The leader of a Colorado-based militia says some businesses impacted by the Marshall Fire are paying his members to provide security at their locations. John Tiegen leads the United American Defense Force (UADF), the militia division of far-right conspiracist group FEC United.
“We have UADF members that are up there providing overwatch, kinda fire watch, because they’ve got equipment up there that’s helping the buildings where all the supplies are,” said Tiegen. “But unfortunately you’ve got people who take advantage of that and try to steal stuff or try to break into things. The fire watch had to stop a couple people from doing just that up in Boulder. So UADF members are up there providing that aid to the community, because it benefits the community. Plus they are being paid- the businesses are paying them to keep watch, but the money stays within the state.”
The Marshall Fire burned homes in Superior and Louisville, both of which are within Boulder County. It’s unclear if Tiegen is referring to the county or the City of Boulder. Tiegen did not immediately respond to a text message request for comment. A spokesperson for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office says they are unaware of any such activity in the town of Superior and noted that with the many additional patrols taking place there it’s likely deputies would have noticed any private security. The Louisville Police Department did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication. This article will be updated with any responses received.
UADF’s umbrella organization, FEC United, was founded by Joe Oltmann following his online activism in opposition to state and local public health restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. The group worked closely with Colorado Republicans during the 2020 election season. Current party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown, then serving as Vice Chair, simultaneously served as FEC United’s president.
During Brown’s leadership, FEC United and UADF organized a “Patriot Muster” in October 2020 that turned deadly. Following the event, a private security guard hired by 9News shot and killed a muster attendee after he had pepper sprayed and slapped the guard. The Denver District Attorney filed 2nd degree murder charges against the guard, who was unlicensed. The City of Denver requires a license to “[protect] individuals or property from harm…” The state of Colorado does not have such a requirement however, making it one of just nine states that permits private security guards to operate without any regulations. Following the deadly shooting, Colorado legislators proposed a bill last year to introduce licensing requirements for the industry, but the bill died in committee.
Tiegen made his statements on The Modern Patriot podcast, which he hosts along with Steph Lee, a shared employee of FEC United and UADF. The podcast aired on an alternative conservative streaming site called DLive, which gained popularity with rioters broadcasting their storming of the U.S. Capitol last year. The New York Times describes the site as “a haven for white nationalists.”
Social media giant Meta removed FEC United (including UADF) from its Facebook and Instagram platforms last week, citing violations of the sites’ terms of services, according to Lee. While she complained that the company wouldn’t explain its decision, a commenter posted racist and antisemitic comments in the podcast chat.
“Both Rep/Dems bow to Israel. Unfortunately blacks are too dumb to see they are being used as a weapon to takeover. Jewgle,Dancing Isrealis,” wrote one commenter. “…Pfizer’s CEO is a Jew Moderna Created by Jew.”
The two hosts also discussed conspiracy theories, including the widely debunked “space laser” conspiracy that California wildfires were caused by satellite arsonists. Tiegen brought up that item in response to Lee proposing an even more outrageous conspiracy: the federal government may have intentionally caused the tornados that leveled towns in Kentucky and other midwestern states last December, killing at least 90 people. Lee believes the goal was to “dampen private property” ownership and promote the “climate change agenda.”
Lee: “I have a theory, I know it’s a little bit out there. Between California and now here with the fires, and then the five states affected by the tornadoes, It’s super-odd. If you look at the pattern that happened with the tornadoes, that is not natural. That doesn’t just happen. Maybe a coordinated effort to dampen private property ownership? Remember the communists in 2021 and 2020, when they were saying, ‘we’re going to take your homes from you. We’re going to make sure you can’t rebuild?’ These are people who want everyone on the system. They don’t want people to own private property. What easier way—a non-confrontational way—than with natural disasters? Because at that point what are you going to blame? Climate change! We know their agenda there!”
Tiegen: “You never know.”
Lee: “That’s my theory.”
Tiegen: “Just like they’re saying a lot of California fire were started satellites shooting their laser beams down.”
Lee: “Direct energy weapons!”
Tiegen: “That’s why Space Force started, so they could shoot the satellites down. They were saying they were Russian or Chinese satellites that were doing it. I’ve read all kinds of stuff.”