Skip Richards’ Years of Contact with Christian Patriot Militias
(c) 1996 by Paul de Armond
March 23, 1994 — Skip Richards and CLUE hosted Wise Use leader Chuck Cushman at the Rome Grange on the Mt. Baker Highway, approximately 10 miles east of Bellingham, Washington. The meeting was run by Mr. Richards. Cushman’s purpose was to organize support for a protest at a University of Washington conference, “Nature Has No Borders,” on proposed administrative changes in the National Forests and National Parks in the North Cascades region.
The first speaker at the meeting was Ben Hinkle, who promoted the “Ultimatum Resolution,” a Christian Patriot proposal to abolish the federal government. At this same meeting, Hinkle distributed copies of John Trochmann’s Militia of Montana flyer, “Executive Orders for the New World Order.” On Hinkle’s copies, all reference to the Militia of Montana has been replaced with the name of his Populist Party splinter group, Citizens for Liberty.
Cushman’s presentation focussed on the impending seizure of lands by an international group which included the United States and Canadian governments and environmentalists — whom Mr. Cushman terms “preservationists.” Cushman’s style of speaking suggested that the seizure would be forcible and would involve the destruction of local homes.
(Sources: video of the meeting is available from the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (360) 671-6690. Copies of the literature distributed at the meeting are available from the Public Good Project (360) 734-6642 and are also reproduced in the Whatcom Environmental Council’s 1995 report, Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound. Copies may be purchased by calling the Whatcom Environmental Council (360) 733-8242 or the main branch of the Bellingham Public Library has copies in the Local History section.)
October 22, 1994 — Richards and CLUE host Ben Sams, Douglas J. Smith, Don Kehoe, Robert Crittenden, Homer J. Bakker and David Montgomery at a meeting at the Laurel Grange on the Guide Meridian between Bellingham and Lynden, Washington. The group called itself The Committee for Environmental Justice, “an ad hoc citizen group formed to alert the public about trends to seriously impact the nature of private property rights.” The title of their meetings was “Nature Has No Borders.” The handbills for the state-wide tour stated that “North Cascades International Ecosystem boundaries will be controlled by electronic fortifications and supervised by the CIA.” The contacts for Whatcom County were given as Shirley Hardy and Kathy Sutter, CLUE president.
Standing next to a large map of the North Cascades, prominently marked “UN TERR,” Skip Richards opened the meeting with the following words:
“Basically, I’m here today because I was asked, our organization [CLUE] was asked to help host an event that is sponsored by, ah, folks, um, who will be up here identifying themselves shortly. And the program today is to bring you a group of speakers who will be addressing the issue o Cascades International Park and, again, some related issues.
“And basically, you can look at it in terms of two things. One are the facts relating to the park itself, the description of it. You can see maps and things here. And then the other thing is the theories and perspectives on what the park means and who’s and what’s behind it and that sort of thing.”
The speakers at the meetings presented a variety of conspiracy theories about a possible United Nations takeover of Washington state and the need for citizens to prepare for this assault. In his introduction, Richards pointed out the large amount of literature available. Amongst it was a substantial amount of Christian Patriot literature, including some from the Militia of Montana.
The Committee for Environmental Justice was composed primarily of Wise Use activists from the Snohomish County Property Rights Alliance (SNOCO PRA), an organization which had actively promoted militia organizing since April, 1994. In the Fall of 1994, the group went on a tour of the North Cascade region with meetings in Arlington, Sultan, Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Wenatchee and Omak. This is the same region toured by Chuck Cushman the preceeding winter and in many cases, the same local Wise Use groups sponsored both sets of meetings. Likewise, both tours presented conspiracy theories about possible seizure of lands in the region and both tours called on citizens to rise up and prepare for possible violence.
Ben Sams is a Christian Patriot who participated in John Trochmann’s pre-militia group, United Citizens for Justice, a “support group” for Randy Weaver. Both Mr. Sams and his wife Cynthia filed “sovereign citizen” papers with the Snohomish County Auditor (Sam’s affidavit can be found in Snohomish Recorder’s file 92-08140340, Vol. 2610 Page 41.) These papers show that the Sams’ reject their U.S. citizenship and claim a higher legal status based on their membership in the White race. (For more information about Snohomish militia activity, call The Coalition for Human Dignity (206) 233-9775. )
Douglas J. Smith is an attorney in Edmonds, Washington. He has served as attorney for SNOCO PRA in litigation with Snohomish County. At the Laurel Grange meeting, Mr. Smith spoke about the Council on Foreign Relations, a policy studies group in New York City which many right-wing extremists believe is the center of an international conspiracy to impose a “one-world government.” Mr. Smith is a candidate in the 1996 election for Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, position 3.
