They offered up knowledge of deep sea diving, improvised explosives handling, security planning, police tactics, even proofreading.

They all joined Oath Keepers at one point or another, appearing on a list of 215 people who hail from Maine and once paid membership dues to a group that is under intense scrutiny for its alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The list of people from Maine – which included their phone numbers, skills and the dates they joined – was provided to the Portland Press Herald by the Anti-Defamation League, which last week released a national report examining the group’s membership rolls and publicly naming elected officials who had apparently joined.

The ADL report was based on hacked data stolen by an activist group, Distributed Denial of Secrets, which claims to verify what it steals before releasing the findings in the interest of public transparency. The ADL granted the Press Herald access to the list on the condition the newspaper not publish it, fearing that the people named would become targets of harassment or violence.

The Oath Keepers’ founder, E. Stewart Rhodes, is expected to go on trial this month in Washington, D.C., on a litany of felony charges, including seditious conspiracy, for his alleged role in planning the Capitol attack.

But the Maine list offers no such legal drama – none of the handful of Maine residents facing charges for entering the Capitol appears to have been a member. Rather, the data shows a slow trickle of local interest that began in 2009, the year Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers, that eventually spread to all corners of the state. Signups peaked in 2013, when 43 people were added to the list; the latest dated entry was in 2018. About a quarter of the membership data is undated.


On the list are two current elected officials – a town councilor from Gorham and a commissioner in Piscataquis County. The ADL identified one current police officer who is a member, but the Press Herald was unable to determine who that person was. There is also no way to know if the list is complete or how out of date it is.

Dozens of listed phone numbers are disconnected, and some people on the rolls have died. One woman said she was widowed in April and had taken over her husband’s phone number. A Google search showed a recent obituary for another former member, who was a police officer.

A Press Herald reporter called about 80 of the one-time members, and six responded to a request for an interview. Each confirmed they had been members at one time, but said that they have since distanced themselves from the group.

Mike Coleman, 62, a former town councilor in Old Orchard Beach, said he joined because he appreciated the focus on limiting government to what’s spelled out in the country’s founding documents, but that his involvement was brief.

“I don’t recall ever being at a meeting of the Oath Keepers,” Coleman said. “I don’t know if they even have them. I liked the stated objective.”



Coleman said he was horrified by what happened on Jan. 6, and said he has always rejected notions of political violence. He said he’s the last person to resort to anything but political discourse.

“I’m 62. Taking up arms against the country? I’ve got better things to do. Some day I’m gonna have grandchildren, you know?” Coleman said.

One man, who runs a nonprofit in Lewiston and declined to be named, said he was a military veteran and signed up in 2009 or 2010 out of curiosity, but lost interest “some years ago – that has to be specified,” he said.

“I know very little about them other than what the media put out, and it’s very slanted,” he said. “The individuals, back in those days, weren’t interested in any kind of coup or overthrow, call it whatever, seditious conspiracy. It’s a bunch of malarkey, it’s a bunch of excuses to keep people in jail without due process.”

Another former member, a retired police officer who now works for a town near Bangor, said he joined years ago – he was not sure when – because he connected with the Oath Keepers’ vision that the country needs to return to core ideas from the nation’s founding.

“The things they were stating were things I felt,” the man said. “I don’t think they’re anti-federal government. They are pro-Constitution, pro-government, how it was set up to be, and are (against) changing it, other than by the proper way.”



He said he was a supporter of former President Donald Trump and believes the FBI and the Department of Justice are now on a payback tour targeting Trump allies. He also said what happened on Jan. 6 was not an insurrection and suggested that it may have been an inside job – a conspiracy theory for which there is no proof.

“To me, it was just a rally down the street from the Capitol,” the town employee said. “What it was was a bunch of people who got out of control, and they were coaxed.”

The Oath Keepers also spoke of threats to lawful gun ownership. That’s part of what drew in Dean Harrington, 61, an Army and Air Force veteran.

“There was a fear that certain laws were being passed that were against the Constitution,” Harrington said. “There’s a huge push out there to get rid of the Second Amendment and I think that was the concern at the time.”

Harrington said the government has violated people’s rights before, mentioning the internment of Japanese-Americans during the World War II. He also cited an episode after Hurricane Katrina, when he said police confiscated firearms.


Harrington, who no longer lives in Maine, said he fell out of touch with the group years ago. He thought the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a “travesty and never should have happened,” he said.

Other members said they joined as casual supporters of military personnel and police, but soon found the Oath Keepers’ rhetoric too extreme, the group’s worldview skewed toward conspiracy.

Jeff Skeffington joined nearly 15 years ago, he said, to support the military and police. He said he never attended meetings or had close contact with other members, but was a part of the online community.


“Somewhere along the lines their rhetoric changed dramatically. It was like, holy crap, these guys are nuts,” said Skeffington, 50, who now lives in upstate New York and works in IT. “Overnight their rhetoric changed, very alt-right anti-governmental survivalist nut-job stuff. It was like, ‘I don’t know who you are now.'”

Skeffington said he disengaged and did not renew his membership, but cannot recall how long he was a member, or whether it was for more than a year.


“The way they were coming off, I felt like it was only a matter of time before you’d see their name associated with something like Jan. 6, or some other thing.”

A 31-year-old man from Woodstock, who declined to be named, said he joined when he was 18, when he thought he knew everything about the world, living on his own for the first time, and was flirting with conspiracy-based media, including Alex Jones’ InfoWars. The Woodstock resident said he had all but forgotten about the Oath Keepers, but was reminded when prosecutors linked members to Jan. 6. He said his one-time affiliation doesn’t mean he’s a believer.

“I’m glad I didn’t have anything to do with them, because that’s not something I’d ever do,” he said. “They huffed the conspiracy theories way too much.”

“They went from the Constitution, we’re going to uphold it no matter what, to anything that Trump does, we’re going to follow him. And that’s dangerous. That’s extremely dangerous. I don’t swear an oath to no man.”

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