Kroger cuts militia group Indiana Oath Keepers from its ‘community rewards program’ after store was found to be unknowingly funding the extremists now accused of storming the Capitol
- The grocery chain said it was ‘dismayed’ to learn that the extremists were a part of its charity program
- Shoppers with Kroger loyalty cards can direct donations to nonprofits of their choice through the program
- The Indiana Oath Keepers were declared a tax-exempt ‘public safety’ nonprofit by the IRS in 2017
- Three members of the Oath Keepers group have been arrested and accused of planning and coordinating of the Capitol breach
- The Indiana Oath Keepers also receive revenue from the Amazon Smiles program
Kroger has cut the Indiana Oath Keepers from its community rewards charity program after it was revealed that the grocery store had unknowingly funneled money to the militia group ahead of the Capitol riots.
A spokesperson for said the grocery chain was ‘dismayed’ to learn that the extremist group had received donations meant for charities. The move comes amid a flood of companies seeking to distance themselves from the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.
‘Given the concerning nature of the allegations against this organization, we have immediately removed the group from receiving customer-directed funds,’ a Kroger spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Scroll down for video
Sleeping Giants revealed that the extremist militia group Indiana Oath Keepers received funds from the Kroger community rewards program
Three members of the Oath Keepers have been arrested and accused of planning and coordinating of the Capitol breach
The supermarket launched its community rewards program in 2013 to help funnel donations to thousands of charities, the outlet reported.
Shoppers with Kroger loyalty cards can select non-profits approved by the Internal Revenue Service to receive donations from the company.
The Indiana Oath Keepers, a local chapter of the national militia group, was granted tax-exempt status as a ‘public safety’ non-profit by the IRS in 2017.
‘We are currently reviewing the list of organizations enrolled in the program to determine if there are additional groups we should remove,’ a representative for the company told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oath Keepers Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl appear in paramilitary gear in the Capitol
A Kroger spokesperson told the outlet that the militia received only a ‘nominal’ amount of money from the company.
However, a representative told the Washington Post that Kroger had not directed and charitable money or corporate grants to the militia.
‘Law enforcement and news media organizations observed that members of a paramilitary organization known as the Oath Keepers were among the individuals and groups who forcibly entered the capitol,’ a criminal complaint obtained by DailyMail.com shows.
Thomas Caldwell, 65, an Oath Keepers member who is considered to have a leadership role, was arrested by the FBI with two other conspirators and slammed with several charges including conspiracy to impede or injure an officer.
The FBI said that Caldwell, with 38-year-old Jessica Watkins and 50-year-old Donovan Crowl, were involved in the planning and coordinating of the Capitol breach and plotted in advance to kill politicians.
It remains unclear whether any members of the Indiana Oath Keepers were involved in storming the Capitol.
Members of the Oath Keepers provide security to Trump ally Roger Stone the night before groups attacked the U.S. Capitol
‘The Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy to strip American citizens of their rights,’ the complaint reads.
The militia, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, has been called ‘one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the U.S. today.’
‘While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans,’ according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
What are the Oath Keepers?
The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009, describes itself as a ‘non-profit association’ of current and former first responders and military veterans who seek to uphold their oaths of enlistment.
The loosely organized group also allows in ‘associate members’ who are ‘patriotic citizens’ that have not served in uniform, according to the nonprofit’s website.
Military and law enforcement oaths asks those swearing in to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against al enemies, foreign and domestic.’
‘Oath Keepers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds with one common bond – the oath to defend the Constitution,’ the website reads.
According to the militia, ‘there are oath breakers galore in both major parties.’
However, watchdogs that monitor the activity of hate groups and domestic terrorism have repeatedly described the group – which is headquartered in Las Vegas — as extremist or radical.
‘The real goal of these militias, which have since been renamed Civilian Preparedness Teams, is to prey upon the fears and concerns of local communities and revitalize the American militia movement, all under the guise of neighborhood watch and self-sufficiency,’ according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Anti-Defamation League has described the group as ‘heavily armed extremists with a conspiratorial and anti-government mindset looking for potential showdowns with the government.’
Sources: Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, OathKeepers.org
The militia’s ties to Kroger were first spotted by Sleeping Giants, a social media activism group which reveals fundraising efforts from far-right groups and aims to persuade companies from advertising with conservative news outlets.
The Oath Keepers are receiving revenue from the Amazon Smile charity program, Gizmodo reported. Shoppers can choose to donate 0.5% of their Amazon purchases to the militia.
An Amazon spokesperson told the outlet last month that charitable organizations would be removed from the program if determined to violate its eligibility terms.