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Faith Education Commerce

Faith Education Commerce, also known as FEC United, is an antigovernment group with its own militia that uses violent rhetoric when talking about public officials, propagates conspiracy theories and hosts and participates in activities related to disinformation and anti-democracy.

In Their Own Words

“They’re grooming them to be gay. This is a real thing – they are grooming your children so they can molest and abuse them.”
– FEC United leader Joe Oltmann on his March 15, 2022, podcast.

“You know, if you’re involved in election fraud, then you deserve to hang. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.”
– election conspiracist Shawn Smith, speaking about Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold at a Faith Education Commerce event at The Rock church in Castle Rock, Colorado, Feb. 10, 2022.

“There’s your list of 19 traitors to the American people, along with all the other traitors to the American people. I want people to go out there and get some wood. The gallows are getting wider and longer. We should be able to build gallows all the way from Washington D.C. to California.

“We just have a line of executions of traitors through the United States of America. If you guys don’t think that’s funny – I think it’s kind of funny, actually.”
– FEC United leader Joe Oltmann in response to his podcast co-host listing the names of 19 Senate Republicans who voted for a spending bill that kept the government open, Dec. 3, 2021.

“So that’s what I sent to Gov. Polis. Gallows. I had to stretch that rope”
– FEC United leader Joe Oltmann proposing the execution of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on his podcast, Dec. 3, 2021.

“I did call for the hanging of traitors 100 percent because traitors of the nation, if you go and look at what happens for treason it is punishable by death. And so, I think they should be hung two inches off the ground, so they choke to death.”
– FEC United leader Joe Oltmann confirming that he did call for hangings on his podcast after it was suggested that he was joking, December 2021

“They have an agenda, folks. They want to do everything they can to destroy what America stands for. Many of these school board members are radical extremists on the left. They’re terrorists. I am going to call them what they are.”
– FEC United leader Joe Oltmann talking about school board members on his May 13, 2021, podcast

“We have the authority and moral duty to protect ourselves and our compatriots. We will work to make sure a select group of individuals has access to the training, equipment, personnel, leadership, and other tools necessary to protect our communities when police are either unable or unwilling to help. Remember, nobody can protect you but you.”
– Faith Education Commerce website

Question by Charlie Cain, Eric Coomer’s attorney, to Joe Oltmann: “What makes someone, in your mind, an antifa journalist?”

Answer by Oltmann: “A radical leftist that communicates openly with other radical leftists that stand for antifa being antifascist, who are then themselves are the racist pedophiles and racists of our society. Typically white extremist liberals.”
– FEC leader Joe Oltmann deposition response page 41, lines 12-18, in a defamation suit brought by Dominion Voting Systems employee Erik Coomer against Oltmann based on statements Oltmann made about Coomer and his work


Faith Education Commerce, also called FEC United, is a Colorado-based organization founded by Joseph T. Oltmann, a used-car dealer and digital marketer.

Marine veteran John “Tig” Tiegen leads the group’s armed militia, the United American Defense Force (UADF). Tiegen previously provided annex security to the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, at the time of the U.S. embassy attack in 2012. His role earned him a place in a Michael Bay film about the incident. Tiegen’s history brings an air of quasi-legitimacy to the fringe extremist organization that he helps run.

Jeff Toborg, the mayor of Parker, Colorado, is a former board member for the organization. Kristi Burton Brown served as the group’s president until at least November 2020. Brown was also the Colorado Republican Party Chair from 2021 until 2023.

Faith Education Commerce has used its social and political influence at the local, state and federal levels to recruit new members and spread conspiracy theories about elections, public health, education and LGBTQ+ people, both in person and online. One theory Oltmann crafted was so pernicious and widespread that it made its way to former President Donald Trump’s team, who used it to bolster the “Big Lie” that voter fraud cost Trump the 2020 election.

The organization has coordinated and participated in a variety of activities related to antigovernment extremism and spreading disinformation. Some of those activities have included or been attended by politicians and political party figures, and one ended in a shooting.

Many FEC United events have supported declarations by electoral candidates who claimed they won elections that they actually lost. They also championed Tina Peters, a Colorado county clerk who was indicted for crimes related to election disinformation and publicly defended the jailed Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

Oltmann has called for violence against various public officials, both Republican and Democrat. He has also referred regularly to the “doctrine of the lesser magistrate,” a protestant belief regarding “divine justice.” Its modern-day interpretation asserts that disobedience against the government is justified when it goes against “God’s law.”

