MILWAUKEE – At least two of the Wisconsin leaders named on a list of current and former members of the Oath Keepers say they were disillusioned as to what the group was really about when they joined.
Darla LeClair currently serves as the vice president of the Two Rivers City Council. She tells WTMJ that she joined the group sometime around 2009, shortly after leaving the military.
LeClair says she thought she would be joining a group where she could connect with fellow vets over a love of country and service. Instead, she found a group that the Anti-Defamation League describes as, “a collection of right-wing, anti-government extremists who are part of the militia movement, which believes that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
LeClair tells WTMJ that shortly after joining, she left the Oath Keepers.
“I cut ties with them almost immediately because I learned more about them and their philosophy was 180 degrees out from mine,” LeClair said.
When it comes to attending rallies or donating money to the Oath Keepers, LaClair says that was a non-starter.
“I have not been a part of any of that,” she said.
Another city leader who appeared on the list is Madison Alderman Gary Halverson. He joined the Oath Keepers long after LeClair, but he tells WTMJ that he also thought that it was a way to connect with fellow veterans.
“I joined without vetting the organization,” Halverson wrote to WTMJ in a prepared statement. “I thought I joined an organization that welcomed veterans who cared about our democracy. I was misled and I terminated the membership two months later in August of 2020.”
LeClair says her interaction with the group was so minimal and so long ago, that she didn’t even think anything of it when the list was published.
Now, she says she hopes it doesn’t ruin the rest of her career – and her life.
“This is the time now where I think that I’m going to find out who my friends are and who is going to rush to make a decision,” LeClair said. “I’m just going to have to tough it out. I just hope that with everything that I’ve tried to do for my city…. that that hasn’t all been for naught.”
You can listen to the entire interview with Two Rivers City Council Vice President Darla LeClair in the player at the top of the page.