In a phone call last month, a member of a far-right paramilitary group tipped off an Arizona woman who gave congressional investigators information about the team’s efforts to push the big lie of Donald Trump that she could be hurt or killed if she continued to speak out.
“You put shit there. You follow people and take pictures,” Michael Kenny, a member of the Praetorian 1st Amendment, or 1AP, a shadowy ex-military group who worked with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, told Staci Burk during of the March 1 call. “You talk a lot in public, and that’s what makes you a target.” Burk is a former Republican activist currently studying for her law degree.
“There were a number of people, you ruffled their feathers,” Kenny said moments later. “If you put someone at risk of jail time, or you know, if you risk hurting them financially or otherwise, people get pissed off, you know? People don’t think clearly. You have to think of the easiest way.
Burk said she considered the call, during which Kenny raised the possibility that she could be murdered, a death threat. She reported the call to the FBI, she told me. She said it was the most overt of a series of threats she had received after media revealed she was cooperating with the select committee investigating the January 6 attack. Burk recorded the conversation and shared the audio with Mother Jones.
Listen to Kenny’s call to Burk:
“I was scared,” Burk said of the call. Her troubling conversation with Kenny caused her to briefly “retreat” from speaking to the Jan. 6 committee and reporters, she said, though she later resumed that cooperation.
Kenny, a trucker who said he served in the Navy and worked as a security contractor in Iraq and elsewhere, confirmed the call with Burk. He claimed, however, that he did not threaten her but “simply stated” that his actions put her in danger. “If she thinks it was threatening, well that’s her imagination working overtime,” he told me.
Burk, 47, has a crazy story to tell. She is a former Gilbert, Arizona school board president who, in 2020 aid for advance allegations of voter fraud in Arizona, including an allegation that fake ballots were flown to Phoenix. She provided a ballot affidavit to “Kraken” attorney Sidney Powell, who was then preparing lawsuits challenging Biden’s victories in several states. A judge quickly fired a lawsuit Powell filed in Arizona, describing it as stuffed with “gossip and innuendo.” A separate lawsuit that Burk filed was also thrown.
Weeks earlier, as Burk janointed in efforts to find voter fraud in Arizona, she was approached by members of the 1st Amendment Praetorian, founded in 2020 by author and former Special Forces Staff Sergeant Robert Patrick Lewis to provide security for prominent Trump supporters, including Flynn and Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexander, at rallies. Photos from a Dec. 12, 2020, Stop the Steal rally in Washington show Kenny acting as part of a security detail surrounding Flynn and Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, another far-right militia-style group. (Rhodes and 11 other Oath Keepers have been accused with seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to their actions leading up to January 6. He remains imprisoned in Washington pending trial.)
After the election, Lewis has mentioned, the group also began providing open-source intelligence to Powell, who, along with Flynn, shared conspiracy theories directly with Trump. flynn too called for Trump to deploy the military to seize ballots and voting machines and restart the election.
According to Burk, in late November 2020, Flynn personally sent 1AP members, including Kenny, to her home to protect her from alleged threats. rresulting from his allegations of electoral fraud. Rotating teams of three to five band members stayed at her home until mid-January. Burk said she was growing increasingly suspicious of the men, who she said were effectively imprisoning her to make sure she stood by her allegations. She also began to suspect that the alleged threats might have been faked by her supposed protectors. She began recording the men, as well as her phone calls with Flynn’s brother, Joseph, and a handful of ex-servicemen who helped Michael Flynn promote the voter fraud allegations.
In the text messages, Joseph Flynn did not directly challenge Burk’s account. “It’s not a story,” he wrote. He also said, “Anyone who reads Mother Jones is mentally unstable. I don’t want to encourage their disease.
Last year, Burk began talking to reporters investigating the Jan. 6 events. Beginning in August, she also participated in several interviews with committee investigators and provided her audio recordings to the panel. “They were super happy to talk to me,” Burk said. “They wanted everything on 1AP.”
The committee assigned Michael Flynn and lewis in November. Powell got a summons in January. A spokesperson for the panel did not respond to a request for comment. Michael Flynn, Lewis and Powell did not respond to inquiries.
In January, the New York Times reported that the committee had obtained “numerous audio recordings of 1AP members and were trying to determine how they fit into the larger investigation”. That same day, Burk said, Kenny messaged him, reconnecting after several months of silence. Burk said she believed Kenny was reacting to the Time report.
Kenny’s call on March 1, Burk said, came around the time a news outlet sent out fact-checking requests to 1AP members and others for an as-yet-unpublished story for which she acted as a source.
Kenny denied contacting Burk because reporters were sniffling. He said Burk is “reaching out to me” and he thinks she is “probing me for information” about 1AP’s activities. Burk, however, provided a screenshot showing Kenny calling her on March 1.
This March 1 call, which lasted just over 19 minutes, seems relaxed at first. Burk and Kenny discussed his dinner, a convoy of truckers then approaching DC, Covid vaccines and Jan. 6. Burk noted how scared she was that day, given the threats she believed she faced at the time.
Then Kenny seemed to spin. “It’s not necessarily over,” he said. “Shit happens.”
“Don’t you think if I had been killed, I would have been already?” Burk asked. Kenny replied, in part, “It just depends on what you do, you know? What you don’t do.
“If they think you’re a threat, or if they don’t, that could make a difference,” he added.
After discussing an unrelated shooting with a police officer, Kenny steered the subject in a seemingly threatening direction. “And if anyone that this guy [the shooting victim] was pals with, or a family member or associate decided, “I don’t like the way this turned out. I think I’ll take care of it myself? he asked.
“It could be painful,” Kenny added.
“I guess I’m not…I guess I don’t understand,” Burk said. “Yes, that would be awful.”
“What I’m saying is kind of an analogy,” Kenny replied. “The same applies to you as it does to this guy.”
Burk said she was still confused: “Like I ticked off someone, so their friends could sue me?”
“If you ticked someone off enough.” Kenni replied “Just think. Let your imagination soar with yourself. I’m sure you can understand that. You are not stupid. You don’t need me to fill in the gaps for you. You know exactly what I’m telling you.