The founding of Faith Education and its citizens vigilante militia

Faith Education Commerce emerged from the unrest occurring in 2020.

Like most antigovernment groups that gained prominence that year, their activities and publicly stated beliefs aligned with the issues of the moment.

Among those issues was the pandemic, which fostered COVID-19 denialism and antagonism toward coronavirus-related health measures. Another was opposition to the Black Lives Matter protests that spread across the country after a police officer murdered George Floyd, an unarmed African American man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. The third was rejection of the 2020 presidential election results, including adherence to the “Big Lie.”

Faith Education Commerce appeared on the scene in July 2020. Leaders Oltmann and Tiegen were already involved in the COVID Reopen movement and opposition to Black Lives Matter protests earlier in the year, themes they carried over into the organization.

The group was originally a for-profit limited liability corporation (LLC) called Unite Colorado, which Oltmann said was set up to “hide all the numbers from the government.” They later converted to a 501(c)(3), (c)(4) and (c)(6).

In late July 2020, the group, now known as Faith Education Commerce or FEC United, began recruiting for their organization and UADF militia through informational meetings in multiple Colorado towns.

In August 2020, the organization’s website listed membership benefits that included “Insurance protection for Use of Force, discounts on ammunition, medical supplies, hard goods, soft goods, training and public safety notifications.”

Also on the web page was a group message titled “Defend and Protect What is Yours,” which promoted citizen vigilantism. “We can no longer rely on the protection from police,” it stated, asserting that “nobody can protect you but you.”

In October 2020, the organization attempted to expand into Wyoming. It also held a UADF “Patriot Muster” rally at Civic Center Park in Denver on Oct. 10, 2020. At least 30 armed citizens and militia members were present.

In a livestream on the day of the rally, Tiegen pointed out that a counteraction against the muster was taking place nearby. It was a canned-food drive by a group calling themselves BLM antifa. “I don’t want it to get violent,” he said, “but we’re ready for it.”

The day did end in violence. As the muster concluded, an attendee named Lee Keltner got into an altercation with a man standing near the location of the food drive who was unrelated to BLM antifa, although Keltner may not have known that. The man was Matthew Dolloff, a security guard for Colorado’s 9News who shot and killed Keltner after the confrontation escalated.

Dolloff was initially charged with second-degree murder, but the case was dropped in March 2022. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said: My heart goes out to the friends and family of Mr. Keltner. However, without provocation, Mr. Keltner verbally threatened and physically assaulted Mr. Dolloff and was the initial aggressor before being shot.” 

The 2020 election and the beginning of the ‘Big Lie’

After the October 2020 patriot muster, Faith Education Commerce pivoted to focusing on the 2020 presidential election, baselessly alleging voter fraud before the vote even occurred. The group would later become major proponents of Trump’s Big Lie.

On Oct. 9, 2020, the organization sent out an email titled “Poll Watching Urgent Action Requested.” The email alleged: “Democrats have been actively stacking the poll watching positions with their own people, and this will only contribute to the fraud and unethical practices they have been threatening since the beginning! Democrats across the country have made it perfectly clear that they will work tirelessly to win this election by any means necessary.”

The day after the election, on Nov. 4, 2020, UADF went out on private “patrol” in Colorado. On social media, Tiegen posted a photo of the militia showing a group of armed men with the headline “UADF recon team standing by in Denver! #ghost #16seconds.”

Earlier that evening, someone called the police on the UADF. This was after patrons and staff of the Lowes store in University Village saw 15 or more trucks of men suiting up in tactical gear outside the business, according to a witness at the scene. The trucks had left by the time law enforcement arrived, but police were able to identify the group as UADF.

The group also promoted the Nov. 7, 2020, “Stop the Steal” rally at the Colorado Springs Municipal Courthouse on its website prior to the event. Oltmann was a planned speaker. The announcement read, “We are standing in opposition to the cheating and outright corruption by the Democratic party in their attempt to steal the election and the US presidency!”

On Nov. 13, 2020, Oltmann filed an affidavit at the behest of Trump attorney Sidney Powell. He wrote that he had infiltrated an antifa Zoom call where a man named Eric told callers not to worry about the election, saying: “Trump is not going to win. I made fucking sure of that … Hahaha.”

Oltmann, who did not record the alleged call, claimed that the man on the call was Eric Coomer, who was the director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion sells voting machines and tabulators used in elections in the U.S. and abroad. Oltmann also claimed that he had found, through his own analysis, that “they” were “in fact using code and technology to ghost votes, switch votes or even remove probable ballots completely.”

