WHERE DOES “POSSE COMITATUS” FIT IN?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 22, 2014) — On Sunday, The Post & Email reported that a group of approximately a dozen citizens in Stevens County, WA filed a “1st Amendment criminal complaint” with county chief prosecutor Timothy Rasmussen alleging that 11 public officials did not have legally-mandated oaths of office on file as public records.
After compiling the documents but before publication of the story, The Post & Email contacted Rasmussen via the email address provided on his website for comment.
On Monday morning, we also placed a call to Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen’s office, asking for the media person, and were told that the sheriff himself is the media representative and was out of the office until Tuesday. Our contact information was taken and we were promised a return call then.
Our initial email to Rasmussen reads as follows:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 8:08 AM
To: Tim Rasmussen
Subject: MEDIA REQUEST FOR COMMENT
Hello, I own and operate an electronic newspaper and have received a report of 12 criminal complaints having been filed with your office by a group of citizens who allegedly discovered that the person sitting in the office of Stevens County Sheriff did not timely take an oath of office prior to his assumption of that office on January 1, 2011. The violation of law cited, among others, is that of RCW 29A.60.28(3)(a), which states that an oath of office must be administered within the ten-day period before taking office and repeated if the person was serving out an unfinished term of a predecessor, which reportedly was the case with Kendle Allen.
The citizens claim that no oath of office is on file for Kendle Allen prior to March 12, 2014.
I am also going to contact the sheriff’s office to discover whether or not it can produce proof of an oath of office prior to March 12, 2014.
Which court clerk would have it on file if it was, in fact, administered?
Thank you very much.
to which Rasmussen responded on Monday:
To: Sharon Rondeau
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:12:35 -0700
Subject: RE: MEDIA REQUEST FOR COMMENT
The information you have is incorrect. No charges have been “filed” against Kendle Allen. There is a group of “sovereign citizens” who have demanded that criminal charges be filed, but none have been filed at this time. This office is responsible for the filing of criminal charges, not some group of self-appointed citizens who claim to speak for the county.
Stevens County Prosecuting Attorney
The Post & Email notes that it did not claim to Rasmussen that “charges have been filed against Kendle Allen.” What we said was, “…I own and operate an electronic newspaper and have received a report of 12 criminal complaints having been filed with your office by a group of citizens who allegedly discovered that the person sitting in the office of Stevens County Sheriff did not timely take an oath of office prior to his assumption of that office on January 1, 2011.”
The Post & Email then replied:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Mon 9/22/14 12:16 PM
To: Tim Rasmussen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I see. So is it accurate to say that a group of citizens has asked you to file criminal charges against Kendle Allen?
Did he have an oath of office on file prior to March 12, 2014 that you are aware of?
Do you have an oath of office on file?
Are there active grand juries in the state of Washington?
Regarding “sovereign citizens,” could you provide a definition? I am aware of the term but would like to know how your office might define them.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
Rasmussen then responded with:
It is accurate to say that a several people (13) have demanded that I file criminal charges against Kendle Allen. They have made other similar demands regarding other things they think I should do. They are running a candidate for the office of Sheriff.
Washington does not use the Grand Jury System. The decision to prosecute is vested in the office of the Prosecuting Attorney. A judge makes the finding of probable cause in felony cases upon our submission to him/her of an information (complaint).
Stevens County handles the oaths of office of elected officials in the same way every other county in Washington handles them. They are filed in the office of the auditor. Kendle Allen and all officials including myself comply with state law in this regard.
I think you know much more than you are letting on regarding sovereign citizens.
to which we responded:
Yes, I’ve reported on the term extensively, including speaking with the FBI about it. I asked for your definition because I am an investigative journalist seeking all sides of the story and any information pertinent thereto.
Over the last five years, I have also reported a tremendous amount on grand juries or the lack thereof, including in my own state of Connecticut.
Thank you for your responses.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
Another email received from Rasmussen at approximately the same time without explanation reads as follows:
Tim Rasmussen (email@example.com)
From: Jim Perkins [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 12:11 PM
To: Tim Rasmussen; Commissioners; Kendle E. Allen
Subject: Fw: “Arrest the Sheriff of Stevens County”
On Sunday, September 21, 2014 12:10 PM, Jim Perkins <email@example.com> wrote:
This past Thursday, at our Stevens County Courthouse (9/18/2014) documents were filed at the Stevens County Prosecutor’s office, against our Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen, alleging that he is impersonating a public servant. These documents were filed by a group that calls itself “We The People.”
