Michael Brian Vanderboegh (born July 23, 1952 in St Joseph, Michigan; died August 10, 2016 in Pinson) was an anti-government militia group founder and website publisher who advocated violent resistance to United States law.
He was one of three children born to David and Norma Vanderboegh of Michigan.
Vanderboegh has claimed to have first become involved in anti-government activism through left-wing groups in the 1960s, including Students for a Democratic Society, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Maoist Progressive Labor Party. He said he parted ways with Communism after being introduced to Friedrich von Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" in 1977. He moved to Alabama after divorcing his first wife in 1985. He became interested in Alabama's Civil War history and researched Winston County's efforts to secede from the Confederate States of America. He spent time as a Civil War reenactor with the 1st Alabama Union Calvary Company C and the La Grange Living History Association.
Vanderboegh became active in the "Patriot" movement immediately following the FBI's 1993 raid of a compound in Waco, Texas. As a leader in the Alabama Militia and the Sons of Liberty, Vanderboegh staked out a "moderate" position, distinguishing himself from similar groups with overtly racist or neo-Nazi ideologies. He and Montana activist and writer Stewart Rhodes founded the "Oath Keepers". In the mid-2000s, Vanderboegh led an "Alabama Minuteman Support Team" which traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to join other civilians in attempting to capture undocumented migrants.
In April 2009 Vanderboegh and Rhodes co-founded a group called the Three Percenters (or III Percenters), a movement focused on resistance against gun control legislation and its enforcement. He disavows those who have adopted Three Percenter symbols for organized groups, saying that large organizations are susceptible to infiltration and dysfunction. He has participated in many online forums and published his own "Sipsey Street Irregulars" weblog, which he has used to implore vandalism against Democratic Party offices and officials' homes to show opposition to weakened immigration policies and passage of the Affordable Care Act. He also published "whistleblower" accounts from ATF agents warning of problems with the Bureau's problematic "Fast and Furious" sting aimed at tracking high-powered weapons used by Mexican drug cartels. He was invited several times to appear on FOX News as an expert commentator on the operation, and attended Senate Judiciary Committee hearings with support from the Gun Owners of America.
He also wrote an unpublished novel and self-described "field manual" advocating violence against government agents. That book has been implicated as in inspiration for Frederick Thomas' 2011 plot to bomb federal buildings and assassinate government officials in four Georgia cities. Vanderboegh sent threatening letters to Connecticut legislators when they passed new gun controls in the wake of the Newton school shooting, and published the home addresses of their families. He also claimed to have personally violated Connecticut's gun laws by smuggling high-capacity magazines into the state illegally and encouraging others to do likewise. In 2014 Vanderboegh's group participated in a standoff with federal officials at Cliven Bundy's Clark County, Nevada cattle ranch, and claimed a victory when authorities decided not to use force. He added a specific threat of mutilation against Senator Harry Reid.
Vanderbeogh did not support the actions of a group calling itself ""3 Percenters of Idaho", which included Bundy's son Ammon, when they broke into a closed visitors center at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon in 2016.
Vanderboegh lived in Pinson on federal disability due to diabetes, hypertension and congestive heart failure. He died of cancer in August 2016. He was survived by his second wife, Rosey, and three children; Matthew, Hannah and Zoe.
- Mencimer, Stephanie (December 14, 2011) "Meet the Former Militiaman Behind the Fast and Furious Scandal" Mother Jones
- Elliot, Rebecca (July 2, 2012) "Meet The Camo-Clad, Gonzo Bloggers Behind The Fast And Furious Story" BuzzFeedNews
- Proyeck, Louis (January 5, 2016) "Mike Vanderboegh: portrait of an agent-provocateur" Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist
- "Michael Brian Vanderboegh" obituary (August 12, 2016) The Birmingham News
- "Michael Brian Vanderboegh profile at the Southern Poverty Law Center