The day Oltmann filed the affidavit, which Faith Education Commerce boasted about on its website, he made the same claims on a livestreamed interview with white nationalist sympathizer and conservative commentator Michelle Malkin.

Oltmann claimed that he identified Coomer by typing four words from his shorthand meeting notes into Google: “Eric, Dominion and Denver Colorado.”

Based on the Google search results from Oltmann’s keyword search – which brought up the name Eric Coomer, an employee of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems – Oltmann unscientifically deduced and publicly declared that Coomer, through Dominion, had interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

That same week, Donald Trump’s legal team shared Oltmann’s claims. On Nov. 19, 2020, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis held a televised press conference and repeated Oltmann’s allegations that Coomer was on a phone call with antifa.

They also claimed Dominion Voting Systems was tied to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Clinton Foundation and George Soros, whom the far right often targets with antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The lawyers presented Oltmann’s allegations as fact, along with the other claims against Dominion, despite Trump’s campaign having already debunked everything in an earlier internal memo from Nov. 14, 2020. This information came to light later in case documents where Trump was a defendant. The New York Times published news of this memo on Sept. 21, 2021.

“DOMINION’S LEADERSHIP HAS NO TIES TO ANTIFA” was the memo’s topline about Oltmann’s Coomer story. A subheading read, “There Is No Evidence To The Claim That Dominion’s Head Of Strategy And Security Has Ties To Antifa.”

After the press conference, Oltmann continued to circulate his allegations through Faith Education Commerce and other outlets. Right-wing media such as OAN, Newsmax and Fox News parroted the story.

During this time, Coomer said he was in hiding, telling the Associated Press for a Dec. 2, 2020, article that he had received daily threats.

On Dec. 22, 2020, Coomer filed a defamation lawsuit in Colorado state court against Joe Oltmann; his company Shuffling Madness, which hosts Oltmann’s online show “Conservative Daily”; and FEC United. Additional defendants included Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Michelle Malkin, author Eric Metaxas, Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit (also a defendant), Chanel Rion, her employer One America News Network (OAN), and Newsmax Media, Inc.

On March 26, 2021, Dominion Voting Systems included Fox News, suing them for defamation in a $1.6 billion lawsuit. The suit was later settled for $787 million on April 18, 2023.

On April 30, 2021, months after his lawsuit was filed, Coomer reached an undisclosed settlement with Newsmax Media, Inc. That same day, Newsmax issued Coomer a public apology on their website, declaring that they “found no evidence that such allegations were true.”

None of this seemed to deter Oltmann or Faith Education Commerce. On Sept. 1, 2021, Oltmann re-upped his allegations on his Facebook page, hinting that Coomer’s multitasked role at Dominion could only be found in “organized crime” and “government ops.”

On Sept. 17, 2021, Oltmann was deposed for the Coomer lawsuit. Oltmann evaded many questions and alleged that along with Coomer, the judge overseeing the case, Marie Avery Moses, was also associated with antifa.

On May 13, 2021, Judge Moses ruled that the special motion to dismiss filed by the lawsuits defendants was denied.

Judge Moses wrote in her decision:

Oltmann has encouraged his audience to harass Coomer with statements such as “I want everybody to put on their social media account, ‘Where is Eric Coomer?’” and Oltmann repeatedly called for violence, including calling for the civil war, and repeatedly asserting that Coomer could be put to death for treason. Oltmann has bragged about harassing and threatening Coomer’s friends and acquaintances, demanding incriminating information and promising retribution if they did not deliver.

On Aug. 30, 2023, Coomer’s case against the OAN news network and OAN anchor Chanel Rion, under its parent company Herring Networks, was dismissed when Herring settled with Coomer. The terms are undisclosed.

Coomer’s case against Oltmann is still ongoing.

Faith Education Commerce and continued election denialism

After Trump lost all his election appeals, Faith Education Commerce became increasingly focused on election conspiracy theories and continued to circulate disinformation. Meanwhile, the group grew, establishing new chapters in Michigan and Colorado.

On June 26, 2021, Oltmann attended the Phoenix, Arizona, premiere of the Big Lie election conspiracy movie The Deep Rig, in which he had been featured. Oltmann told the audience, “They took away our voice in this election, so we are going to have to do something after the election that is going to be pretty drastic.”

That July, Oltmann traveled to Anaheim, California, to participate in the ReAwaken America Health and Freedom Conference part of the MAGA-centric, antigovernment, anti-vaccine, conspiracy tour where speakers have insisted post-2020 election that Trump was still president.

