Gov. Rick Perry and the Secessionists

April 20, 2009 12:26 pm ET

Washington, DC - Today, Media Matters Action Network released a memo outlining Texas Governor Rick Perry's ties to a Texas secessionist group whose former leaders are responsible for numerous acts of domestic terrorism. "From bomb threats, to kidnapping, to planning attacks using biological weapons, the Texas Nationalist Movement has a long violent history that cannot be ignored," Media Matters Action Network Managing Director Ari Rabin-Havt said. "Governor Perry should be ashamed of his association with these domestic terrorists."

April 20, 2009

To:       Interested Parties

From:    Ari Rabin-Havt

            Managing Director

            Media Matters Action Network

Re: Governor Rick Perry and the Secessionists

Texas Governor Rick Perry's comments suggesting that Texas could secede from the union, made at a Tea Party protest on Wednesday, have been widely discussed in the media. However, what has not been fully vetted is the Governor's relationship with extreme secessionist groups.

On April 9, 2009, Governor Perry appeared at a press conference in support of HCR 50, which states:

  • "The 81st Legislature of the State of Texas hereby claim sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
  • "That this serve[s] as notice and demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers."

The press conference was also attended by members of the Texas Nationalist Movement, a secessionist group led by Daniel Miller, who was formerly president of a violent anti-government organization called the Republic of Texas.

A video of the press conference can be found on YouTube and prominently displayed on the Texas Nationalist Movement website. Photographs of members attending the press conference also appear on their site.

At the press conference, Governor Perry stated:

"I agree with Texas' seventh governor, and I happen to think its greatest governor, Sam Houston who once said, 'Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.'  We didn't like oppression then, we don't like oppression now. I believe the federal government has become oppressive.  I believe it's become oppressive in its size, its intrusion in the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.  Texans need to ask themselves a question: do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecedented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents? Where you gonna stand? With an ever-growing Washington bureaucracy or are you gonna stand with the people of this state who understand the importance of states' rights?"

At no time during his address did Governor Perry denounce the secessionists, whose anti-American goals were clearly advertised on t-shirts and signs.

Governor Perry should know better. The Texas Nationalist Movement is not a random group. In a 2005 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] described the secession movement in Texas as "very hard-line anti-government groups whose views involve anti-government conspiracy theories." Their associates have been responsible for numerous acts and attempted acts of terrorism.

And yet Governor Perry encouraged their extremist views.

During the last two decades, members of the Republic of Texas have been arrested numerous times in the course of planning - or carrying out - what can only be described as domestic terrorism:

  • In 1997, Richard McLaren, former president of the Republic of Texas, kidnapped his neighbors leading to a week-long standoff between the police and "antigovernment separatists." The standoff ended when McLaren and his four followers surrendered. "After the surrender, a sixth Republic member [was] killed in a gun battle with police, while a seventh elude[d] authorities for four months before being captured."

o  During the standoff, McLaren told the New York Times: "We are at war with the United Nations and all foreign entities. We are not at war with the American people, but we are at war with the Federal agencies which have no jurisdiction here." Another Republic of Texas member, who identified himself as Lieut. Richard Keys of the Republic of Texas Defense Forces, said the hostages "were prisoners of war, held under provisions of the Geneva Convention."

  • Prior to the standoff in 1997, the New York Times reported that the Republic of Texas demanded "$92 trillion in 'war reparations' from the Federal Government, and it has 'ordered' Gov. George W. Bush and all state legislators to vacate the Capitol building in Austin, none of which seems likely to happen any time soon....The members have passed at least $3 million of worthless but official-looking Republic of Texas checks, and they are simply ignoring state-ordered fines and orders to cease and desist...This month state officials shut two public buildings in Austin because of a bomb threat that they said was linked to the group."
  • In 1998, according to SPLC, "Leaders of the so-called Republic of Texas, an antigovernment separatist group whose leader ha[d] been sentenced to serve 111 years in prison, tried to purchase a four-story building and compound to serve as the group's 'capital,' officials [said]. An IRS spokesman [said] Jacques Jaikaran, who face[d] up to three years in prison and $75,000 in fines on a tax evasion conviction, tried to arrange the purchase of a building near Houston that feature[d] machine-gun turrets, a bomb shelter and an operating room."
  • Also in 1998, the Republic of Texas plotted to assassinate President Clinton using biological weapons. According to the SPLC, "Officials [said] the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders. One man [was] acquitted of the charges, but Jack Abbot Grebe, Jr., and Johnnie Wise - a 72-year-old man who attended meetings of the separatist Republic of Texas group - eventually [were] sentenced to more than 24 years in prison."

o In addition, "according to an affidavit, Wise and Grebe told an FBI informant that they planned to modify a cigarette lighter so it would expel air instead of propane in order to fire a cactus needle tipped with anthrax, botulism or the AIDS virus."

  • In 2000, members of the group planned an attack on the Houston Federal building. The SPLC reported, "Federal agents arrest[ed] Mark Wayne McCool, the one-time leader of the Texas Militia and Combined Action Program, as he allegedly [made] plans to attack the Houston federal building. McCool, who was arrested after buying powerful C-4 plastic explosives and an automatic weapon from an undercover FBI agent, earlier plotted to attack the federal building with a member of his own group and a member of the antigovernment Republic of Texas, but those two men eventually abandoned the plot. McCool, however, remained convinced the un [sic] had stored a cache of military materiel [sic] in the building. In the end, he [pled] guilty to federal charges that [brought] him just six months in jail."

Governor Perry should be ashamed of his association with these domestic terrorists.