Eleven years ago, former Marine Corps Sgt. John “TIG” Tiegen was among the brave men who fought off a series of attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Now, Tiegen is ready to fight for Americans again as a mayoral candidate in Colorado Springs.
Tiegen told American Military News that rampant government overreach during the COVID-19 pandemic drove him to run for mayor.
“What was going on in 2020, we had a Republican mayor out here and we still got shut down. They were using the health department as a way to control the people, pretty much as a police force. Shutting businesses down. Arresting people at parks. Just a huge power grab,” Tiegen said.
“I was taking a lunch break, and I knew the mayoral race was already going, at least I thought it was for the most part, and I saw on the news, ‘Hey, you have until the 23rd to get your name on the ballot’ and I got up from my lunch break, went down to the administrative building, picked up the packet, and said I was going to run,” he continued.
“Everybody is always waiting for someone to do something, and I just said, screw it, I’ll see what I can do. I don’t bend. I’m not going to break,” Tiegen added.
Tiegen demonstrated his ability to stay strong and focused during the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, where he was working as a security contractor when a militant group stormed a U.S. diplomatic outpost and CIA annex, killing four Americans.
Among those killed were U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone “Rone” Woods and Glen “Bub” Doherty, who were both former U.S. Navy SEALs.
READ MORE: Killed Benghazi heroes awarded Congressional Gold Medals
In the wake of the attack, Tiegen collaborated with his fellow security team survivors on the book “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” written by Mitchell Zuckoff.
In an effort to continue serving Americans, Tiegen also founded the United American Defense Force, a humanitarian organization that has been mischaracterized as a militia.
“I didn’t establish a militia. I’m not part of a militia. It’s a humanitarian organization,” Tiegen told American Military News. “I did start it during the 2020 riots to teach the community how they can come together to organize and protect their community, stand up for each other, and have each other’s back.”
Tiegen said the organization offers a variety of classes and training for emergency response, including self-defense, communications, elderly self-defense, basic weapons training for concealed carry, medical training and training for FEMA certificates.
“We don’t do any offensive training whatsoever,” Tiegen noted. “All we do is defensive training. There’s no way I’m going to teach civilians urban warfare tactics. That’s just stupid.”
Teigen said being in the military taught him how to organize, work with “people from all walks of life,” and “just get things done.”
“There’s a way things are supposed to be done. You don’t deviate. If you do things the way it’s laid out, it’ll work. It might be a little bit harder but it’s going to work out. Like for developments: there are rules and structures in place for a reason. When they go and build something because somebody bribed somebody else, it destroys everything else around it and over time it just deteriorates,” Teigen said.
If he is elected mayor, Teigen vowed to hold people accountable for their actions.
“My goal it to take power away from the mayor and the director heads and give it back to the people. Give them more control of what gets done and what they can do,” he said.
“My kids are going to grow up here and I don’t want them to grow up the way Denver is going,” Tiegen added. “I want them to be able to control what the government does versus the government controlling the people.”
Tiegen is hosting a launch party for his mayoral campaign at DCF Guns in Colorado Springs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. MST on Thursday.