State Sen. Dallas Heard also opposes mandatory safety measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Dallas Heard, the newly elected chair of the Oregon Republican Party, once visited an armed militia group as it illegally occupied a federal wildlife facility. Heard also has connections to anti-mask extremists and was involved in protests at the Oregon state Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day as the attack by supporters of Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol.
On Monday it was announced that Heard, a state senator, had been elected to the position. The selection of Heard is seen as a move further to the right for the state party, which recently described the attack on the U.S. Capitol as a "false flag" event.
Democrats currently control the Oregon House, Senate, and governorship.
In 2016, as a state representative, Heard traveled to the headquarters of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which was at the time being occupied by an armed right-wing militia led by Ammon Bundy, son of the anti-government figure Cliven Bundy.
The occupation went on for 40 days and ended with multiple indictments and arrests, including prison sentences for nine people involved in the assault. One militant was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement.
In addition to his involvement with the militia, Heard is also connected to Citizens Against Tyranny, an Oregon group that opposes safety measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Heard offered to raffle off some of his personal possessions to provide financial support to the group.
Citizens Against Tyranny posted online the names of two women who they claimed had filed complaints with OSHA about businesses in Oregon not fully complying with COVID restrictions. The site described the women as "filthy traitors" in type designed to look blood-spattered.
Rick Wesenberg, the district attorney for Douglas County, Oregon, condemned Citizens Against Tyranny for engaging in "intimidation."
"Public shaming and banning of certain 'listed' Douglas County citizens is offensive to our democracy and the due process of law," he added.
John Hanlin, the sheriff of the county, also criticized the group's tactics.
Earlier in 2020, Heard spoke in opposition to mask mandates during a special legislative session and took off his mask as a form of protest.
Heard was also involved in rallies held by Trump supporters in opposition to Democratic control of the state government.
At a Dec. 2020 rally at the state Capitol, Heard told a crowd that he was in "full support" of them entering the locked building. Members of that crowd later stormed the building, attacking security officers, damaging property inside, and harassing legislators.
A man who stood next to Heard as he made his comment, David Medina, was later a member of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol and was recorded speaking outside of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.
That same day, Heard spoke to a rally of conservatives outside the Oregon Capitol and told them, "Don't let any of these punks from that stone temple over there ever tell you they are better than any of you."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.