Mike Vanderboegh, the “citizen journalist” who helped uncover the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious scandal, passed away Wednesday following a long battle with cancer.
Vanderboegh worked with blogger and investigative journalist David Codrea to expose the scandal. He was 64.
Operation Fast and Furious was launched in 2009 and derailed in December 2010 when Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered in a gun battle with Mexican smugglers who were armed with guns linked to that investigation. Vanderboegh and Codrea broke the story, and only a handful of other journalists, including then-CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson and Fox News’ William Lajeunesse, dug into the story. Attkisson later won an award for her work on the investigation. Codrea was honored by the Second Amendment Foundation with an award for his work.
Uncovering the scandal led to Congressional hearings before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Those hearings revealed an operation gone horribly wrong, leading to a cover-up that resulted in a contempt vote against then-Attorney General Eric Holder. He had refused to turn over thousands of documents subpoenaed by the committee, and had been given cover by President Barack Obama. Ultimately, those documents were ordered released following legal action by the Committee.
The founder of the so-called “Three Percenters,” a “Patriot” movement group, Vanderboegh lived in Pinson, Ala. He was a hardcore Second Amendment advocate who occasionally appeared at political hot spots including Nevada in 2014 during the Bundy Ranch protest. He also went to Connecticut and Washington State to participate in protests against gun control.
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However, as noted by the Kansas City Star, when a group of armed protesters occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon this past winter, Vanderboegh called them “fools.”
While he was an outspoken gun rights activist who was branded an extremist by critics, he may be best known for his role in exposing the “gun walking” scandal.
Vanderboegh was also famous for his website, “Sipsey Street Irregulars (SSI).” He was remembered there as a man who “fought tirelessly to restore the liberties that we had taken for granted.”
“Because of his leadership and the movement that he created,” the SSI website notes, “we take them for granted no more. He was able to awaken minds to the possibility that a determined minority of free people could accomplish anything; so long as they did it together. They did not need a leader. They needed a cause and a banner from which to advance the cause of freedom. The III percent is that cause.
“Mike continued to give everything after so much had been taken away by the illness,” the message adds. “Through his struggle he became a symbol of what can be accomplished if we only have the indomitable will to make it happen. Through his words he was able to breathe life into the sails of a resurging Patriot movement.”
Vanderboegh also made a habit of attacking gun rights leaders, including Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association and Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Critics said this tended to marginalize his efforts in recent years.
His battle with cancer spanned five years, yet he continued working and writing during most of that time.
The Kansas City Star reported that he donated his papers to the John Hay Library at Brown University.
He is survived by his wife, Rosey, a son and two daughters. His son, Matthew, has assumed duties at the SSI blog, the newspaper reported.
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