(This is part two of an exclusive three part series on Tasha Adams and her marriage to the Oath Keepers founder, and accused January 6 seditionist, Stewart Rhodes. Please click here for part one.)
The Eye Patch and the Feds
Before discussing the details of her transition from graceful ballroom dance instructor to the freshest face at the Glitter Gulch, or her years of marriage to an incarnation of modern evil, one part of the Tasha Adams' story had to be accounted for.
“Tasha, as you know, we have a candidate for Governor here in Nevada, Michele Fiore, who was with your husband at Bunkerville, at the Bundy Ranch. And in all their pictures together and the videos, your husband doesn’t have his patch in 2014 or in any photos I’ve seen before the standoff and then, all of a sudden, that patch appears…”
Laughingly interrupting, she began answering my question.
“No, you're right he didn’t have it before. The patch didn’t come until after Bundy. So ridiculous, so disgusting. He used to have this prosthetic and it fit nicely. He was handsome,” Tasha trailed off into an almost wistful state, “but then he stopped caring and the infection happened and, finally, he finally looked like the monster he is.”
For the first time during our conversation the line went silent.
Pushing forward, I had to know.
“After Bundy, he changed. Drastically. He was always pretty gross, never very hygienic, but then he stopped showering, brushing his teeth, he stopped cleaning his orbital socket, stopped caring about the (fake) eye, and it became infected. And…”
Processing what was being said became impossible. Finally, abruptly, I cut her off.
“Your husband, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, didn’t brush his teeth, didn’t shower, and let his head and face become infected until he needed that idiotic patch?”
Expecting a giggle, Tasha’s voice instead took on an inflection of detached sobriety.
“The infection was ignored for so long and it spread so deep that it warped the inner boney structure of the hollow opening to the point that the implant didn’t fit anymore. His normal doctor couldn’t clean it out, a specialist had to be called.”
Another pause, ever so slight, ensued.
Maintaining the same cadence, the same detachment, Tasha Adams casually, nearly rhetorically added that “Bundy, and all that, changed him. He couldn’t handle the pressure.”
Incredulously, and with some disbelief, I challenged her.
“Tasha, excuse me, this is bizarre, a grown man doesn’t just stop cleaning himself, doesn’t just let an infection fester to the point of affecting his appearance. What pressure? What happened at Bunkerville, as insane as this guy seems, to so radically affect him?”
Her giggle briefly reappeared, the casual tone of earlier returning, if only for a moment.
“Yeah, right? And I had to live with that.”
And then she provided me with the only answer which made sense in hindsight.
“I’m pretty sure…”
Her words came carefully; measured; clear.
“I’m pretty certain that working with the Feds destroyed him, destroyed his sense of being in control…”
For this first time, cutting her off, not in the spirit of friendly banter, but to take control of the moment.
“OK, Tasha. I am asking you one question. Did Stewart flip? I’ll ask it another way. Was Stewart Rhodes a federal informant?”
Seemingly amused by my forcefulness, Adams’ willingly elaborated.
“After the others were arrested, he didn’t want to discuss it much, but he became even more paranoid than he was before, not only did he stop cleaning himself, he started to cut himself off further from society, and he just became even more weird about the federal government in general.”
Taking a short breath, she jumped ahead to 2016 and the Malheur Refuge occupation in Oregon led by one of Cliven Bundy’s sons.
“When Malheur happened, Stew went crazy. He just kept pacing back and forth saying over and over, ‘Ammon (Bundy) ruined it for us, Ammon (Bundy) ruined it,’ and he was just agitated. And I know the feds came around and he wrote that letter and went on the radio.”
She summed up her thoughts.
“Let me be clear. I think he worked with the government, that Stew worked as an informant for the Feds on occasion, traded them information and gave them what they asked for. It broke him.”
My last question on the topic was one I wasn’t sure I wanted an answer to.
“Was Stewart working for the feds on January 6th?”
Adams offered a stark response.
“No, not at all. I think he may have done it because he finally, fully broke and if they (the government) knew it was coming maybe they were happy to be done with him?”
Stripping and Babies
Even with a libertine ethos, and the built in acceptance of Sin City, Stewart Rhodes obsession with convincing his young girlfriend to work as an exotic dancer exposed a flaw in his character that would define him until he founded the Oath Keepers. He didn't want to work.
“Yes, he wanted me to dance, to strip. Listen, Stew hated working or let me correct myself, he hated working with people and for people and at that point in his life, his only way out of having to do anything resembling a job was for me to support us. So I did it starting in ‘93.”
Needing to be certain that this actually became her career, that Tasha Adams worked as a topless performer to support her and Stewart Rhodes, I framed the scene.
“Here you are, young, just turned 21, and this man, absolutely presenting himself as some alpha type, he’s getting a small disability check from the military, and decides he wants to go to school, and just study. He’s shot out his own eye, you stayed with him, basically nursing him and then he says one day ‘hey get out there on stage,’ and next thing you are down on Fremont Street dancing at the Gulch?”
Digesting the multiple layers of my question, her reply was matter of fact.
“Pretty much yes to all of what you just laid out. It didn’t happen overnight, he was always so envious and greedy, and knew what girls could make and he looked at me as an asset or some sort of tool to use for his gain. So he didn’t care. In fact, he’d get mad that I didn’t do more, to make more.”
“Ok. Hold on. You were making how much?”
