Members of an Ohio-based Christian group called the Salt and Light Brigade were among the “suspicious actors” who breached the police lines on the east side of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and engaged in a “stunning conspiracy” to commit illegal acts that were falsely ascribed to the Oath Keepers, a defense attorney contends.
Attorney Brad Geyer, who represents Oath Keepers member Kenneth Harrelson in his January 6 seditious-conspiracy criminal case, filed a motion (pdf) identifying dozens of people allegedly associated with the Salt and Light Brigade as among those who pushed past police on the east side and moved up to the Columbus Doors entrance to the Capitol Rotunda.
Geyer said Salt and Light Brigade members engaged in a “stunning conspiracy” to attack the Capitol, but have faced no charges. Several members and associates of the group claim to have worked in intelligence jobs, including a former Green Beret with experience in “special operations, covert operations, psychological operations, undercover operations, [and] surveillance operations.” Others have claimed they have high-level government security clearances, he said.
In his filing, Geyer also alleged the Department of Justice has hamstrung defense attorneys by not providing evidence requested by the defense and failing to provide exculpatory information such as the FBI’s possible use of confidential human sources—informants—inside the Oath Keepers.
Geyer asked U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta for a six-month delay in the Oath Keepers trial. Mehta denied the motion. The judge also denied a motion to compel prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence Geyer said he and other attorneys requested but have not received.
Geyer’s petition for a delay came before Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III fired his defense attorneys and asked Judge Mehta to delay the Sept. 26 start of the trial by at least 90 days. Mehta ruled on Sept. 7 that Rhodes could not fire his attorneys and he denied an emergency motion to delay the trial.
“We’re still turning over rocks and finding amazing things on a daily basis,” Geyer said on Epoch TV’s “Crossroads” program. “The learning curve at this stage should not still be that steep.”
Geyer said defense experts would testify that Harrelson and other Oath Keepers were blamed for acts committed by Salt and Light Brigade members.
Experts “will document the actual plan and conspiracy to deploy rally attendees as force multipliers that the Oath Keepers played no part in,” Geyer wrote. “There was a plan to attack the Capitol, but not by Harrelson.
“The government frames Harrelson as the conductor of the orchestra when he did not even play in a strings section or a brass section but was merely a member of the audience.”
Plans to Storm the Capitol
Salt and Light group members, who include a convicted abortion clinic bomber, spoke on video of their plans to storm and take the Capitol, Geyer wrote as part of his motion seeking a trial delay. Mehta denied the motion in a hearing on Aug. 2 and has reiterated his opposition to delaying the trial in other hearings since.
Geyer’s court filing added 43 people to his previously filed list of 80 “suspicious actors” and “material witnesses,” many of whom have not been arrested or charged with January 6 crimes. Geyer asked how the FBI could not know about a group whose members openly spoke about having 500,000 armed men go to the Capitol in early January 2021.
“We developed an additional overlapping list of 43 suspicious actors and/or material witnesses, some of whom planned to attack the Capitol, organized and coordinated the attack on the Capitol,” Geyer wrote, “and can now actually be seen carrying it out without Mr. Harrelson’s knowledge, because we can now finally see from surveillance video that he participated in no attacks, took part in no vandalism and came to the assistance of police.”
Geyer said it was “shocking” that the FBI could be unaware—or fail to provide exculpatory evidence of—a group that he said committed such obvious criminal acts on January 6.
“That the FBI could still be reviewing required discovery and Brady [exculpatory] information more than 18 months post-arrest and be sitting on evidence of a host of perpetrators who actually engaged in the crimes that Harrelson is accused of committing is shocking and frankly, incomprehensible…” he wrote, “since the FBI is the best law enforcement agency without question in the world, and it is expert in developing CHS [confidential human source] assets prior to events like January 6.”
The FBI’s national press office referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Spokesman William Miller said prosecutors would have no comment on Geyer’s assertions.
The Salt and Light Brigade is part of Pass the Salt Ministries, a charity founded in 2001 by Coach Dave Daubenmire. The brigade has offered tactical training sessions in more than a half-dozen states, teaching Christians self-defense, such as how to handle firearms and engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Pass the Salt Ministries, based in Hebron, Ohio, produces the “Coach Dave Live” podcast and offers Bible seminars, workshops and rallies, and provides relief in times of natural disaster, according to its filings with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
It had been a recognized charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Its annual income from 2015 to 2019 ranged from $158,070 to $370,931, according to its Form 990 IRS filings. Geyer said the group is no longer registered as a tax-exempt charity and has not reported financial information to the IRS beyond the 2019 tax year.
