Things have not gone well for the Oath Keepers militia group since the Capitol insurrection.
First, recruitment and donations slumped after more than a dozen Oath Keepers members were indicted for allegedly conspiring to violently overthrow the government on Jan. 6, BuzzFeed News reported.
Other reports suggested that Oath Keepers members charged in the insurrection were breaking ranks and pointing fingers at each other as they pursued plea bargains. Meanwhile, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes rejected his attorney's advice and met with the FBI, and bank records appeared to show that the group's leadership had spent its money on car repairs, liquor, cellphone games, and undisclosed items at an adult entertainment shop, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Now, leaked emails reveal that new recruits demanded refunds after they paid to join the Oath Keepers but never received "membership packages" — or any other response — which left them "feeling scammed," according to the Daily Beast. The emails were made public this week by the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets.
"After members of the Oath Keepers appeared on the frontlines of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the organization's inboxes were flooded with emails," the Daily Beast reports. "Some came from prospective members looking to join the group. Others came from members who wanted out. The would-be Oath Keepers and defectors had a common complaint: They had sent money to the far-right group and never heard from it again."
One applicant, a retired Navy commander, accused the Oath Keepers of being an illegitimate organization.
"I joined back in November and I have received NOTHING, not one thing from you all except you took my $50 membership and told me you were backed up so the membership package might take a little time," the applicant wrote. "Well from November to February is not a LITTLE time. So if you want to keep me as a member, you need to HONOR your obligation! I am also not given access to the forums or other stuff online and when I go to Contact you NO, no info, phone number or email. I just found this one on the listings looking for the state chapter of which I have received NO RESPONSE FROM either! I joined thinking I was to be part of an organization that did what it says. If this is a bogus organization now, why did you take my money? Do I have to contact someone more official to resolve all this? I expect to hear from someone who can fix all this very soon."
Another applicant, a retired fire department leader, questioned whether the Oath Keepers were simply out for money.
"I had heard of oathkeepers from a coworker but was hesitant since I was still employed with a government organization," he wrote. "After retiring, I decided to join. I requested info on local contacts and ways to be involved but have yet to hear anything. I feel like it was all about the money and that is very disappointing."
The emails were apparently sent to Edward Durfee, an Oath Keeper who is running for New Jersey state assembly. While many of the emails were forwarded from Durfee's account to others within the Oath Keepers organization, he responded to one complaint by blaming the delays and problems on the "the lefty attacks."