By Peter Cameron, THE BADGER PROJECT
The names of at least three active police officers in the Milwaukee area are on a leaked membership list for the far-right, anti-government group the Oath Keepers, an investigation by The Badger Project found.
Two of the officers — Cory Dale Fuller and Ryan T. Bowe — work for the Bayside Police Department just a few miles north of the city of Milwaukee.
A third, David J. Larscheidt, is a 22-year veteran in the Milwaukee Police Department.
The note, “I am actively on street patrol and am a Field Training Officer as well,” appears next to Larscheidt’s name on the list.
The list also includes members’ personal information such as home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. The Badger Project is declining to publish that material. It is unclear if the list includes the dates members joined.
None of the officers responded to multiple messages seeking comment.
Bayside Police Chief Tom Liebenthal also did not respond to email and voicemail messages seeking comment.
The Bayside Police Department hired Bowe in 2006 and Fuller in 2012, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Larscheidt has been employed by the Milwaukee Police Department since 2001.
When The Badger Project sent an email to the Milwaukee Police Department inquiring about Larscheidt, the department’s Public Information Officer Sgt. Efrain Cornejo responded that the message was the first notice his agency received about the officer’s membership in Oath Keepers.
“Thank you for the information,” Cornejo wrote in an email. “The Milwaukee Police Department was not aware and is currently looking into this matter for any violations of our code of conduct. MPD is committed to working with our community to build sustainable healthy neighborhoods free of crime and maintained by positive relationships.”
More than 38,000 people across the United States are listed on the Oath Keepers membership roll, which The Badger Project obtained from the journalism organization Distributed Denial of Secrets. DDoSecrets calls itself “a publisher and archive for data leaked in the public interest.”
The organization received the list from an anonymous source, presumably through a hack of Oath Keepers’ records, DDoSecrets Editor-in-Chief Lorax Horne said.
A 2022 investigation by the Anti-Defamation League found at least 600 names on the list were elected officials, law enforcement officers, military members and first responders, including six elected officials in Wisconsin.
One of those Wisconsin officials, Gary Halverson, resigned from the Madison City Council after the report, citing threats and vandalization of his home. When the ADL investigation revealed his membership, Halverson told local news outlets he did not properly vet the Oath Keepers and that he quit shortly after joining.
Becoming a member of the Oath Keepers generally means that you agree with “their idea that a large part of the United States government is a threat,” said Benjamin Linzy, a program coordinator for the collaborative academic project Humanities Without Walls, who researches domestic right-wing terrorist movements. “That the domestic governance of the nation has taken a turn towards being considered a domestic enemy.”
The idea that police officers have become members of Oath Keepers is “very disturbing,” said Maria Haberfield, chair of the Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. A former counter-terrorism military officer and police officer in Israel, Haberfeld has taught police ethics to active officers for more than 20 years.
“The Oath Keepers, as far as I’m concerned, are a terrorist organization,” Haberfeld said. “I’m all for freedom of speech, but it should not apply to a profession that has so much power over a community they police. They are supposed to generate trust and confidence and not fear.”
In November, Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, and Kelly Meggs, leader of its Florida chapter, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
A trio of other defendants — Thomas Caldwell, Kenneth Harrelson and Jessica Watkins — all leaders and associates of the Oath Keepers, also were found guilty of related charges.
The organization, now known as “Oath Keepers USA,” says its mission is to “honor our Oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” according to its website.
Oath Keepers USA also states that it is a “distinct and separate legal entity” from the previous “Oath Keepers” group.
Oath Keepers USA also says on its website that “we believe that America is being intentionally forced down the wrong path by corrupt tyrants.”
Before releasing the Oath Keepers data to The Badger Project, DDoSecrets said it verified that The Badger Project is “a journalist or other sort of public researcher.” To obtain the data, The Badger Project agreed to withhold sharing personal information from the dataset, including mailing addresses and other personal information of those who signed up for the Oathkeepers. But The Badger Project, like most news outlets, does not publish personal information like home addresses unless it is in the public interest to do so.