Geyer said Daubenmire brought 129 people to Washington on January 6.
Daubenmire became nationally known in 1998 when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) complained he was leading football players in prayer at public London High School. Daubenmire was a highly successful coach of football and girls’ basketball. He achieved a 73-45 record as London High School football coach.
The ACLU sued the Ohio school district in 1999 over the prayer issue. Under an out-of-court settlement, any prayers had to be student led. Daubenmire stepped down from coaching duties a few months later, then left to found Pass the Salt Ministries.
Daubenmire has been outspoken about the 2020 presidential election and the January 6 protests.
“It was a government insurrection against the people,” Daubenmire wrote in a July 2022 blog post. “Over 75 percent of those currently locked in jail in corrupt Washington D.C. are veterans. Maybe you need to read that again. Veterans are locked up in D.C. for peacefully demanding redress of a stolen election.”
In a statement to The Epoch Times (pdf), Daubenmire refuted the notion that Salt and Light affiliates committed illegal acts.
“On Jan. 6th we joined literally millions of Americans in Washington D.C. to do nothing more than exercise our First Amendment right to ‘peaceably assemble to petition our government for a redress of grievances,’” Daubenmire said. “It is our God-given right to do so. At no time did we engage in violence, nor promote violence.
“We were a group of moms and pops who love our nation and merely traveled to Washington to exercise those Constitutionally protected rights.”
Daubenmire said Salt and Light Brigade isn’t even a group per se.
“It has no members, no dues, no roster, and no structure,” Daubenmire said. “It is nothing more than individual citizens across the nation who are only interested in advancing the Kingdom of God. Mathew Chapter 5 declares that Christians are to be Salt and Light, and actively engage society for the cause of Christ.”
‘They Must Fear Us!’
According to Geyer, Salt and Light Brigade member Pastor Bill Dunfee is shown on video encouraging a crowd on the east side of the Capitol to storm the building. Much of his alleged incitement, the court document said, came before President Donald Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. “They must fear us,” Dunfee told the crowd, the document said. “We must rise up!”
“Dunfee asked repeatedly, ‘Whose building is that?’ He then asked, ‘Why are we here?’” Geyer wrote. “And Dunfee answered, ‘We are here to take our building, to have our voices heard.’”
In an email to The Epoch Times, Dunfee said he joins in the statement provided to the newspaper (pdf) by Daubenmire.
That statement reads, in part, “Sadly, selective enforcement of the law seems to be rampant today. Since when is exercising a Constitutional right illegal? That is all we did. That is all we ever do. Our record speaks for itself. Peaceable assembly. Anyone is welcome to gather with us.”
Video shot at the police line on the east side of the Capitol shows Dunfee telling police that protesters are going up to the Capitol one way or another.
“These people are not violent people, but we will push if we’ve got to push,” he said. About two minutes later, Dunfee put his back against the police barrier and pushed until it tumbled over and the crowd began racing for the Capitol steps. Dunfee briefly scuffled with a police officer who tried to grab him, but he broke free.
Dunfee is well-known for the years-long battle he and his New Beginnings Ministries had with a strip club in New Castle, Ohio. The group posted members outside the club in an effort to discourage patrons. In response, topless strippers picketed Dunfee’s church during Sunday services.
Geyer said after the crowd streamed into the Capitol Rotunda when the Columbus Doors were opened, Dunfee was joyful. Just outside the Columbus Doors, he encountered several men coming from inside the Capitol, one of whom said, “We did it. We got our job done. We shut them all down. Let’s get out. Let’s get out of here,” according to video shot by journalist Ford Fischer. Dunfee then shouted, “Mission accomplished!”
Another alleged member of the Salt and Light Brigade, Jeff Cline, was among a small group that approached the Proud Boys near the Capitol, the filing said. Geyer theorized the men made an attempt to recruit members of the Proud Boys to join their attack.
On the “Coach Dave Live” podcast, “Cline added that the people on their side of the Capitol ‘were looking for a leader’ and ‘they listened as Pastor Bill stood on the platform with that bullhorn, and he kept just pumping them and pumping them,'” Geyer wrote. “Cline went on to say, ‘and buddy when it was time to knock the gates over, they were ready . . . and once we busted the barriers, we were standing up there—cause I kept telling the people—all those three sets of steps, we’re going to fill those steps, and the platform at the top.'”
On a June 2021 episode of “Coach Dave Live,” Cline claimed the FBI cleared Dunfee and the group of wrongdoing at the Capitol, Geyer said.