“$200, sometimes more.”
Again, wanting to be sure that we were discussing the same thing, I pushed Tasha for further clarification.
“Stewart Rhodes, your future husband, wanted you to prostitute yourself to guys, in addition to just doing your thing on stage? $200 a night was very good money in the early 90’s. This doesn’t make sense. Was he turned on by it sexually?”
Once more an answer from Tasha cascaded in an unfathomable direction.
“I was at the Glitter Gulch for just a few weeks, getting used to it, and I realized that the power dynamic was different than in any other part of my life. That I was in control up there, that I meant something. So I took to it quicker than I ever imagined. Basically night and day from who I was in public to who I was as a dancer, and that confidence helped me get a job at Club Paradise, which was the spot for celebrities and mob guys then. Some of the girls were making $700 or even $1,000 a night, but they had to do stuff, and go off with the men and I wasn’t willing to, and I wasn’t going to, and this caused so many problems with Stew. He would get so angry, so jealous, so abusive, most nights for years. Just pissed that I wouldn’t go off and do that stuff, have sex and sell myself. He felt I was wasting my time. And then I got pregnant and he pushed for Japan, and when he finally realized I wasn’t going, he really stopped seeing me as useful. Especially once he finished UNLV, I was just there taking his abuse, taking care of him, taking care of our kids, and trying not to lose touch with reality.”
“For all his aggressiveness, for all his dominance, how could he push for that? Tasha, I don’t get it?”
“He’s a sociopath or psychotic, he’s definitely something, and absolutely narcissistic, and sexually yes, some stuff was going on with the thought of me and the men.”
Adams’ next words stunned.
“I had two miscarriages, and one still birth. This was well into our marriage. He used the still birth as an attempt to get the couple he was having sex with to come and befriend me, out of sympathy or whatever, and I saw the emails. That’s how his mind works, that's what he was thinking of when we lost our child. He was so sick in the head, and tried to mess me up every chance he could. Another time, a couple of years after he founded the group, the Oath Keepers’ board was planning to suspend him, or remove him, and we thought there was a chance I’d lost a baby, so he scheduled the conference call to be held at the medical office. When we found out I’d lost the child, he called in to the meeting, and then put me on speaker and announced what had happened, and they gave him a reprieve while offering their sympathies to me. Another time, during a pregnancy, I started bleeding heavily, and watching me, he threw me a blanket and kicked me out of our room, telling me to sleep on the floor so I wouldn’t mess up the house.”
Difficulty in forming any cogent follow up led to my offering to end our talk for a bit.
Tasha Adams forged on, but not before adding that Stewart Rhodes, “Never missed a chance to exploit anyone, even his dead children.”
Marriage, Ron Paul, and Yale
Resplendent in a white bridal gown, accessorized with a brilliant; gleaming smile, Tasha watched whatever notion of a fairy tale she still clung to at her Vegas ranch wedding dissipate into a tortured hell of an existence. In a feeble attempt to cling to sanity and self, a myopic focus on her children, running, and the use of a self taught mantra, allowed her to remain among the living, if not be actually alive.
“Stew graduated college, finally, and couldn’t get a job, people didn’t like him in person, but he was always good at writing so he sent off some applications to Washington, for internships, and he always thought of himself as a Libertarian, and Ron Paul’s office contacted him and they communicated back and forth. He actually got hired for a paid position and we moved east.”
Knowing her sheltered upbringing, and as an adult her lack of freedom, I immediately wondered how Tasha adjusted to life in DC, as well as to being the spouse of a Capitol Hill staffer.
“We lived at the furthest point on the metro line in Virginia. I only met his colleagues a few times, and I went to maybe one party? I didn’t leave the house much, Stew hated his work, and we left there pretty quickly. He hates women, or having to listen to them, and his boss in Congressman Paul’s office was a woman, and he either quit or was fired. One day he came home and told me we were leaving and we left.”
23 years before being arrested for planning a rebellion against the United States at his former place of employment, congressional employee Stewart Rhodes left one day in an unceremonious huff. In addition to his work with Paul, a few days after our initial set of interviews, Adam’s sent me a picture of Rhodes with Federal Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen of Nevada, with whom he interned for a short time as well.
Returning to Vegas, driven by growing grandiosity; more certain than ever in his greatness, a highly embellished admissions’ letter, which he sent to multiple esteemed law schools, propelled Stewart Rhodes to Yale. In addition to the Connecticut institution both Harvard and Columbia had admitted the UNLV grad to their programs..
It was there in New Haven where Tasha Adams learned that running, while pushing a three seat stroller, helped her to momentarily escape an ever more imprisoned existence.
She also learned to repeat two simple words as a way to stay out of trouble with the burgeoning domestic terrorist. Over and over Adams would utter the line “Stay Sweet,” in hopes of making it through another day.
Upon Rhodes graduation, heading back west with a degree that bolstered his megalomaniacal tendencies, Tasha Adams recognized the role she was consigned to in her own life.
“After we left Yale, I knew then, and he didn’t try to hide it, Stew saw me as a breeder and servant. That was my lot. That was my life.”
(Coming up in part three: Adams recalls the founding of the Oath Keepers, Rhodes' legal career, life in the woods of Montana and what happened once since she started divorce proceedings and what has gone on in her life since the insurrection. You go donate to Tasha Adams' divorce costs at by clicking on Go Fund Me here)