepers is a vigilante group preoccupied with guns, the Deep State, and a disgraced president. That public personalities like Eathorne and Haynes are drawn to nascent militias tells you something about their mindset. Note to self: never discuss Tooth Fairy with Frank or Taylor.

    2. My thoughts exactly, Brad. The author wants to slander the Oath Keepers by saying they are listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – a very far-left group. Takes all the credibility out of the article.

      1. Facts tend to get in the way of the chrump fan boy narrative.

        As other posters have said. Take the SPLC out of the equation. There are other organizations and groups that classify the “oath” keepers as a fringe hate group.

        Believe in the stolen election lie
        Target those who disagree with them
        Carry guns to intimidate and instigate
        Participated, as a group, with the Jan 6 insurrection

        Seems that the proof of the oath keepers being a bunch of gullible traitors is readily available. Why do the chrump lemmings not want to admit it?

  9. I hope that WyoFile will soon release the all the names of the 200 Wyoming citizens that belong to this paramilitary group.

    And Candy Hamaker needs to get her facts straight – BLM is destroying our rangelands and getting away with it, not our cities!

    1. Bruce Lawson

      The file with Wyoming names can be downloaded on the above mentioned website:

      https://ddosecrets.com/wiki/Oath_Keepers

      (see download links on right side of their webpage)

      It’s a big file.

      As for Pendergraft saying he didn’t want to talk because it would end up “twisted” on WyoFile, he’s probably correct. Unknown if the twisting would come from Pendergraft himself, online comments, or WyoFile’s reporting but twisting quotes in the worst possible way is SOP these days.

  10. How does belonging to a group who’s goal is to uphold their oath to protect and defend the constitution of the U.S.. And why aren’t antifa and BLM being charged and what about all those involved in the fake Russian collusion hoax which was infact an attempted coup on the president. I though the laws applied to everyone. Guess not!

    1. Stephen the rioters in Portland have been charged and you might want to read this post about how those charges compare to the right wing insurrectionists that have been charged for their actions leading up to the attempted coup encouraged by a President that cared about himself and not the Constitution.

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/07/22/darkened-plazas-with-throngs-of-people-the-government-debunks-the-portland-january-6-comparisons/

      Fake Collusion – Paul Manafort, Donald Trumps campaign manager, gave voter information to a known Russian agent prior to his election. Trump hired Bill Barr to obstruct the Mueller Investigation, which occurred and then, at the end of his Presidency, pardoned those involved in that collusion. Bannon, Manafort and Flynn. You know who he did not pardon? The gullible Fox News/Limbaugh loving shlubs that did his bidding on January 6th. You have been conned my man.

      https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/11/23/the-disinformation-that-got-told-michael-cohen-was-in-fact-hiding-secret-communications-with-the-kremlin/

  11. I find it funny that we can never find a list of organized ANTIFA members but seemingly every white supremacyst group is on a list and has ties to law enforcement, military or to the tentacles of government. Seemingly ANTIFA is like a unicorn as they never win elections and choose not to over throw government, but are so powerful, with the aid of George Soros, that they are hidden and protected.

    The threat to our Republic is coming from these groups with the active support of right wing media while the left has no support from any group except I guess a truth telling reporter that gets smeared as liberal academic…..

    We are losing the republic and the Republican Party is actively making it happen.

    1. where is the southern poverty law center on antifa and blm on this one?. two groups who seem to be stirring the pot.

    2. Greg Hunter: You won’t find a list of Antifa members because it doesn’t exist. Antifa is not an organization with an administrative or functional structure (definition of an organization from Miriam-Webster dictionary). There is no leadership, no chain of command, no membership dues, no membership cards and no official newsletter. There are social media groups in certain cities used to communicate information about certain gatherings, so you could say that certain gatherings are communicated through posts beneficial to the movement. These are just a bunch of people against fascism. Believe what you will but I seriously doubt that George Soros would fund any group without proof of support for a tax write off. Because it isn’t a national organization with membership lists how do you suggest the FBI investigate them, start with the letter A and investigate the entire country? How do you know whether or not an Anti-fascist has ever lost an election? You are probably correct in saying they choose not to overthrow the government. Probably because it isn’t currently a fascist government.

  12. With the revelations coming out of the January 6th Commission it’s clear this group and other fascists style groups tried in the name of Trump to overthrow the government of the United States through a coup and insurrection. This group is now apart of a civil south to recover the millions in both damages and injuries caused during this insurrection. Hope they have deep pockets because their going to, loose!

  13. As a former Wyoming resident I find it interesting that even in The Cowboy State, another young liberal reporter from academia with few credentials has a forum to continue with yet another discredited conspiracy theory. The subject, “The Oath Keepers”, fits the liberal left narrative in every way. I would say, “hogwash”, to use an old time description.

    1. Yes, it IS disturbing to see this kind of thing in a state that is considered conservative, rational and fair. I’ve been seeing a lot more of this since the Cheney kerfluffle popped up, as out-of-staters have rushed in to try to discredit those who want her gone, attack her opposition and flood some of the media with this kind of blatantly biased “reporting”.

  14. Oathkeepers are not a problem. The real problem are the oathbreakers who run the government and their willing accomplices in the press, trying to villify people
    who want the government to follow the Constitution, which would limit the power of government.

