Rebel Sheriffs Are Freaking Out Over COVID Vaccine Mandates That Don’t Exist

“Here we believe in America and freedom, and we’re gonna continue all of that,” Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona, said in a recent video.
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Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, Arizona, wants people to know that he’ll never require his department to get the vaccine against COVID-19. 

In a video posted to the county’s official Twitter account, Lamb appeared wearing a Stetson hat and a bulletproof vest emblazoned with the word “SHERIFF” to make his position on vaccine mandates crystal clear. 


“Here we believe in America and freedom, and we’re gonna continue all of that,” Lamb said. In a separate Instagram story, he likened vaccine mandates to “tyranny.” 

So why is Lamb, who’s not a public health official, making such a fuss about vaccine mandates, especially when no such mandate exists in Arizona or in Pinal County. (On the contrary, Arizona’s governor recently signed an order blocking local governments from adopting vaccine mandates.) 

Lamb is a prominent figure in the Constitutional Sheriffs movement, a quietly growing network of renegade law officers who believe God enshrined them with the highest constitutional authority in the U.S. and that they have a special right to ignore any laws they personally believe are unconstitutional. Now, he’s using his large platform and national profile to wade into the growing controversy around some local governments requiring that public employees, including sheriffs and their deputies, be vaccinated against COVID-19.

And other sheriffs appear to be following in his footsteps. 

On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Lamb put out his video about vaccine mandates, Sheriff Brian Wolfe of Malheur County, Oregon, released a letter vowing to resist any local vaccine mandate. (The prospect of a vaccine mandate in Malheur County, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the state and surging COVID-19 cases, appears to be low—officials have made it abundantly clear that they don’t intend to pursue any such requirements). 


Also on Tuesday, Sheriff Chad Cubbage of Page County, Virginia, jumped into the fray, posting his own video saying he intended to resist vaccine mandates—despite no such mandate existing in Virginia either.

While not all the sheriffs taking a stand against the concept of vaccine mandates are bona fide members of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), their stated intention of defiance and rebellion is, increasingly, consistent with the movement itself.

The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association was founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack in 2011, intended as a sheriff-centric spinoff from the Oath Keepers militia. Mack incorporated many of the ideas from the anti-government, militia, Posse Comitatus, and sovereign citizen movements that he’d forged alliances with over the years, and formalized them through the Constitutional Sheriffs movement. 

In a recent interview with VICE News, Mack said he’d trained at least 400 sheriffs, which VICE News was unable to independently verify. He also told VICE that his primary objective was not to enroll sheriffs as members, but rather, to get them onboard with his philosophy through training or otherwise. So when Mack sees sheriffs around the country acting in defiance of any laws, he takes a victory lap. 


“The Sheriffs of this country are realizing that yes, they have the authority to do this and they have the responsibility to stop all this tyranny.”

The influence of the Constitutional Sheriffs movement has been especially evident over the last year, as dozens of sheriffs nationwide, many of whom are self-identified adherents of the movement, defied lockdown orders, participated in “ReOpen” rallies, refused to enforce temporary bans on guns at polling places, and pushed 2020 election conspiracies.

Now, a tense political climate and never-ending barrage of culture war issues around COVID-19 restrictions have provided ample opportunity for sheriffs to step into the spotlight and make vague complaints about “freedom” and “tyranny.” 

Earlier this summer, Sheriff Bob Songer of Klickitat County, Washington, who has close ties to the Constitutional Sheriffs movement, threatened to arrest any state officials who try to enforce COVID-19 restrictions in his jurisdiction. (Washington state’s mandate is among the strictest in the U.S., and applies to state employees, health care workers, childcare providers, teachers, and higher education employees. It’s up to individual counties to expand mandates to include other groups, like sheriff’s deputies). 


“I will never, never support mandatory vaccinations,” Songer recently told Oregon Public Broadcasting—despite still being on oxygen and having just returned from a five-day stint in hospital for COVID-19.

And Lamb’s rising national profile, built initially through his involvement with anti-immigration groups, got a major boost last May when he defied Arizona’s stay-at-home order, and was invited on Fox News to talk about it. Dozens more sheriffs around the country, many of whom are bona fide constitutional sheriffs, jumped on the lockdown resistance bandwagon. (Lamb later became a national object of ridicule when he tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving at the White House for a scheduled meeting with former President Donald Trump). 

Lamb also drew national attention when he announced that he was forming a “civilian posse,” whom he hoped to call on should rowdy Black Lives Matter protests make their way into Pinal County. He also pushed the “Big Lie” that Trump won the 2020 election. And after a rabble of hardcore MAGA fans stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Lamb suggested that the real problem at hand was that “the Hillary Clintons have gone unpunished.” 


The attention is clearly paying off. Today, he sells t-shirts saying “AMERICAN SHERIFF” on his website and a book written by his wife titled “The Sheriff’s Wife: Holding it All Together in Public.” This year he also launched the ‘American Sheriff Network,” that promises to take viewers (at the subscription price of $4.99 a month) on virtual ride-alongs. The first episode, titled “YOU'RE A BITCH,” accompanied sheriff's deputies in Nye County, Nevada, as they responded to an extremely intoxicated man who was shouting obscenities at them. 

So it should be no surprise that Lamb has now inserted himself into the latest issue roiling the country: vaccine mandates. Some states, like Texas and Florida, have taken the drastic measures of banning even private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, despite surging COVID-19 rates and hospitals full of extremely sick people. Other states, like California, now require all state employees, school staff and healthcare workers to show proof of vaccination or be subject to routine testing. 

There are also local measures. San Francisco, for example, requires all public employees, including sheriff’s deputies, to show proof of vaccination. In response, some deputies threatened to quit—and others are now facing discipline or suspension for failing to comply. The sheriff of Monterey County, California, announced earlier this month that he would not require his deputies to get vaccinated, despite the local mandate for county employees. 

But Mack, the founder of the movement, was spreading conspiracy theories and stoking fears about “forced vaccinations” long before COVID-19 hit the U.S. (Back in 2009, it was “forced swine flu vaccinations). During a recent interview at the “Red Pill Expo” in South Dakota, Mack called the pandemic “a great big scam and propaganda scheme.” 

Earlier this month, Mack even released a video on the Constitutional Sheriffs website offering guidance to civilians about what they should do if their sheriff is requiring them to get vaccinated. He suggests they set up a meeting with their sheriff and tell them to take Mack’s training. 

“The sheriffs of this country are realizing that yes, they have the authority to do this and they have the responsibility to stop all this tyranny,” Mack said recently.