At least 30 governors receive letters from anti-government organization
A defender of the Guardians of the Free Republics, an anti-government group that called on Gov. Jim Gibbons to resign or face being “commandeered,” said Friday the driving force behind the movement is the belief that “government corruption and corruption in the media is detrimental to our country and rule of law.”
“The fact is we have government, media and corporate officials that are violating the US Rule of Law to advance a political ideology or to gain monetarily through corruption and manipulation,” Erik Peterson wrote in an e-mail to the Nevada Appeal.
He gave no further information about himself except to say he is not authorized to speak for the movement but is “only a concerned citizen,” who believes government officials should be held accountable for “the use of terrorism against US citizens.”
At least 30 governors including Gibbons received letters from the group saying if they don’t leave office within three days they will be removed, according to an internal intelligence note by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The FBI expects all 50 governors will eventually receive such letters.
The intelligence note says officials have no specific knowledge of plans to use violence, but they caution police to be aware in case other individuals interpret the letters “as a justification for violence or other criminal actions.”
Peterson, like the individual identifying himself as D. Merlin Campbell who contacted the Nevada Appeal on Thursday, denied the group’s Restore America Plan has any intention of violence.
“It is not a threat, it is a truth that must be complied with or there will be consequences, not of violence, but legal recourse,” Campbell’s message stated.
The letter prompted the Nevada Department of Public Safety to increase security Tuesday at the Capitol. Side doors are now locked, a metal detector was installed and boulders were placed in front of ungated entrances to the grounds.
The FBI warning comes at a time of heightened attention to far-right extremist groups after the arrest of nine Christian militia members last weekend accused of plotting violence.
The FBI associated the letter with “sovereign citizens,” most of whom believe they are free from all duties of a U.S. citizen, like paying taxes or needing a government license to drive. A small number of these people are armed and resort to violence, according to the intelligence report.
Last weekend, the FBI conducted raids on suspected members of a Christian militia in the Midwest that was allegedly planning to kill police officers. In the past year, federal agents have seen an increase in “chatter” from an array of domestic extremist groups, which can include radical self-styled militias, white separatists or extreme civil libertarians and sovereign citizens.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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