    1. Spoken like an Oathkeeper…..except the word is projection as they are actually Oathbreakers. They claim they support the Constitution but actively tried to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power to the duly elected President Joe Biden. I guess I can understand that you do not understand the Constitution when these so called Patriots like yourself believe the Big Lie that the election was stolen.

      Democrats want good governance and are operating within the Constitution even when Republicans are not. My God the filibuster does not apply to the SCOTUS nominees even when the President did not win the popular vote is ludicrous and divides the country, yet you Oathbreakers whine like you lost.

      1. Don’t know how you can say Democrats are operating under the Constitution when Biden and the Congress are blatantly ignoring it. Unconstitutional mandates, open borders, etc. Come on man!

  15. Ray epps was/is a leader of the oath keepers that was featured in an opening video of the J6 inquisition leading the charge up to the capitol. He was also seen in the presence of john sullivan, BLM/antifa leader, from SLC egging on Trump supporters to storm the capitol. Yet surprisingly he has never been arrested, and the FBI took him off of their J6 most wanted list.

    So who is ray epps?

    1. Ray Epps, identified by many as an FBI informant and/or agitator, is one of those using the name Oath Keepers as part of a massive disinformation campaign to discredit conservatives who are willing to openly commit to continuing to honor the oaths they took when they joined the military to protect and defend this country.

  16. How terrible!!! People taking an oath to protect the constitution; BLM destroying cities and getting away with it!

  17. I have no knowledge of the Oath Keepers, but I do support people’s right to peacefully disagree with the government. Wyofile and SPLC are both biased organizations that don’t have credibility as objective institutions.

    1. Dud Trollman no knowledge? Whiney, dim ,a bad neighbor! Since when in US history has insurrection and the a planned coup been tolerated or funded openly. A group whose sole purpose is anti US government is a menace to our society. Who could imagine that this type of person would be the head of the Wyoming GOP? Sad.. Not a fan.. Loser… A political party based on Racism, Lies and Corruption . Obviously, not my father’s GOP.. Eike rolled over in his grave..

      1. Bill:

        Judd may know of the Oathkeepers but not have first-hand knowledge of their intentions, overall ideology, or motivations outside of what he hears from the media landscape which often misrepresents others in the worst possible light, and often unfairly. They can paint with a broad stroke and tarnish everyone because it’s easier than digging deeper. Since Judd clearly stated he was in favor of the “people’s right to peacefully disagree with the government”, I find your reaction to be a perfect example of why Judd might not trust the media filter: quick to judge, too lazy to dig deeper.

        As someone who has heard from Judd for decades (he used to run a Jackson newspaper), I can assure you that Judd will engage in a civil discussion with an honest heartfelt opinion. Too many will not.

        Lastly, our founding fathers certainly had no problem overthrowing the governing shackles, same with the slaves. One day, history may repeat itself if the governing class isn’t paying attention to the governed. Seems like that is what got Trump elected. It might be in your interest to find out what really motivates Wyoming citizens to join the Oathkeepers before passing them all off as threats to our way of life.

    1. Really. We need to know who does, and does not, believe in and commit to Constitutional governance. Now that some have been targeted because they once joined a group based on ongoing commitment to the oaths they took in the military, it is easier to identify them.

      Just remember that many of us consider that kind of lifelong commitment to the ideals and principles of Constitutional governance the kind of belief system we want in our legislatures and executive branches.

  18. Let’s start out with that photo of Eathorne. Is he big buckle, cowboy hat, no cattle type? I don’t honestly know. Pope John Paul II seems to be giving him his blessing but I doubt that. Taylor Haynes did surgery on my son many years ago and he did an excellent job, no complaints. He should keep to his profession but I don’t dismiss anyone who wants to be politically involved. In 2020 there were protests about George Floyd in Wyoming and we had all these guys hanging about with AK47s and AR15s, what was that all about? I defiantly had a hard time figuring that out. At last, we have President Biden who was elected in line with the Constitution of the United States so in my way of thinking the Oath Keepers should be all for that.

    1. Rock McEwen, those are Frank’s working clothes, probably his go-to-town ones if they’re clean. He is who he professes to be and has every right to defend the U.S. Constitution, as we all should be doing. Also, each citizen has a right to carry a firearm in this country and certainly in Wyoming, so if they do so to keep protests peaceful, so be it!

    2. Rock McEwen, Frank is exactly who you see him to be: buckle, hat and very good cattle on a multi-generational family ranch. He (along with the rest of us as Wyoming citizens) has a responsibility to do what he can to uphold the U. S. Constitution. Each of us who is a U. S. Citizen has a right to carry a firearm. If we carry to protect and keep protests peaceful, then so be it … more power to those who do the same!

      1. How times have changed. It used to be that budding politicians would cite their membership in the Rotary or Farm Bureau or whatever. Now they want to belong to armed paramilitary organizations supporting insurrection and overthrow of a constitutionally elected President. It’s confusing. What oath are the Oath Keepers talking about?

      2. Since when have self appointed vigilantes been responsible for “keeping protests peaceful?” Misplaced sense of power and entitlement I say. Not support of law enforcement, but usurpers thereof.

      3. So you won’t object if a bunch of armed black guys show up to keep the peace at a Unite the Right or MAGARAT rally?

        If you carry a gun, you are an imminent threat to those around you.