Meet the Oath Keeper who is trying to unseat Liz Cheney in Wyoming: report

Meet the Oath Keeper who is trying to unseat Liz Cheney in Wyoming: report

Before the Donald Trump era, no one accused Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming of being a centrist — let alone a liberal or a progressive. But the arch-conservative congresswoman and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney has become an unlikely ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, playing a prominent role in Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection. And MAGA Republicans are hoping to oust Rep. Cheney from the U.S. House of Representatives via a GOP congressional primary in Wyoming. One of them is far-right conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump devotee Frank Eathorne, who chairs the Wyoming Republican Party and is a member of the Oath Keepers militia.

In an article published by the Daily Beast on January 17, reporter Sam Brodey explains, “Frank Eathorne, who was revealed in a leak last year to be one of 191 Wyoming-based members of the far-right militia group, was in Washington for protests on January 6. But Eathorne is no rank-and-file fringe crank; he is the sitting chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party. That role has made him one of the more influential Republican officials in the country. Eathorne is presiding over what is perhaps the GOP’s highest-profile primary battle of the 2022 election: the MAGA-fueled campaign to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her unrelenting criticism of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.”

Eathorne, Brodey notes, “has been one of the top figures fighting to defeat Cheney.” But the fact that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been charged with seditious conspiracy along with other members of that militia group complicates things, according to Brodey — who points out that Eathorne “was not mentioned in the federal indictment of Oath Keepers” and “has not been arrested or charged with any offense in relation to January 6.”

“The Oath Keepers indictments mean that Eathorne’s aggressive efforts to keep the pressure on Cheney — in hopes of replacing her with a MAGA acolyte — are going to be complicated by his association with an extremist group facing grave, and rare, federal criminal charges,” Brodey observes. “Aside from his aggressive efforts to bring down Cheney, Eathorne has made national news for amplifying the most fringe of right-wing ideas. Appearing on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in 2021, he expressed interest in the idea of Wyoming seceding from the United States.”

Lindsay Schubiner, program director for the Western States Center, believes it is a “dangerous signal about the state of our democracy” when members of extremist organizations are in major leadership positions in the Republican Party. The Western States Center tracks extremist groups.

Schubiner told the Beast, “It’s troubling to see leaders in institutions that should be engaging in the democratic process not only condone paramilitaries, but officially join them.”

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