Proud Boys leader says the far-right group is 'hemorrhaging money'
Enrique Tarrio. Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images
The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers both struggle to raise funds and keep members as far-right organizations cope with the aftermath of the January 6 connection with the Capitol riot.
The Oath Keepers were founded in 2009 and the Proud Boys in 2016. The Wall Street Journal interviewed current and past leaders and members of both groups, and they described how the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers first encountered financial problems after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. PayPal booted the Oath Keepers, founder Stewart Rhodes said, even though his group wasn't there and he had to ask members to post their posts. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio said PayPal, Stripe and other credit card processors - including several used by porn sites and gun manufacturers - have also banned him.
More than three dozen members and staff of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were arrested in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and prosecutors are investigating any financial support from the groups and the role of Rhodes and Tarrio; the men did not enter the Capitol during the uprising.
Tarrio told the Journal that the e-commerce site he runs to support himself and other Proud Boys has been hurt by the fact that they cannot process credit card payments. "We have been bleeding money out since January," he said, "like money bleeding out." Barely making enough to cover the rent, Tarrio said he set up a secret e-commerce site to sell goods with liberal slogans like "Black Lives Matter" and "Impeach 45" but didn't want to give her name .
As for the Oath Keepers, former board members said the journal's membership was down 80 percent from its peak, and Rhodes said in April that the group had less than $ 10,000 in their bank account. Several board members have accused Rhodes of using Oath Keepers money to bail out a Montana home and pay for liquor, guns, steaks and items from the adult store Alley Katz Nighties N Naughties. Rhodes' attorney does not deny that he spent money on these items.
Ed Wilson managed IT for the Oath Keepers in 2015 and told the Journal that Rhodes used the bank account "as a piggy bank." Former Oath Keepers Secretary Billy Simmons said the final straw had come for him in early 2020 when he learned that Rhodes had exhausted his Oath Keepers card for three days in a row so he could bypass his $ 350 daily spending limit, to buy a $ 1,000 AR 10 rifle. Rhodes told the Journal that the allegations that he misused funds were "petty, stupid and lewd" and that his accusers were "angry people with a bone to pick".
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