Scheduled to speak alongside Oltmann were election conspiracy theorists and QAnon influencers including Mike Flynn, Patrick Byrne, Ann Vandersteel and Gene Ho, as well as extremist Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.

Oltmann rejoined the Reawaken America tour in San Antonio, Texas, for its Nov. 11-13 event, which Faith Education Commerce promoted on its website.

On Aug. 9, 2022, the organization held a screening of The Deep Rig at Fervent Church in Colorado Springs. The film description reads, “Follow the team of Patriots, Lawyers and ‘White Hat’ Hackers, determined to reveal the facts behind the headlines, to backroom scenes and through electronic networks designed to rig any election they conduct.” The event flyer promoted Oltmann’s interview with Michelle Malkin.

The group also hosted election townhalls on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, 2021, in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, Colorado. Oltmann spoke alongside election deniers David Clements, an attorney and former professor who touts conspiracies on his website and social media under the name “The Professor’s Record,” and Seth Keshel, a former Army intelligence officer who put out a debunked report alleging voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

On April 21, 2022, the FEC United chapter in Michigan held a speaker series featuring Patrick Colbeck and his book The 2020 Coup, which claims that it “takes bits and pieces of evidence from across America and knits them together into the definitive work on how the election was stolen.”

The organization spent the remainder of 2022 championing Tina Peters, a former Mesa County clerk in Colorado. Peters was initially indicted on March 8, 2023, by the Mesa County District Court.

The indictment alleged that Peters formulated a scheme after being told by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office that only the voting company and county staff could be present during a planned update to the county’s Dominion Voting Systems software, called a trusted build, on May 25 and May 26, 2021.

According to the indictment, Peters and election official Belinda Knisley schemed to get an employee access badge made for a man named Gerald Wood, then have another individual assume Wood’s identity so they could enter the area where the voting machines were held during the trusted build.

As part of this scheme, Knisley also had the cameras used to surveil the county election systems disabled. In August 2021, confidential images of the county’s voting equipment and passwords were posted on the internet.

Peters’s trial is scheduled for 2024. Jury selection is slated to begin on Feb. 9, 2024. Two of Peters’s former colleagues, Belinda Knisley and Sandra Brown, both pleaded guilty and reached an agreement to testify against Peters. After Peters was indicted, Faith Education Commerce rallied against her. Peters also ran for Colorado Secretary of State in 2022 – and lost.

On Feb. 10, 2022, the organization coordinated an emergency meeting at the Rock Church in Castle Rock, Colorado, where the group often congregated. Peters received a standing ovation, and election conspiracist Shawn Smith made comments that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold should be hung that were met with applause.

The group also promoted and provided security for an election-denial rally featuring Tina Peters at the Colorado Capitol on April 5. “If we don’t get people like Tina Peters and other people that have courage, we could lose our country forever,” Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, told the crowd.

Lindell and Oltmann have been linked through their election denial efforts. Lindell has been a guest on Oltmann’s podcast, and Oltmann spoke at a forum Lindell hosted. Oltmann also provided a deposition for the Coomer lawsuit against Lindell.

The fight over COVID-19

On top of election denial, the group also participated in public health protests related to COVID-19.

In 2021, the organization put out various calls to action urging members to protest and take part in campaigns against masking and COVID-19 vaccines.

On Aug. 9, 2021, the organization promoted a supposed vaccine information handout on college campuses. That event was billed as a way to “help share information and provide support and encouragement for those who stand up to tyranny.”

In October 2021, the UADF militia was also called into action to attend a Colorado Springs District 20 School Board meeting focused on mask mandates. In an Oct. 26 Colorado Times Recorder article, other attendees claimed, “The UADF members were combative and intimidating.”

Influencing education in Colorado

When critical race theory became a bogeyman across the United States in 2021 spurred by such right-wingers as Christopher Rufo, Faith Education Commerce, a group that claims education as one of its three pillars, exploited the issue to influence multiple Colorado school boards.

On June 23, 2021, UADF members dressed in military-style clothing attended a school board meeting in Cherry Creek, Colorado. They were there to protest Critical Race Theory, even though the school district did not teach it.

On the organization’s Facebook page, Oltmann said in a since-removed video:

They have an agenda, folks. They want to do everything they can to destroy what America stands for. Many of these school board members are radical extremists on the left. They’re terrorists. I am going to call them what they are.

You want to call white people racist. You want to do everything you can to destroy our community, our society. No. The answer’s no. All’s you got to do is say no.

