Connect with us


Human rights group blasts Cascade County’s Jesse Slaughter for being a ‘constitutional sheriff’



Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter and Undersheriff Cory Reeves at the Cascade County Sheriff's Department, February 12, 2019.

The Montana Human Rights Action Network has published a report accusing Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter of siding with far-right organizations with roots in anti-government militia, racism and anti-Semitism.

The report is called “Slaughtering the Constitution: Cascade County Sheriff Embraces Sheriff Supremacy.” MHRAN held a Facebook webinar in the same vein on Tuesday entitled, “Militia Mouthpieces: The Dangers of ‘Constitutional Sheriffs.’”

MHRAN Communications Manager Cherilyn DeVries said the organization dove into the issue at the request of concerned citizens.

Slaughter has publicly identified himself as a “constitutional sheriff” multiple times, including before the legislature, at candidate forums and on broadcasts by Montana Gazette Radio (MGR).

Slaughter could not be reached for comment.

In its eight-page report, MHRAN criticizes him for appearing on MGR alongside figures such as Richard Mack and espousing similar beliefs.

Mack is the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. MHRAN said he was on the board of the Oath Keepers, which are accused of planning the Jan. 6 capitol riots, and he edited a book by Randy Weaver, who engaged in the Ruby Ridge standoff.

Mack is also on record as advocating for people to stockpile gold, silver, food, guns and ammo to protect against the “new world order.”

“The monster is knocking on the door, and we better be ready for it,” Mack said in 2009 on Alex Jones’ Infowars. He said the government is “bought and paid for,” and “There is one person who I believe can stop the new world order. His name is the county sheriff.”

Richard Mack speaks on the rights and responsibilities of county sheriffs to lead their communities from tyranny. "We got to wake up, folks," he said. "The federal government is not our boss"

According to MHRAN, Mack’s central message is one of “sheriff supremacy,” the idea that county sheriffs can refuse to enforce laws and mandates they see as unconstitutional and that “state and federal authorities have no ability to act within a county’s jurisdiction without the sheriff’s permission.”

“The term ‘constitutional sheriff’ has meant purposely to sound really positive and to evoke strong support for the rule of law and this idea that these sheriffs are dedicated to enforcing and maintaining the constitutional rights of all people. It’s meant to have that connotation,” said MHRAN Research Director Travis McAdam.

“The constitutional sheriff is a peaceful and effective solution to the tyranny that’s being forced down our throats today,” Mack said in one interview.

However, MHRAN said the idea of sheriff supremacy comes from a group in the 1970s and ‘80s called Posse Comitatus, or “Power of the County,” which combined racism, anti-Semitism and paramilitary training.

The Posse thought local citizens weren’t supposed to be subject to state and federal authorities and that it was the sheriff’s duty to protect citizens from violations of constitutional rights. MHRAN said the Posse was willing to use force to oppose perceived infringements.

This ideology came to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic when Slaughter criticized a visiting judge for holding a man in contempt of court for refusing to wear a mask, a violation of the governor’s mandate at the time.By law, judges have the power to hold a citizen in contempt for not following courtroom rules. Slaughter complied with the arrest but later apologized to the man.

“We (Slaughter’s office) haven’t enforced any of the mandates throughout the time. We knew they were unconstitutional. We weren’t going to enforce them,” Slaughter told MGR. He added that he worked with the county health officer but told her, “we’re not trampling on people’s constitutional rights because you or the governor made a mandate.”

On MGR, Mack lauded Slaughter for his Law-Related Education (LRE) program that sends deputies to rural schools to teach the Constitution using a program from Hillsdale College. Slaughter also said he gives his staff “promotion points” for taking its free class on the Constitution.

Hillsdale is a private conservative Christian liberal arts college in Michigan. Its news blog has published articles calling the Jan. 6 riots a hoax, condemning gender affirmation for transgender youth and touting the negative impact of the #MeToo movement.

Mack praised Slaughter for his LRE program, of which Slaughter said, “I’m taking a page right out of the Democratic playbook, and I’ll be very, very honest about it…get to them young, indoctrinate them into what the real word of our country is and make them believers.”

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter, left, stands with Sidney pastor Jordan Hall at a Republican event on Sept. 16, 2021. LGBTQ+ individuals expressed concern over this tie, although Slaughter calls Hall an "acquaintance."

Mack is not the only far-right public figure Slaughter has associated with. Sidney pastor Jordan Hall, who has expressed homophobic and transphobic views, has been photographed with Slaughter, who gave him a challenge coin in 2021. Hall founded the Montana Daily Gazette, which broadcasts MGR.

MHRAN’s report brings up these issues and more, including Slaughter’s party switch in June 2021. Slaughter, who was elected as a Democrat, is running for reelection as a Republican.

They pointed out that Slaughter is a self-professed member of Protect America Now, a similar organization to Mack’s CSPOA.

“Together, we are fighting back against the liberal takeover,” said founder Mark Lamb in a video on the organization’s website. “We are calling out the ridiculous lies in the fake news, and we are pushing back against an overreaching government that wants to make America less safe, less secure and less free.”The MHRAN report finishes by saying “Jesse Slaughter’s decision to disregard the rule of law and support a dangerous misinterpretation of the Constitution makes him a reckless leader in law enforcement or any policy-making position.”

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb speaks to Trump supporters before Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally at TYR Tactical in Peoria, Ariz. on Oct. 8, 2020.

Slaughter’s response

Slaughter did not respond to an email request for an interview with the Tribune, but he did answer questions at two candidate forums that were relevant to the issue.

On April 25, he was asked if the sheriff is constitutionally empowered in the state or just an office head.

Slaughter answered that the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention stripped the office of its constitutional status, but he advocates giving that status back.

“Having that in the Constitution would give us more ability to protect our citizens, for example (from) unconstitutional mandates, things of that sort,” he said.

Slaughter said he will fight for the “constitutional sheriff bill” and the “sheriffs first bill.” He said the second bill would make it so the federal government would have to get the sheriff’s permission to conduct operations in the county.

At a May 10 forum, candidates were asked about how they walk the line with enforcement officers surrounding decisions made by the legislative or judicial branches that “law enforcement feels runs counter to current law or the Constitution.”

Slaughter responded that it was “extremely difficult” and referenced the “mandates and restrictions during COVID.”

He said he believes the legislature sets laws, “However, when we start getting into things such as mandates and different things like that, that becomes extremely gray areas and areas of discretion.”

“Areas that are very hard to determine whether that is constitutional, or whether it’s not ‘what type of oppression are we going to put upon our people?’” Slaughter said. “We have to remember that we cannot force our will upon the people. We have to be respectful of what they will tolerate.”

He referenced the situation with the prospective juror who refused to wear a mask and was held in contempt of court.

“It was a challenging issue, and I obviously displayed my displeasure with that judge’s decision, but it doesn’t change what I had to do,” he said.

He said there was “some discretion and pushback the executive branch can handle.”

“However, once it’s…codified into law by the legislature, it becomes law. Or if there is a court order issue, we therefore in the 12 duties of the office of the sheriff have to follow the said order.”

Slaughter was also asked how law enforcement officers should conduct themselves when their morals and beliefs run counter to current laws or laws an officer feels are unconstitutional.

“We’re all allowed to have our personal beliefs. This is America,” Slaughter said, “but we’re not allowed, necessarily, to push our personal beliefs onto other people in those contexts, so I think those things are critical issues.”

Nicole Girten contributed to this article.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply