Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Barry County, Michigan, Sheriff Dar Leaf defended the actions of men accused of an alleged terrorist kidnapping plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an interview that went viral on Twitter with Fox 17's Aaron Parseghian.
Leaf acknowledged he knows two of the men, Michael and William Null, residents of Barry County, who are facing charges due to their alleged involvement. Leaf described the men as "nice and respectful" and downplayed the kidnapping charges, saying that it's possible the men were justified in their actions: "A lot of people are angry with the governor and they want her arrested, so are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt, because you can still in Michigan … make a felony arrest."
This interview with a sitting sheriff in Michigan is absolutely wild. https://t.co/h7WKsrAqCZ— Ross Jones (@Ross Jones)1602255703.0
Leaf is a member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an extremist, pro-militia group. In April, Leaf was a guest on Fox News' America's Newsroom. During this appearance, Leaf defended his refusal to enforce Whitmer's social distancing guidelines.
According to the Political Research Associates, a think tank that studied the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), the organization claims affiliation with 401 associated sheriffs, 161 of whom are currently in office. Political Research Associates says CSPOA is the "flagship organization for law enforcement" associated with the pro-militia, anti-government patriot movement and, through its connection with the "Oath Keepers" right-wing militia organization, has played "a significant role normalizing relationships between far-right militia and local law enforcement."
In a follow-up interview with Fox 17 in which he sought to clarify his comments about the Null brothers, Leaf described his involvement with CSPOA as a "blessing."
Since 2017, extremist sheriffs have made 83 appearances on Fox News.