Rick Perry denies he ever spoke in favor of Texas secession from the United States. But records show he not only spoke in favor of secession, Perry spoke at a rally attended by secessionist leaders and a top Perry aide met with secessionist leaders privately. Perry went on to push for legislation favored by secessionists and others. One of the groups he sought the support of, the Republic of Texas militia, has a long history of terrorism, including plots to assassinate a Republican governor (later president), a Democratic president, attempted attacks on a US Army base and federal building, and attempts to acquire missiles and biological weapons.
Bring up the topic of Texas secession today, and Rick Perry and his campaign insist he never spoke in favor of it. Indeed, in his most famous statement on the topic he did say, “There's absolutely no reason to,” even while insisting in the same statement, “We would be able to leave if we decided to do that.... if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that?”
In fact, Perry did speak on the topic of secession again, this time directly endorsing the idea. Speaking to a group of conservative bloggers, Perry told them, “We (Texans) can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.” The audience cheered the idea, just as the earlier crowd had cheered his chanting, “States’ rights! States’ rights! States’ rights!”
Such flirtations with secession, and with ideas about states’ rights appeal simultaneously to secessionists and hardcore racists, as well as some small government believers among conservatives. But for Perry this pandering went much deeper. Perry clearly sought the support of secessionists for a time. Almost a third of Texans and half of Texas Republicans favor Texas seceding from the US.
In 2009, Perry was running for reelection as governor. His opponent was U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a solid conservative with an impressive record. Perry’s flirtation with secession was a way to portray himself as an outsider (despite being a politician for nearly three decades) and Hutchinson as part of Washington insiders.
At a Tea Party rally in Austin in April of 2009, a reporter asked Perry about people associating him with the idea of secession from the US for Texas. The conference was sponsored by and included members of the Texas Nationalist Movement or TNM. The TNM are secessionists, though they claim to seek only legal means. Members of the Tenther Movement, a states’ rights group, also were part of the rally. But far more unsavory characters attended. Dan Miller is the leader of a far right militia, the “Republic of Texas” or ROT.
The ROT has a long history of terrorism and seeking to overthrow the US and Texas governments by violence, detailed below.
Rick Perry would go on to support Texas state legislation supported by the ROT and other secessionists and states’ rights supporters. House Resolution 50 called for Texas “sovereignty” or states’ rights. For Perry and the bill’s authors, this seemed like an issue on which to pose as anti-Washington. But for the ROT, TNM, and the Tenthers Movement, they all hoped this resolution would be a stepping stone to Texas seceding from the US.
Perry was not only at a press conference attended by secessionist leaders. One of Perry’s top aides, Director of Legislative Affairs and former State Senator Ken Armbrister, met privately with ROT “President” Daniel Miller and other secessionists. The website of the Texas Nationalist Movement describes the private meeting. TNM leader Cary Wise is clearly still angry because at one time the secessionists believed Perry to be an ally who supported their cause. Wise states that Perry’s aide Armbrister promised Perry would not be running for US President, which the secessionists took to mean Perry would remain Governor of Texas and support their cause. Today Wise describes Perry as a “false prophet” for the cause of Texas secession. But for a time, secessionists clearly supported Perry, and Perry clearly was seeking their support.
The ROT militia claims they are the return of the original “Republic of Texas.” Beginning in 1995 they set up “banks,” printed “currency,” and began a campaign that Texas state officials called “paper terrorism,” harassment, intimidation, fraud, and theft using phony liens, affidavits, orders, summonses, and warrants. As Governor, George W. Bush was ordered by the ROT militia to vacate office. At one point, over 300 angry militia stood on the Texas Capital steps, demanding Bush leave office. The ROT demanded more than $92 trillion from the federal government in “war reparations.” Texas state officials shut down two federal buildings because of bomb threats by the ROT. The ROT funded itself by passing over three million dollars in worthless checks.
The ROT also worked with another militia, the Washitaws, a Black supremacist group demanding the control of the entire former Louisiana Territory. In an audacious scheme, both militias tried to issue $1.5 billion in deposit warrants. Both militias then used the proceeds to buy property and luxury cars.
In 1997, members of the militia including their leader Richard McLaren, kidnapped two neighbors, leading to a standoff with Texas state police that made headlines worldwide. On trial, the full extent of the ROT’s plotting came out. The ROT tried to buy surface to air missiles, planning to shoot down Governor Bush’s airplane. A government informer, Robert Cyrus Stewart III, attended two militia meetings where Bush’s assassination was discussed. Stewart cased the governor’s mansion and believed the plot to be real, but the FBI never informed the governor’s security staff. 
Members of the ROT who shared membership in another militia terrorist group, the Third Continental Congress, plotted to attack the US Army Base at Fort Hood, Texas because they believed it housed foreign or United Nations troops.
