WASHINGTON — An attorney representing a local man who has pleaded guilty to storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by the District of Columbia over his role in the attack.
In a motion filed March 10 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., an attorney representing former Columbus resident and heavy metal musician Jon Schaffer asked to join a series of motions to dismiss the lawsuit and some responses from other defendants, stating that the arguments made in those filings “similarly apply” to Schaffer.
The responses and other motions were filed last year by fellow members of the far-right Oath Keepers, as well as members of other far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, including a Georgia man who has pleaded guilty to charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding related to the attack.
As of Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta, who is presiding over the case, had not ruled on the merits of Schaffer’s request or the motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 14, 2021, by attorneys representing the office of D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, alleges that Schaffer and dozens of other defendants conspired to participate in the violent effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and injure former Vice President Mike Pence, according to court filings.
The District of Columbia further alleges that Schaffer and his co-defendants are liable for the damages and costs of dispatching hundreds of D.C. police officers to defend the U.S. Capitol during the attack.
The damages and costs include transportation, coordination and overtime expenses, as well as costs associated with emergency and other medical treatment for injured officers and paid leave for officers who could not work due to their injuries, according to an amended complaint filed April 1, 2022.
Schaffer, who formerly was a musician in the heavy metal band Iced Earth and member of the Oath Keepers, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to, among other things, breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, armed with bear repellent and obstructing an official proceeding.
Schaffer was one of the first six insurrectionists to push through the damaged doors of the Capitol and was photographed inside wearing a hat that said, “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member,” with bear spray in his hand, according to the lawsuit.
As part of his guilty plea in his criminal case, Schaffer acknowledged that he is “a founding, lifetime member of the Oath Keepers” and believes that “the federal government has been ‘co-opted’ by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
The Oath Keepers is a militia group that recruits current and former military, police and first responders.
The five motions to dismiss that Schaffer seeks to join essentially argue that the District of Columbia does not have standing to bring civil action against the defendants because the civil rights statutes cited in the District’s lawsuit limit “standing to injured federal officials or officers, not a governmental entity.”
“The statutes upon which the District relies provide standing for individuals to bring suits in their own names, but do not provide standing for the District as a governmental entity to bring suit on the individuals’ behalf,” one of the motions states.
For more on this story, see Sunday’s Republic.