There is a national organization called National Liberty Alliance www.nationallibertyalliance.org, that promotes Posse Comitatus-like actions i.e. citizen grand jury/common law grand juries. Local chapter members of this group are Raina (509) 936-3249, John (509) 993-0260, Ernie Hoch (509) 991-5959, and Ken Barker (509) 233-2010.
Ken Barker is running against Sheriff Kendle Allen, for Stevens County Sheriff this fall, so it is no surprise to me that Barker, who is supported by Barry and Ann Byrd, Stevens County Commissioner Steve Parker, State Rep Matt Shea, and unsuccessful 7th District State Senator John Smith, is behind filing a criminal complaint against our current sheriff. The National Liberty Alliance, has a very cozy relationship with Stewart Rhode’s OathKeepers group, who had an informational booth at our Tri-County Veteran’s StandDown this weekend, and Ken Barker seemed pretty cozy with that group.
Some of the groups “We The People” connected to the N.L.A., have been upset because they have been largely ignored due to having no legal standing, debunked due to their “common law” theories, been described as a bunch of whackos’, and they continue to be upset due to these labels. From my research, for “We The People” and Barry Byrd always shows up to do the opening prayer for their meetings, to file a criminal complaint, a citizen grand jury/common-law grand jury must have convened, discussed the presentment/indictment, and filed it with the Steven’s County Prosecutor’s office, this past Thursday.
“We The People” have notified our Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen and it was aired on KHQ-T.V. Thursday evening, that he has until this coming Friday (9/26/2014) at the close of business 1700 Hrs., to act on their “criminal complaint.” From the way that I understand it, if the Sheriff, does not show and the Prosecutor does not act, “We The People” and their common law grand jury, will find the Sheriff guilty in absentia and an arrest warrant will be issued and served by a local Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus member, who will be armed:(…two weeks ago, N.L.A. Washington State Co-Chair Ernie Hoch (509) 991-5959 did mention the possibility of arrest, in his letter to the editor, to the Statesman Examiner…
I don’t know how all of this is going to pan out for “We The People”, Barry and Ann Byrd, State Rep. Matt Shea, Ken Barker, Ernie Hoch, John Smith, Steve Parker, and their associates here in Stevens County. Russell Bolton and the Stevens County Assembly, have a new Facebook page that explicitly makes it clear that they are not affiliated with a militia or sovereignty group however, the news footage of the “We The People” group presenting their criminal complaint this past Thursday and people talking in front of the Stevens County Courthouse, shows 4 of the members of his group, standing in front, for all to see. “We The People” to me, is the latest version of the Posse Comitatus and “paper terrorism” was filed at our Stevens County Courthouse, last Thursday;(…
A similar group like “We The People”, in New England recently, striving to replace local county government, with their “God-endowed Natural Common Law” which is white supremacist to the core, gave their county commissioners, a budget of $1,300,000.00, which was intended to replace office furniture and make modifications, to the existing courthouse…
that price tag, resulted in many local citizens describing the group as “a bunch of whackos.”
The more that “We The People” tug at Steven County’s wallet, since that is really what they are all about, the more that local residents will see the growing price tag and the future forecast of financial liability and litigation, should have them quite concerned, enough to Stand Up and say that is more than enough.. Lim limt..
James Gordon Perkins
Upper Columbia Human Rights Coalition
Colville WA 99114
The “Posse Comitatus” Act was passed by Congress in 1878 to prohibit the use of U.S. military forces for domestic law enforcement purposes.
The Post & Email was unable to locate information on anyone in “New England” invoking “God-endowed Natural Common Law.” We are aware of the National Liberty Alliance and have interviewed one of its organizers on two occasions, but we know of no connection between the NLA and the Posse Comitatus Act. There is a lengthy, rambling post with that title on the NLA website which rambles into many other topics.
The Post & Email searched for the Washington Public Records Act to submit a request to obtain copies of the oaths of office for Rasmussen and Allen from the auditor’s office, where Rasmussen stated that they are filed. Under the subheading “Construction,” we found the following:
The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy and to assure that the public interest will be fully protected. In the event of conflict between the provisions of this chapter and any other act, the provisions of this chapter shall govern.
[2007 c 197 § 2; 2005 c 274 § 283; 1992 c 139 § 2. Formerly RCW 42.17.251.]
The Act states that public records shall be made available to “any person.”