In 1998, ROT militia members Jack Grebe and Johnie Wise were convicted of plotting to assassinate government officials, including President Bill Clinton. The ROT sent a “Declaration of War” to President Clinton, the heads of the FBI and CIA, and the Attorney General:
“Your [government] employees and their families have been targeted for destruction by revenge....Non-traceable, personal delivery systems have been developed to inject bacteria and/or viruses for the purpose of killing, maiming, and causing great suffering.”
The planned method of attack used biological weapons, cactus thorns coated with anthrax and shot by a modified cigarette lighter. The militia members were arrested near the Mexican border after meeting with a government informer.
In the same year, another ROT militia leader, Jacque Jaikaran, tried to purchase a four story building in Houston with machine gun turrets, a bomb shelter, and an operating room. Jaikaran was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion.
Again the same year, ROT militia “Secretary of Council” Carolyn Carney was sentenced to ten years in prison for threatening a highway patrolman with a gun. The officer was one of several serving an arrest warrant on her for failing to appear in court on other charges.
In 2000, members of the ROT militia planned to attack the Houston Federal building. Federal agents arrested Mark McCool, leader of the ROT’s “Militia and Combined Action Program.” McCool was arrested buying C-4 plastic explosives and automatic weapons. McCool pled guilty and served time on federal charges.
In 1999 in Trinidad, Texas, ROT militia member John Joe Gray was in a car pulled over for speeding. He was carrying a gun without a permit and resisted arrest. Gray tried to take one officer’s gun and actually bit the other officer’s hand during the struggle. He went to jail. Though known to be a militia member, alleged to be part of a plan to bomb a highway, and alleged to have had others make threats to carry out violence unless he was released, Gray was allowed out on bond. For twelve years, Gray has remained in a standoff with local police, hiding out on his small country property. Gray’s extended family with him numbers sixteen people, some heavily armed, some only children. Gray has also avoided prosecution for unpaid taxes and sheltered his daughter defying a court order giving custody of her children to her ex-husband.
The ROT has thus continued its long history and practice of terrorism during the very period when Perry sought out their support. In 2010, ROT militia member Victor Dewayne White shot two policemen and an employee of an oil company in Odessa, Texas in a dispute over property rights. From behind homemade barricades, White challenged officers to come get him in a siege lasting twenty-two hours. White finally surrendered and was indicted on three counts of attempted murder.
These are the type of people Governor Rick Perry for a time chose to associate with and sought out their support.
Summing up, the ROT militia is guilty of:
Treason, seeking to overthrow the US and Texas governments by force
Plots to assassinate one American President and one Texas Governor (later a US President)
Plotting to murder soldiers at an American Army base
Plotting to murder federal employees
Over $1.5 billion in various forms of fraud
Three other attempted murders, including of two policemen
Three other assaults on police
Numerous threats against police and public officials
Attempts to acquire surface to air missiles, plastic explosives, and other military weapons including biological ones
Paper terrorism using phony liens, court orders, summons, warrants
Numerous counts of forging passports, driver’s licenses, other documents
The ROT militia claims to have thousands of members statewide, and admits that some of the membership includes a “white supremacist faction.”
Recall the phony charges against Obama in 2008 about “palling with terrorists” over serving on a committee with someone who, a quarter of a century early, had solely destroyed property. But Rick Perry shared the stage with real terrorists, and sought their support. The ROT tried to assassinate a Democratic president and a Republican governor, murder police, soldiers, and civilians, force elected officials from office using threats, steal on a scale organized crime can only dream about, and intimidate any who disagree with them.
This militia was guilty of terrorism while Perry shared a press conference with them, had a top aide meet privately with them, and supported legislation the militia wanted. One militia member, John Joe Gray, remains in an armed standoff with police as this is being typed.
It may just be a matter of time until we see another violent spree from the ROT. It would be extremely unlikely if the ROT is not plotting terrorism at this very moment, if they had simply given up after a long record of terrorism stretching back more than a decade and a half.
Governor Perry has never answered: Was he being reckless and indifferent to what these terrorists did? Did he just not know these were dangerous people who believed in treason? If so, how was it possible for him and his staff to be that utterly unaware? A two minute search online could have told them.
It is simply not credible that Perry and his staff did not know. Perry was Lieutenant Governor during the 1997 standoff which made headlines worldwide, and Governor while one act of terrorism was committed by the ROT after another.
While Perry certainly is quite hostile to the federal government he now wants to lead, it does seem unlikely Perry truly agrees with these secessionists about their violent terrorist tactics. Perhaps Perry is what many of his critics have long said, someone who will say anything to anyone to get votes. In this case, that even means seeking the support of violent terrorist traitors.
Juan Batista is the author of Thank You Rick Perry: The End of Texas, an expose arguing Perry’s recklessness could have led to a severe outburst of violence in Texas and a shattered state.
Gov. Rick Perry and the Secessionists. Though Media Matters lists Daniel Miller as President of the Texas Nationalist Movement and formerly of the ROT militia, the TNM’s sites describe him as currently of the ROT and not part of the TNM.