Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, Forceful on Jan. 6, Privately Are in Turmoil

The far-right group the Oath Keepers is splintering after board members accused the founder of spending its money on hair dye, steaks and guns. The leader of the Proud Boys, choked off from the financial system, is printing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts to make money.

The finances of the two most visible groups with members involved in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol are sputtering. Leaders are low on cash, struggling with defections and arguing with members over the future.

The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have seen more than three dozen of their members or affiliates arrested in connection with Jan. 6. Prosecutors are investigating the money trail that led the groups to Washington that day and examining the roles played by the Proud Boys’ leader, Enrique Tarrio, and the founder of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, neither of whom entered the Capitol building.

In late April, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents surrounded Mr. Rhodes in unmarked vehicles in Lubbock, Texas, seized his iPhone and served him a search warrant, said the Oath Keepers’ general counsel, Kellye SoRelle. The warrant sought evidence about any “planning, preparation or travel” to breach the Capitol on Jan. 6, including any “tactical training” or weapons procurement. His phone has since been returned.

Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers appeared well-organized at the Capitol, some coordinating with walkie-talkies and wearing military-style outfits. Behind the facade of power is a yearslong cash crunch exacerbated by internal discord and isolation from financial firms and social media. Fallout from Jan. 6 made it all worse.