Long before spearheading one of the country’s biggest right-wing paramilitary groups, Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes peddled doomsday conspiracies, advocated for anti-government uprisings, and splurged on cars and hookers while his kids survived on “dehydrated apple slices,” The Daily Beast reported Saturday, citing a bombshell interview with his former wife.
Tasha Adams, who met Rhodes in 1991, wedded him in 1994, and is trying to finalize their divorce, spoke to The Daily Beast virtually, painting a clear picture of Rhode’s downward spiral from a “very intelligent” Yale Law School graduate to gun-toting hard-right extremist.
Adams, who has long excoriated her now-infamous “soon-to-be-ex-husband” publicly for alleged abuse, told the Daily Beast of Rhodes’ longstanding love for the high life, the pursuit of which made him treat “her like an ATM.".
“Adams says he pressured her to turn over her college fund of $4,600 so he could buy a 1967 red Camaro convertible after totalling his own car,” the publication added. Adams also told the Beast that Rhodes pressured her into the cocktail waitress business, where the dress code “were G-strings and fishnet tights and everyone slaps you on the ass.”
Adam's woes didn’t end there, though: Rhodes then pushed her into stripping topless and would snatch the money she made for the day whenever he picked her up, “acting like a pimp,” Adams told the publication.
"He just complained that there wasn't enough money, and said how easy it would be for me to strip. He said it was immature of me to be so selfish, and that he would do it if he could. I thought, 'Well, I guess I just grew up really sheltered,'" Adams told Business Insider.
The Beast also reported that Rhodes — by then already a vector of right-wing paranoia, speaking of U.S.-owned concentration camps and a totalitarian “New World Order — peddled Y2K conspiracies (that a computer bug would bring about the end of the internet, and then the world) after his time working in then-Rep. Ron Paul’s office in Washington, D.C.
According to Adams, Rhodes’ kids labeled him “King of the Apocalypse” for his insistence that the Y2K disaster would happen, moving up the dates each time the world survived his perceived doomsday.
“Oh, the real Y2K is in two weeks,” Adams said, recalling Rhodes’ remarks at the time to the Beast. “Then it’s ‘Y2K will be next year.’ It’s like QAnon. ‘The Storm’ will be in two weeks,” she added.
Adams also spoke of Rhodes’ hunger for publicity and admiration, heightened in the immediate aftermath of the founding of his extremist Oath Keepers group, saying that he was “unhappy that he didn’t get enough attention.”
Rhodes, the Beast wrote, “was ‘addicted to the media attention,’ from the likes of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN,” and dove ever deeper into far-right extremism to get his fix.
Adams informed the Beast that when the Oath Keepers’ dues began streaming in, Rhodes “spent freely on custom weapons, expensive clothing, over 100 pairs of shoes, and 100-dollar steak dinners at the Denver airport” while his six kids ate “dehydrated apple slices and canned oatmeal.”
Rhodes’ controlling nature spiraled into physical abuse, Adams told Insider, after participating in the 2014 Bundy standoff, where he became a laughingstock for suggesting that the government planned to launch a drone strike on a ranch, the Beast reported.
Adams also told Insider that Rhodes began losing his temper with his kids and would “grab their upper arms or hit them when no one was looking” — allegations the paper said two of Rhodes’ now-adult children corroborated.
"He would hit us a lot, grab us by our hair and swing us around," 19-year-old Sequoia Rhodes told Insider. "He would throw us into walls, he used to gut punch us a lot."
"I remember mom getting pretty upset after that," she added.
Rhodes and his militant associates are currently on trial, facing 20 years of jail time if found guilty on charges of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Speaking to CNN in January, Adams cheered Rhodes’ arrest, calling him a “complete sociopath,” and said she feared for her family's safety.
“He’s a dangerous man,” Adam said. “He sees himself as a great leader, he almost has his own mythology of himself and I think he almost made it come true as seeing himself as some sort of figure in history and it sort of happened. He’s a complete sociopath; he does not feel empathy for anyone around him at all.”
An attorney for Rhodes, James Lee Bright, denounced Adam’s allegations as “salacious comments” in response to the Beast’s request for comment and outlined the defense team’s plan to argue in court that Rhodes’ actions were legal.