Don Kehoe is a landscaper living in Monroe, Washington. In addition to his participation in SNOCO PRA, Mr. Kehoe also runs his own organization called “Blowing in the Wind,” which promotes militias and a variety of conspiracy theories involving Waco, environmentalism, “electronic monitoring” and the United Nations.
Robert Crittenden is a marine biologist who lives in Olympia, Washington. He promotes a theory that a conspiracy is responsible for the decline of the salmon population and that the depletion of salmon stocks will enable Indian tribes to invoke the United Nations Indigenous Peoples accord to justify an invasion by the United Nations which will expell all the white people from western Washington.
Homer J. Bakker has stated that he is a former Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy. He and his organization, Public Information Network, distributed Militia of Montana literature at meetings throughout Western Washington in 1994. After The Committee of Environmental Justice gathered unfavorable press coverage, Mr. Bakker severed his ties with the other members and struck off on his own.
David Montgomery is the former treasurer of the Washington chapter of Rev. Sun Myong Moon’s American Freedom Coalition (AFC), the organization which created Wise Use. Ron Arnold, the major strategist of Wise Use, was the registered agent of the AFC, having previously served with Rev. Moon’s CAUSA and World Press Association organizations. Mr. Montgomery has been active in militia organizing in Snohomish and Whatcom counties, and unsuccessfully campaigned for 1994 Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District under the slogans “Gun Rights” and “Property Rights.”
Another notable person present at the meeting was James Gutschmidt, a Mercer Island resident who was very active in Christian Patriot “common law” activities, including filing bogus liens against the Central Puget Sound Growth Management hearings board and “common law” court proceedings. One of Mr. Gutschmidt’s fellow “common law” court participants was Tracy Brown, (a/k/a William Smith, William Stanton), who was later arrested by the FBI at a bomb-making class in Bellingham on July 27, 1996. The “common law” literature present at this meeting included many pages xeroxed from an old law dictionary featuring the definitions of “sovereign,” “treason,” and “misprision” (the crime of concealing knowledge of treason or felony.) According to eye witness Jay Taber, at one point the participants at the meeting discussed violent attacks on judges and other public officials.
Also distributed at the meeting was a flyer with clippings from the September issue of the Christian Patriot tax-resistance newspaper, The Americans Bulletin, headlined “RENO COMPILES LIST OF PATRIOTS,” and from the September 19, 1994 issue of the anti-Semitic Spotlight newspaper, showing a map of the United States with Idaho, Montana, and most of the south-eastern states highlighted. The map was captioned, “States singled out by Attorney General Janet Reno for ‘special attention’ are indicated.” In the lower left hand corner of the sheet, a citation from Washington law, (RCW 9.81.082 Membership in subversive organization described) was underscored with the question, “Are we on the list?” This sheet alone clearly establishes the presence of racist militia organizers at the Laurel Grange meeting. The same flyer was also distributed at several militia meetings in the Puget Sound region over the next four months.
(Sources: Videotape of Skip Richards was provided by the Northwest Eco system Alliance. Literature from the meeting is in the files at the Public Good Project. The meeting was also videotaped by Bellingham’s KVOS TV-12 cameraman Steve Carey (360) 671-1212 and Vidcom Productions (360) 647 1776. The Clearinghouse for Environmental Advocacy and Research (202) 667 6982, Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment (206) 233-9136 and Coalition for Human Dignity (206) 233-9775 can provide a wealth of background on Wise Use and Militias.)
May 19, 1995 — Skip Richards’ next appearance at a militia organizing meeting removed any questions regarding his knowledge of Patriot activities. The meeting was sponsored by Ben Hinkle’s Citizen’s for Liberty and featured Whatcom County Sheriff Dale Brandland as the guest speaker. Militia organizing literature was brought to the meeting by Hinkle. The most blatant example was Jack McLamb’s Aid and Abet police newsletters. One issue prominently features a drawing of a man in paramilitary gear who is armed with a machine gun and a grenade while carrying a knife in his teeth. The and is headlined, “NOW IS THE TIME FOR MILITIAS.” Officer Jack McLamb (Ret) is a former Phoenix policeman who has been active in Christian Patriot circles and most recently appeared in Washington State with John Trochmann to denounce the arrest of Washington State Militia members. His newsletter is aimed at recruiting law enforcement officers into the Christian Patriot movement. Hinkle has stated that he is distributing hundreds of copies of Aid and Abet to police throughout Whatcom County.
Richards appeared at the meeting to state his support for Citizens for Liberty following the publication of articles in the Bellingham Herald about Ben Hinkle and his claim that the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of federal agents. Richards said,
“First of all, I don’t need to promote my own activities here, but as a result of some of the slandering you folks have undergone, I caught the [Bellingham] Herald this evening. I was unaware that it [Richard’s Op-Ed column on land use policy] was going to printed in the Herald… it did come out this evening. I’ve brought copies of it. It was printed more or less intact. It may not reflect you views, it only reflects mine.”
