Seeley had ties to Oath Keepers

Former Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley addresses the Greene County Legislature in this 2019 file photo. File photo

CATSKILL — As arrests from the attempted insurrection at the Capitol continue, links are being made between the rioters and an extremist group called the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government, militia organization that named former Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley the New York Constitutional Sheriff in 2017.

More than 300 people, including William Tryon, of Selkirk, have been charged with crimes in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Investigators identified more than 540 suspects and more arrests are anticipated.

Nine of those arrested had links to the Oath Keepers, one of the largest anti-government groups in the nation, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Seeley received the Oath Keepers’ NY Constitutional Sheriff Award in 2017 while he was Greene County’s sheriff, and was a guest speaker at the group’s awards dinner, which was held in Albany.

“Sheriff Seeley has been a strong supporter of the New York Oath Keepers since we were formed in 2009,” according to a June 8, 2017 New York Oath Keepers press release posted on the oathkeepers.org website.

Oath Keeper leader John Mahoney, who represents Greene, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, could not be reached for comment about Seeley’s membership. Seeley did not respond to requests for comment.

Eight chapters of the Oath Keepers exist in upstate New York and there is a New York City Chapter. The group was founded in 2009, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Anti-Defamation League estimates that Oath Keepers have from 1,000 to 3,000 members.

The Oath Keepers’ membership is primarily military and law enforcement, according to the organization’s website.

“Our mission is to reach, teach and inspire all who have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, particularly military and law enforcement officers, to encourage and insist that they honor their oath to the U.S. Constitution,” according to the Oath Keepers website. “We remind all to remain true to that oath which requires them to obey only valid orders that do not violate the Constitution of the United States.”

Affiliations with radical groups should be examined when it comes to hiring law enforcement, said the Rev. Richard Turpin, who served as a member of the Greene County Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.

“I think all candidates for law enforcement should be screened if they are going to be given a weapon to protect and serve,” he said. “I’m almost sure if an African-American male or female was to apply for a state trooper’s job, and they were known to be in the Black Panther party, that they would be questioned about that. Or, if one were to be known as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they applied for a state trooper’s job or a sheriff’s job, I would hope that would come up as well and be investigated.”

Greene County Legislator and former Public Safety Chairman William Lawrence, R-Cairo, emphasized examining people as individuals.

“People belong to a lot of groups but that doesn’t mean they go down to Washington, D.C., and go crazy and break into buildings,” he said. “Everything that people do, whether at a protest or in life, they do as an individual.”

There was a disparity between the way the events at the Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer of 2020 were portrayed, Lawrence said.

“They were sort of diminished in terms of this one in January,” he said. “To me, it was the same thing — people were upset about the government, they took it out by marching, not everybody broke into those buildings. It should be a comparison of apples to apples, which I don’t think was done in that case.”

Lawrence used the National Rifle Association as an example.

Some groups that are labeled as extremist organizations by one person may not be viewed that way by another, Lawrence said.

“Being a member of the NRA, which has been called an extremist group, doesn’t mean they’re an extremist,” he said. “People, when they’re younger, are part of groups they may later on regret. Holding that against them now when they’ve reached adulthood is not something I consider to be an absolute when hiring a person.”

A candidate should be hired based on qualifications, Lawrence said.

“I don’t want to see any type of political screen to get a person hired for a job in government,” he said. “Their background does have to be checked for anything they may have done illegally and that has to be weighed in terms of the age of the person when they did it and what they’re like now.”

Affiliations of applicants to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office are screened, county Sheriff Pete Kusminsky said.

Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said the rights of applicants as citizens need to be considered, as well.

“Anybody has the right to be affiliated with what they want,” he said. “A police officer needs to be held to a bit of a higher standard, but they still have rights as Americans, as citizens. They can believe what they want to believe and join whatever groups they want to join. They are paid to do a job. If there’s anything that hinders your ability to do that job, any employer would be looking to not employ them.”

As sheriff, Seeley was elected to the position, not hired by the county, Linger said. Seeley served as Greene County sheriff for 12 years from 2007-19.

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(11) comments

Rory VanDeusen

Oath Keepers are not related or have any connection to the KKK or The Black Panthers as The Reverend Turpin related to for background investigations.

scottmyers

Yes, the Oath Keepers are a natural outcome of the Ku Klux Klan.

Fr1245678910

Source? Insane rantings don't count.

BASEMENTDWELLER

No, they do not. You go further and further into orbit every time you hit the “post comment” tab. In fact, lying, libel, and slanderous commentary should not be allowed, or excusable in polite and intelligent society. Key word, intelligent, something that you clearly are not.

Rory VanDeusen

He should change his name to Rocket Man!

Seeley was never mentioned or alluded to being a member. He was a guest speaker at meeting including other LEOs from other agencies. Also present was Greene County government and the county lawyer. If he is/was a member, so what? He's no longer the Sheriff of Greene County. The only one is you Rocket Man.

