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Collin County Constable Joe Wright says he doesn’t support extremism — but the ADL says otherwise

Constable Joe Wright.
Collin County
Constable Joe Wright was linked to the The Oath Keepers antigovernment group by the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday.

Collin County constable Joe Wright says he does not agree with extremist groups that want to overthrow the government. That's after the Anti-Defamation League identified Wright as a member of the Oath Keepers in a report released on Wednesday.

The Precinct 4 constable said said in an email to KERA on Wednesday evening that he accepted the The Oath Keepers' invitation when he first ran for constable in 2011 because he thought the group was inviting him to re-affirm his commitment to his oath of office if elected.

“At the time, I believed the Oath Keepers existed only to encourage elected officials to honor their oath of office, follow the law and to uphold the Texas and U.S. Constitution,” he wrote in the statement.

Wright said he never attended any of the organization’s meetings and never renewed his membership.

Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher on extremism with the ADL, said even if Wright has since left the organization, the fact that he joined is still cause for concern.

“There was something in that message that appealed to him,” Friedfeld said.

More than two dozen members of The Oath Keepers were arrested for their involvement in the attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

June Jenkins, the president of the Collin County NAACP chapter, said Wright’s connection to the Oath Keepers speaks to a deeper issue of rising incidents of extremism in the county.

“You’re starting to see repetitive incidents with people involved in this area,” she said.

Precinct 4 includes parts of Frisco, McKinney, Prosper and Celina. Wright’s current term as constable ends in 2024.

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Caroline Love is a Report For America corps member for KERA News.

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Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.