High profile Wisconsin Republicans speak at GOP meeting in front of anti-government flag
US Capitol Grounds East Plaza off First Street and East Capitol Street, Washington DC on Wednesday morning, 6 January 2021 by Elvert Barnes Photography (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A number of Wisconsin Republicans running for office this year spoke in front of the flag of an anti-government ideology that advocates for the violent overthrow of American democracy at a meeting of the Winnebago County Republican Party this weekend.

Gubernatorial candidates Rebecca Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson, attorney general candidates Adam Jarchow and Eric Toney, lieutenant governor candidate and state Sen. Patrick Testin and U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman all spoke at the meeting on Saturday in front of the flag of the Three Percenters.

Photos of the event posted to the party’s Facebook page have since been deleted.

Toney, the current Fond du Lac County District Attorney, said he didn’t see the flag when he was speaking but has since asked that it be taken down.

“As a lifetime NRA member I”m committed to defending our Second Amendment rights but I do not support the Three Percenters,” Toney said. “The flag has no business being in a Republican party HQ and I’ve asked that it be replaced. I didn’t see it when I was at the event as I was focused on the attendees not the decor.”

The Three Percenters are an anti-government ideology and subsection of the militia movement that had adherents involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A few of the ideology’s followers were involved in a 2020 kidnapping plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The name Three Percenters comes from followers’ unfounded belief that only 3% of colonial Americans fought in the Revolutionary War and that therefore only a small group of people would be required to overthrow our current government.

The flag at the Winnebago County GOP meeting shows the group’s Roman numeral “III” logo replacing the stars on the American flag. The flag is also inscribed with two quotes.

“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined,” the flag states within the white stripes of the flag. “But they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

The flag attributes this quote to George Washington, even though he never said that. The flag includes another quote that is commonly used by anti-government groups and Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

“When tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty,” the flag states.

The Three Percenters is not an official group but its logo and related beliefs have become common in extremist right-wing circles.

In photos from the event, the Three Percenters flag is hanging on the wall behind the dais alongside two Trump 2024 flags and the pro-police Blue Lives Matter flag. The actual American flag and Wisconsin state flag are set aside in the corner near a cardboard cutout of former President Donald Trump.

This is not the first time the Winnebago County Republican Party has been criticized for expressing extremist views. Last summer, the organization shared a Facebook post that shows a photo of a white man along with the message, “Know the warning signs of WHITE SUPREMACY: 1. Full time employment 2. Literacy 3. Professional or technical degree 4. Regular church/temple attendance 5. Auto insurance 6. Good credit rating 7. No criminal record.”

Kleefisch, Nicholson, Jarchow, Testin, Grothman and the Winnebago County Republican Party did not return requests for comment.

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