BASEMENTDWELLER

Why does any of this even matter? You have the county idiot throwing whatever at the wall and hoping it sticks, and this “news” outlet following his lead. Not only was their biggest “fact” from four years ago, but the man is also retired and not a part of the department anymore. Out of the sphere of influence. Then there are the numbers. 9 of the 540 people arrested over the capitol nonsense were Oathkeepers. Allegedly. Even if true, that’s little more than 1.5%. They repeat stuff over and over, willing it into relevance. Why, again, is any of this important here in our area? If their claimed total nationwide membership was 35,000 members as of 2016, (Some claiming far less in the several thousand) how many members are here in NY? and we're to believe that a small organization has that much influence on much of anything? All the while no one providing anything of substance, to back said claims. Come on already with this nonsense

scottmyers

Yes, the Oath Keepers are in Greene County. The Oath Keepers already run Greene County. When is this going to change people? Please!

Most of the members of the all-white Village of Catskill Police are Oath Keepers. Its origins are the Klu Klux Klan. https://research.library.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1080&context=environ_2015

Consequences are the new $90 million debt obligation for a new jail that was never justified, adjoining county jails are 85% empty. The $90 million new debt for a jail doesn’t leave any money for remedial programs.

Consequences include the mismanagement of the Sheriff’s Office. Greene County had more suicides than any other county jail. Here’s Greg Seeley foaming at the mouth over 2nd amendment issues: https://youtu.be/nJLn-0QrOGs

Consequences include the unsustainable new $90 million debt for a jail that isn’t justifiable. It’s a dead expense, no return for the investment.

Sheriff Kusminsky, unfortunately, continued the Seeley contamination by hiring Mathew Seeley, Greg’s son. Lieutenant (now Captain) Tracy Quinn is possibly a blood relative of Greg Seeley. The proof is her criminal complaint against me for simply mentioning this in the public media.

The jail was closed because of the behavior of the staff, not architecture. Greene County is rated “worst offender” by SCOC. http://www.scoc.ny.gov/pdfdocs/Problematic-Jails-Report-2-2018.pdf

County Attorney Ed Kaplan placated SCOC for years, which perpetuated the horrible behaviors of Seeley and Jail Superintendent Michael Spitz. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1W0lx1TlaVHQIRzVbBdcZFdB8hOVMLPP8

Notice that the County or Village of Catskill Police reviews simply coalesced power to the police. Without an authoritative civilian review board, our police have full power.

In my extended experience, our courts are ineffective.

County Administrator Shaun Groden did the same thing in Michigan, where he was successfully sued in his personal and professional capacity. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/michigan/miedce/2:2008cv12202/230439/137/

Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Linger similarly placate the horrible circumstances, and both pushed through the destruction of 80 Bridge St. and the new palace and its $1.3 million Garage Mahal in Coxsackie.

Kaplan and Linger orchestrated my arrest for simply attending the January 2019 legislature meeting. https://youtu.be/g4m01nT2GUE Kaplan’s blocked my email for over four years.

Similarly twisted is the plan to build homeless Gulags on the new jail site, which are more jail cells. https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/news/greenecounty/county-eyes-homeless-shelter/article_95057895-43d6-5b2e-8d0c-7ec239c2ad66.html

No one can say we aren’t warned. https://youtu.be/dtFT2mfb7O0 https://youtu.be/Nf0KUpgHoUs

We’re all responsible for this mess.

The yearlong timeout COVID-19 provided is only useful if we fix our pre-covid problems. This begins with strict oversight of our local police and a sharp shift from police budgets to social and medical spending.

The first step is to authorize independent civilian oversight. The second is to stop overspending for police and start spending on professional medical and mental health. Please!

BASEMENTDWELLER

Oathkeepers don’t “run Greene County”, and Oathkeepers have nothing to do with the KKK. Just stop, you moron. This article and your comments are both baseless and unintelligible.

I can copy and paste stuff too-

Yellow journalism and yellow press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate, well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.[1] Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.[2]

Taken right from Wikipedia.

scottmyers

Yes, Oath Keepers run our county and the Village of Catskill.

Fr1245678910

Source?

Insane rantings and psychobabble don't count.

Provide factual, cross checked sources of this or you're just off your rocker more than usual, little buddy.

BASEMENTDWELLER

Guess what? It doesn’t matter even one little bit. He’s retired and that’s the end of it. Leave him alone. This BS with going after everyone that is. or was an Oathkeeper is just more of the conservative purge in America. It’s not enough for the democrats to be a super majority, they have to smear to death. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s wrong with the two party political system in this country. One thing, but a big thing. And then you have people like Scott Myers that just constantly stoke up controversy, whether it’s warranted or not. Give it a minute, he’ll be in here going on and on and on. The name Oath Keeper should not be synonymous with the word insurrection. Stop it with this media nonsense already!

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