“Jeff Cline mentioned that the FBI has spoken to Dunfee and told him they had watched many hours of video of his involvement and concluded that he had done nothing wrong,” the filing said. “Video shows Dunfee inciting the crowd to riot and fill the Capitol, and Dunfee pushing police officers at the barriers and near the Columbus Doors.”
Another alleged member of the brigade, John Brockhoeft, said on a live stream on the east side of the Capitol on January 6, “They put these barriers up because they knew we were coming. And I’ve heard some chatter about how our people are going to take those barriers down and push their way in,” according to the livestream video.
Brockhoeft spent years in federal prison for the 1980s bombing of an Ohio abortion clinic and the attempted bombing of a Florida abortion clinic in 1988, according to local newspaper accounts at the time. He often participates in Salt and Light Brigade events across the country, Geyer wrote.
On the Dec. 29, 2020, episode of “Coach Dave Live,” brigade member Joseph “Silver” Farrell suggested locking members of Congress in the House and Senate chambers with a full-term aborted child on January 6 and “making every person in that damned room lick it. Okay, let’s see how they enjoy their freedom, because we’re going to bar the doors until everybody does it.”
Just days before Dave Daubenmire and his Salt and Light Brigade carried out their criminal conspiracy at the U.S. Capitol on J6, brigade member Joseph 'Silver' Farrell suggested barring the doors of the house and senate chambers and forcing each member to lick an aborted baby. pic.twitter.com/zD1FFkvSla
— 🇺🇸 (@FreeStateWill) September 8, 2022
On his podcast on Dec. 16, 2020, Daubenmire played a video of a Salt and Light Brigade member calling for 500,000 armed men to descend on Washington on Jan. 4—a date that was changed to Jan. 6 after Trump announced he would speak at the Ellipse. “Daubenmire said it was a ‘time to strap a rifle over your shoulder,’ and that the moment was an opportunity ‘to totally redo Washington D.C.,'” Geyer wrote.
On his podcast just as the Ohio group arrived in Washington, Daubenmire said: “What if 500,000 people said they’ve had enough of it?'” Geyer wrote. “Then Daubenmire asked, ‘What if 200,000 people said they’ve had enough and decided to storm the capitol?'”
According to Geyer, a U.S. Senate investigation found that U.S. Capitol Police had intelligence on the call for 500,000 armed men by late December 2020.
No. 9 on FBI Most-Wanted Page
Geyer’s court filing also includes other alleged suspicious actors such as Megan Paradise, who is seen on video at various places on the east side of the Capitol telling protesters to enter the building. Paradise is listed as No. 9 on the FBI’s January 6 most-wanted page, but she has not been arrested or charged.
As Dunfee attempted to speak to a raucous crowd on January 6, Paradise said to some of the bystanders, “You guys better [expletive] join us is the thing,” according to a cell phone video.
Paradise was photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on January 6. She sat adjacent to Richard “Bigo” Barnett, whose photo with his feet on a desk went viral after a news photographer asked him to pose. Barnett faces some half-dozen federal charges for his alleged January 6 actions. He turned down a plea deal that would have meant up to 87 months in prison.
At the top of the east steps, according to Geyer, Paradise chanted, “Take their shields! Take their shields!” just as another suspicious actor known only as #GooseInGrey stole a riot shield from a police officer. “She chanted, ‘Break the door, break the door, break the door,'” Geyer wrote.
Epoch Times contributor Scott Wheeler took a photograph of Paradise on the Capitol steps after she emerged from the speaker’s office. “The woman had a baseball, an autographed baseball,” Wheeler told The Epoch Times. “She said at that time, ‘I sat at Pelosi’s desk and smoked a joint.'”
Wheeler said Paradise and the unidentified man told him the items came from Pelosi’s office. The man held a bottle of wine from the 1984 Democrat national convention in San Francisco.
The Epoch Times was unable to reach Paradise for comment. A message left at the office of her father has not yet been returned.
According to Lynette Carolla, Paradise’s aunt, her niece flew back to Washington and met with FBI agents in the days after January 6.
“She was very apologetic, and she was honest,” Carolla said during an episode of her podcast, “For Crying Out Loud.”
“And, you know, she just sat at the desk, wrote a note, and then she laughed. They [the FBI] want to see all the text messages. They want to make sure she’s not part of anything, which she’s not. And she went down there by herself. Her dad bought her the ticket.”
Lynette Carolla is divorced from celebrity radio host Adam Carolla, a comedian who co-hosted “The Man Show” with Jimmy Kimmel on Comedy Central. Her brother, Dean Paradise, is Megan’s father.
Joshua Philipp contributed to this report