The Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office underwent training Friday with a lawyer who has compared the U.S. Capitol police to Nazi S.S. troops while promoting the “constitutional sheriff” movement.
Sheriff Chad Sheehan’s decision to invite KrisAnne Hall, a constitutional attorney from Florida, to train his deputies and speak to the public has provoked controversy in the western Iowa county.
On Friday, Hall led a training session for the sheriff’s staff, and she is scheduled to speak to the public on Saturday at Western Iowa Tech Community College. A group called We the People for Constitutional Sheriffs is sponsoring the free public event, which is hosted by the sheriff.
Sheehan has said no taxpayer dollars are involved in the training or the public event, although it’s not clear whether the county is paying the regular working-hour wages for deputies and others who attend the training session.
According to Sheehan, Hall was the keynote speaker and trainer at last year’s Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association state conference, which he describes as an annual training session for law enforcement officials across the state.
“She did a training that I attended that was on the history of the Constitution and understanding how the Constitution was formed,” Sheehan told the county board of supervisors at a meeting earlier this month.
Hall has repeatedly posted to social media videos and statements that suggest the federal government has no authority that exceeds that of the nation’s elected county sheriffs.
In one YouTube video, Hall and a colleague describe government decisions to close down businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as unlawful and describe that as one area where sheriffs could assert their authority by refusing to allow such closings.
In another video, Hall suggests America is a “full-on Marxist” state that is bent on forcing people to become vaccinated against COVID-19. “Because this is America, they have to feed you lies to keep you under their Marxist agenda,” she says.
In that same video, she questions the authority of the U.S. Capitol police, whom she compares to Nazi Germany’s S.S., or Schutzstaffel, and the FBI to arrest and detain those involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol if they travel outside the District of Columbia.
“These Capitol police say, ‘Oh, we’re just aiding the FBI,’ ” Hall says in the video. “The FBI does not have jurisdiction in your state, your county, or your city … The sheriff can override the governor and kick the feds out of the county … The feds know they don’t have jurisdiction. They know this. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to trick your sheriff into mutual-jurisdiction agreements by dangling trinkets and gifts of money to your sheriff … They’re putting the Capitol police in your city because you have no control over them and they will have no loyalty, and no submission to you, whatsoever. They will be blind enforcers, like the S.S., just carrying out the bidding of the next tyrant that’s in office.”
In 2010, Hall was fired from her job working for the North Florida State Attorney’s Office after speaking at Tea Party rallies and to groups such as the 9/12 Project, an organization formed by former right-wing commentator Glenn Beck.
According to a lawsuit filed by Hall, her boss had asked her in an email to stop speaking to what he called “fringe right-wing groups” and also asked her to “disassociate yourself from these folks.” After she refused, she was fired. Hall’s lawsuit against her boss was settled out of court in 2011.
A promotional poster for Saturday’s event, which the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office has posted to its website, reads” “Are you losing your freedoms and liberties? Learn how to get them back!” The poster describes Hall as a “military intelligence cryptologist linguist,” a Florida state prosecutor, professor at River University, and a national speaker on constitutional issues.
Sheriff defends Hall’s recruitment
Hall and Sheehan could not be reached for comment this week, but the sheriff sent the Iowa Capital Dispatch a copy of a press release announcing Saturday’s event.
In the press release, Sheehan says he feels “it is important to have an informed public who know their rights and felt this was an opportunity to do just that.”
Speaking to citizens at the county supervisors’ meeting who questioned Hall’s involvement in law enforcement training, Sheehan said, “If you disagree (with Hall), I will protect your right that is afforded to you in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which isn’t given to you by the government but is given to you by God. And the Constitution says that it can’t be infringed upon. And I will protect — to the death, if necessary — (your right) to counter anything that she would say that you disagree with.”
Sheehan told the supervisors, “The only reason I decided to have KrisAnne Hall come is that after I attended (the state association) meeting, she was very challenging of us to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that we are elected, as law enforcement officials, to ensure that we protect everybody’s rights.”
He said Hall is aligned with those believe in a literal reading of the U.S. Constitution, and added that he has “learned a lot” from her training.
“And so I was contacted by another sheriff who was working with this group,” he told the supervisors. “And just so you know, this group is We the People for Constitutional Sheriffs — it is not a national group. This is just a group of people from eastern Iowa – maybe 10 or 15 people … They want to educate their fellow citizens about the Constitution.”
One Woodbury County citizen, Linda Santi of Sioux City, has filed a written request with the county seeking more information on the two events.
In a March 7 letter to Sheehan and other county officials, Santi asked whose money is being used to pay for the events and whether it was routed through the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office. She has also asked for details on Friday’s training session, and requested information on whether deputies and others who attend are being paid to do so.
She has yet to receive any answers.
“So far it, has just been crickets,” Santi said. “I’ve just been perplexed that the sheriff says, ‘No tax dollars are being used here,’ as if that’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.’”
In 2019, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Hall had addressed the Florida chapter of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that the SPLC considers a hate group. The league has stated that its “end goal is to establish an independent Southern republic,” and its president, Michael Hill, has been quoted as saying “the browning of America, and my native South, was not something to which I assented, and I surely do not approve of it.”
In defense of her decision to speak to the group, Hall told the SPLC that “our states are not fiefdoms under subjugation to an unquestionable despot.”
On her Facebook page, Hall calls herself a “true Patrick Henry of our time” and a “steadfast warrior in the battle for liberty.” She has been a guest on Newsmax, Fox News and InfoWars, the web-based program hosted by Alex Jones, recently sued by parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for describing the shooting as a false flag event.
Sheehan has said he scheduled the public event with Hall for Saturday so citizens could hear what she would say during the training session for his deputies on Friday. He said the public event will also provide an “opportunity to educate the public on our rights, liberties and freedoms.”
Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: email@example.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.