We’re going to be going after the Douglas County school board.

Faith Education Commerce endorsed school board candidates in Douglas County and Cherry Creek. Christy Williams, their choice for the Douglas County School District Board, won her race in November 2021. Williams became the school board’s vice chair, but by the end of January, she became embroiled in controversy.

In a private meeting, Williams, alongside the school board’s president Mike Peterson, with whom she shared a campaign and campaign manager, told superintendent Corey Wise to quit or he would be fired.

This spurred multiple protests, including a teacher sick-out, a walkout by hundreds of students and a letter voicing concerns over the actions of Peterson and Williams signed by more than 80 school board presidents and vice presidents.

On its website, Faith Education Commerce disparaged attendees of a Feb. 2 rally to support Superintendent Wise. The group wrote on its website: “How many showed up to this rally? About 250 – 300 people, which was a mix of high school students who should have been in school, parents, and pro-Marxist critical race theory teachers.”

The group has also opposed LGBTQ+ educational materials and students’ rights in school and espoused falsities about the subject. In a since-removed video posted on the group’s Facebook page, Oltmann stated: “I’m all for creating peace and tranquility in our society. As long as we don’t have to accept gender fluidity, recruiting kids to be gay in elementary school. And that’s what it is. I mean you can say whatever you want, that’s not what they’re doing. That’s exactly what they’re doing when they’re doing the gayBC’s,” meaning the schools and curriculum are indoctrinating students into becoming LGBT.

Jan. 6, 2021, and anti-democracy

The group has illustrated its disdain for democracy in its repeated calls for the hanging of public officials, their support for Jan. 6 insurrectionists and their interest in the doctrine of the lesser magistrate.

The organization has been tied to “Stop the Steal” events, including the rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, which led to the riot inside the Capitol building.

On Jan. 5, Oltmann spoke at a Trump rally in D.C. but was not present for the insurrection. The next day, Oltmann was at the State Department to talk about the “coup” against Trump with Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro. The group also promoted the Jan. 7 “Stop the Steal” rally in Colorado Springs.

Rebecca Lavrenz, a member of the group, was arrested and charged after attending the Jan. 6 insurrection. She was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. Lavrenz is still awaiting trial. Jury selection is scheduled for March 25, 2024.

On Jan. 6, 2022, Oltmann spoke at a January 6th Solidarity Truth press conference in D.C. The flyer called for “all true patriots” to “come support your January 6th Heroes at the biggest J6 event to date.”

Stewart Rhodes, leader of the Oath Keepers militia, also addressed the event via recorded message while he was incarcerated and charged with seditious conspiracy, a crime he later was convicted of on Nov. 29, 2022.

The group’s support for seditionists like Rhodes is in line with its inherently antigovernment interpretation of an old Christian belief that originated in the year 1550 called the “doctrine of the lesser magistrates,” a belief that Oltmann has heavily promoted within the organization and in public.

Oltmann’s version of the doctrine comes from a recent book called The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates: A Proper Resistance to Tyranny and a Repudiation of Unlimited Obedience to Civil Government by Matthew Trewhella.

Trewhella’s definition of the doctrine is: “When the higher-ranking civil authority makes unjust or immoral law, policies or court opinions the lower ranking civil authority has both the right and the duty to interpose and refuse obedience to the higher authority. If necessary, the lesser magistrate may actively resist the superior authority.”

In a Telegram post on June 8, 2022, Oltmann expressed his support for the theory: “Think they have no rules, so neither should we. Restoration requires you to tear it down, without permission. We are the lesser magistrate.”

The following day, he wrote a second post, making it clear that he was incorporating the doctrine, which he calls “standing in the gap,” into the Faith Education Commerce organization. Noting that he had shared a plan at an FEC meeting, Oltmann claimed: “It is actionable, it is biblical, and everyone can get involved. Best part … we fix the country this year, we don’t wait til 2024.” He also recommended Trewhella’s book and claimed, “We will win with this plan.”

“The plan,” Oltmann wrote, “is the only way. You are the lesser magistrates. They are evil and they must be sent back to the hole they came from.”

Oltmann has said that using this doctrine does not include the use of violence, a claim that contradicts his repeated calls for violence against public officials and a statement he made on his podcast on June 21, 2022.

Sharing that he had spoken with Ammon Bundy, who has been involved in multiple armed standoffs and confrontations against the government, he described Bundy as someone who “used the principles of the doctrine of the lesser magistrate in standing as a place of interposition, standing between the tyrants and the people who do harm and the people they intend to make their victims.”