Updated with response from Akin's spokesperson Rick Tyler.
In 1995, a month before the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, Todd Akin sent a local militia group what he later called "a courtesy letter."
The now-defunct group, the 1st Missouri Volunteers militia, had invited Akin to speak at a rally but at the last minute he bailed--no harm, no foul. Yet Akin has been asked to explain that letter, and more broadly his relationship to the militia movement, many times since his first run for national office in 2000.
In August 2012, Akin--as he has done repeatedly over the years--dismissed any connection to the group that believed in their right to bear arms to defend against violations of the Constitution.
But that wasn't true. In an article that appeared in the Springfield News-Leader on May 5, 1995, Akin readily admits that he is well acquainted with the 1st Missouri Volunteer Militia and personally reviewed their paramilitary "unit".
John Moore, a radical pro-life activist and the "colonel and commander" of the 1st Missouri Volunteer Militia, said his group was formed to aid local authorities in disaster relief but also to defend anyone whose constitutional rights were being violated.
"If a Jewish synagogue were in trouble, we'd be the first ones there," Moore told Joe Holleman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a March 19,1995 article. "We'd be there before the American Civil Liberties Union would. And who would you want, anyway? People who would fight for your rights, or people who file lawsuits?"
The militia movement came under fire in April 1995, after Timothy McVeigh, a militia movement sympathizer who was upset at the federal government over its handling of the Waco siege and Ruby Ridge incident. The 1st Missouri Volunteer militia was mentioned in a 1995 Anti-Defamation League report that came out after the Oklahoma City bombing called, "Beyond the Bombing: The Militia Menace Grows." Todd Akin defended Moore's group and said that the young movement could be an asset to federal law enforcement (Akin said this, by the way, a month after the Oklahoma City bombing).
"There's a lot of potential for good; on the other hand, if you let the thing be infiltrated by a bunch of Skinheads; that would be a problem," he told the Springfield News-Leader, referencing popular perceptions that militia groups were actually fronts for hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
Akin also told the News-Leader that he met with Moore and "checked out the unit." Guess he forgot about that five years later, when he told Eric Stern of the Post-Dispatch, that he turned down an invitation to speak at a militia conference because he was uncomfortable with the 1st Missouri Volunteer militia.
"I did not want to speak there," Akin told Stern in 2000. "I didn't want to have any part of it."
Akin's campaign spokesman Rick Tyler resolutely denied that the congressman has or ever had any realtionship with the 1st Missouri Volunteers.
"There's no connection here," Tyler, a former spokesman for Newt Gingrich, said on Wednesday afternoon. "Congressman take lots of meetings with lots of different kinds of groups, at least hundreds, sometimes thousands per year."
When asked if Congressman Akin was ever interested in the militia movement, Tyler said his candidate "has explicitly said that he never wanted anything to do with these people."
This development follows a recent string of revelations about Akin's past connections to fringe groups. Last week the Post-Dispatch revealed that Akin had been arrested four times with a far-right pro-life group that believed in blockading abortion clinics. He was also one of Tim Dreste's very few donors when the controversial activist ran for a seat on a St. Louis County board in the 1990s.
Full article from the Springfield News-Leader on the next page. A copy of the article, that appeared in the Springfield News-Leader in 1995:
Josh Glasstetter, research director of People for the American Way (a progressive advocacy group), dug up this article in the microfilms of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Apparently, Akin's statements here haven't received any media attention since they were first published.
An excerpt of the relevant parts of the article:
As for legislators who have talked at militia events - two St. Louis-area legislators did that in March - that's their choice, he said.
That's obviously something the governor would not do," Sifford said.
Carnahan might not be giving the militias a chance, one legislator said.
No friend of the governor, Rep. Todd Akin, R-St. Louis, said he passed up a chance to speak at the 1st Missouri Volunteers rally in March because of scheduling conflicts and because he thought the militia had to earn the community's respect. [...]
Although Akin didn't speak at the rally, he subsequently talked to the 1st Missouri's commander and checked out the unit.
"There's a lot of potential for good; on the other hand, if you let the thing be infiltrated by a bunch of Skinheads; that would be a problem," he said.
A volunteer group under a unified command would have been useful during the 1993 floods and would be valuable if the New Madrid Fault snaps, he said.
Akin said he's talked to the 1st Missouri commander John Moore and considers him "a very sober fellow" and also sought the opinions of others, including a Jewish group.
"I have no indication from anybody they're anything other than what they present themselves to be," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Akin spoke to Jo Mannies about the 1st Missouri Volunteer militia in 2000. Akin actually spoke to Eric Stern of the Post-Dispatch. The error has been corrected above.
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