Richards then described his displeasure with the county council and staff over SEPA procedures and invited the people at Citizens for Liberty to a “set-to” between his supporters and County staff at an upcoming Whatcom County Council meeting. He then stated that he wanted to see the County Council step in to the SEPA process and “hold their own on this thing.” Richards then continued with a remarkably concise statement of Christian Patriot anti government sentiment:
“They have every right to do that, a statutory right to do that, according the, uh. There are no rights granted by statute. Which is something, it always frightens me when I say ‘government.’ Government has no rights, only people have rights. Government has authority. At any rate, you all know that. But, but, this may open up and be discussed… It would be a good time to ask the council to step in, rather than let these tiny development officials, our own version of the ‘jack-booted thugs,’ do and uh, rush and violate the laws that they are supposed to be upholding.”
Richard’s use of the phrase “jack-booted thugs” is a reference to former President George Bush’s resignation from the National Rifle Association for their use of the same words in a fund-raising letter. After a man from Skagit County complained about “feeling like Custer” at land use hearings, Richards answered,
“It used to be that way here in Whatcom County but things changed, now, thanks to some of the people in this room. And we’re going to keep changing as long as that expresses the will of the majority and I appreciate your comments and I’ll urge you to attend if you have the interest and the time. Thank you.”
The main topic of the meeting has been covered elsewhere in a Public Good report. What is significant is that Richards went to Citizens for Liberty seeking support for his “set-to” with County planning staff and that his expression of anti government sentiment would be so closely in accord with theirs. In his closing comments, he pointed to his long-standing collaboration with members of Citizens for Liberty in political activity.
Notably present at this meeting were Ben Hinkle, “chairman” of Citizens for Liberty. Hinkle shared the chair of the meeting with Dr. Roy Giles, a CLUE member and sponsor of the Get a C.L.U.E. newsletter. At one point in the meeting, Mr. Hinkle stated that he had recently changed his phone number due to the number of calls from the media in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. He then designated two individuals who would serve as public contacts for himself: Harry Nagel and Fred B. Fisher. Nagel continues to accompany Hinkle in his public role, but Fisher is currently in federal custody on charges of conspiracy and violation of explosives laws for his alleged role in the Washington State Militia.
(An audio recording of this meeting is available from the Public Good Project (206) 734-6642. Whatcom County Undersheriff Dave Waring also recorded the meeting.)
August 16, 1996 — Skip Richards appeared as the guest speaker at Citizens for Liberty. Asked at the beginning of the meeting if he was appearing as a candidate for public office, Richard’s tersely replied, “I was invited.” Prior to introducing Richards, Ben Hinkle noted the low turnout (less than ten people attended, including this writer and Richards) and noted that people might be afraid to attend due to the recent arrests of Washington State Militia members John Pitner, Fred Fisher, Marlin Mack and Gary Kuehnoel.
Richards stated that he was “in sympathy with the Second Amendment and not affiliated with Citizens for Liberty.” In his introduction, Mr. Hinkle described Richards as “a very strong candidate for property rights and I think that he is a very good spokesman for our views.”
To Mr. Richards’ chagrin, it turned out that none of the members of Citizens for Liberty resided in the 40th Legislative district. After describing his background, Richards began to state his political principles:
“Another thing that is obvious to me is that we need to change the entire philosophy and practice of government — because right now you reward failure and punish success. And this sort of Marxist idea that people who are successful should be punished because they have too much and that those who are less successful, it’s no fault of their own. This is a lot of nonsense. You’ve played that game for 40 or 50 years and it’s done nothing but made things worse. And we clearly need to change that.”
After describing how he did not like the process of political campaigning, Mr. Richards said:
“But the plus side is that you get to stand up and tell the truth. And I like to do that. And I look forward to the opportunity for doing so from the little box to live in called ‘state senator,’ which will give me some credibility. Whatever happens during the session, I don’t have a lot of high hopes for it, particularly. …afterwards, I can take my case to all the people and educate them all over the state …I think that’s why I’m doing this, is for the opportunity to have that, that title and take that forward and communicate with people, presumably it’s easy to become a guest speaker at every little breakfast, Kiwanis, and people want to meet and talk you show up and you make your case and you try to explain things to people. …We’re all kind of hunkered down in our various little boxes and shelling each other and we’re not getting very far. And I think that if getting past this campaign is successful, I’ll be in position to try to loosen some of that up and make some real progress. Within the context of Constitutional principles and traditional values. Which certainly a society that is not based on both of those is not one that I want to live in. Obviously, we’re drifting away from both of those and that’s the story.”
(Source: an audio recording of this meeting is available from the Public Good Project (206) 734-6642.)