Now that the president of the Montana Senate, Jeff Essmann, has come out publicly in support of a militia-connected candidate for vice chair of the Montana Republican Party, its time to take a closer look at this woman and the group she leads, and what it stands for, so we can get a better sense of Essmann’s vision for the MTGOP. As a recent report by the Montana Human Rights Network reveals, its not pretty.
As I wrote in my previous post, Essmann is supporting Jennifer Fielder for Montana Republican vice-chair. Fielder is a colleague of John Trochmann. They are co-leaders of the Sanders County Resource Council.
Trochmann is the infamous leader of the Militia of Montana, and in the 1990s was a big figure in the national militia movement. And the Sanders County Resource Council was formed by Trochmann specifically to serve as a front group for militia activity. We know this because Trochmann admitted it, in a radio interview, in which he explains that for legal reasons, he now conducts much of his militia-oriented activity under the guise of several new groups, SNRC among them.
As the Human Rights Network reports, the Militia of Montana was started by a bunch of low-lifes with ties to white supremacists.
John Trochmann and members of his family started the Militia of Montana (MOM) in 1994. Prior to founding MOM, Trochmann spoke at and attended meetings at Idaho’s Aryan Nations. In the mid-1990s as MOM attempted to portray itself as mainstream, Trochmann tried desperately to distance himself and MOM from racist beliefs and Aryan Nations. Richard Butler, leader of Aryan Nations, responded with a letter asking why Trochmann lied about the number of times he had visited the hate group. The letter also stated Trochmann attended several of the group’s Bible studies and helped draft a code of conduct for the Aryan Nations compound. Over the years, MOM distributed material by well-known white supremacists, racist websites, and activists who deny the Holocaust. Its newsletter also published articles claiming Jewish people are the “synagogue of Satan” and control the government.
MOM grew out of another group Trochmann helped organize, United Citizens for Justice (UCJ), the MHRN reports. Some well-known white supremacists were leaders of the UCJ. They included a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, an editor of a “Christian Identity” magazine (that’s the religion of the Aryan Nations), and a former leader of the Texas Ku Klux Klan. This group eventually folded due to infighting, and reformed as the Militia of Montana.
And Trochmann isn’t the only Sanders County Resource Council activist with a history of involvement with white supremacist militia types. Again from the MHRN report: “Ed Dosh is a [Sanders County Resource Council] activist. A longtime MOM member, Dosh worked the gun-show and preparedness expo circuit with the group during the 1990s. He’s been a close associate of John Trochmann ever since. Dosh was also a founding member of the Church of True Israel, a white supremacist group that splintered off from Aryan Nations in the mid-1990s.”
The MHRN report also says that Trochmann also has a history of trouble with the law:
In 1995, Trochmann and others were arrested in Roundup, MT, following an armed confrontation with law officers after Trochmann’s group tried filing documents supporting the Montana Freemen. When they were arrested, the “patriots” were equipped with plastic restraining devices, $80,000 in cash and coins, and numerous weapons. Charges against Trochmann were later dropped. In 2005, Trochmann faced charges of kidnapping and assault in Spokane after roughing up his niece, because he believed she had stolen a firearm from him. The charges were eventually dropped, but not before MOM shelled out $10,000 for an attorney.
If all of this weren’t enough, check out what happened when Trochmann’s brother tried to kick him out of the Militia for cheating on his wife. Trochmann went and formed a new group that he called the “Coalition for Men’s Rights.” This group was made up of men who had restraining orders against them for spousal abuse. So this is quite a crew and it will be interesting to see if the rest of the Montana Republican Party believes that these are the kind of people they want to follow.