Earlier this week, QAnon conspiracy theorist Ann Vandersteel posted an image of a document on her Gab account proudly announcing that she was “officially an American State National” and no longer had any legal obligations to the federal government. On Wednesday, Vandersteel appeared on “The Conservative Daily Podcast,” where she touted the supposed benefits of becoming an “American state national,” from no longer having to pay federal taxes to getting to “vote as a delegate, which has the power of four votes.”
Vandersteel is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who once bragged about being a member of the “Trump Team 2020 FL Media Advisory Board,” forcing the Trump campaign to publicly disavow her. Now she serves as host of her own daily program called “Steel Truth” and has been a regular participant in the traveling cavalcade of election, COVID-19, and QAnon conspiracy theorists who make up the ReAwaken America tour.
She now appears to have joined the sovereign citizens movement, whose followers view the U.S. government as illegitimate and thus believe they are free to ignore its laws. The FBI has designated the movement a domestic terror threat.
“I decided to become an American state national,” Vandersteel told hosts Joe Oltmann and Max McGuire. “I decided that the 14th Amendment citizenship, the federal citizenship of a bankrupt corporate entity known as the United States … The truth of the matter is there is a United States, and the federal government is part of a corporate entity that was part of Washington, D.C., that was only supposed to be 10 square miles. But the 14th Amendment basically hijacked all of the states’ sovereignty and made anybody who opted into Social Security a 14th Amendment federal citizen. Therefore, you’ve exchanged your God-given rights—your Bill of Rights—and you’ve exchanged them for government privileges, the privilege to get welfare, the privilege to get student loans, to get Social Security, to get health care.”
Vandersteel never explained how the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, made everyone who opted into Social Security, which wasn’t introduced until 1935, into federal citizens, but she nonetheless confidently declared that as an American state national she did not have to pay Social Security or personal income tax. On top of that, she claimed that she is entitled to get all of the money she has paid in such taxes over the years back from the federal government.
“Anything you put in, you get out,” Vandersteel stated.
Vandersteel said that she became aware of this process thanks to Bobby Lawrence, a MAGA candidate who ran for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in 2018. Vandersteel claimed that Lawrence had been asked to step aside in that race “by someone on President Trump’s team” to make way for Rep. Lou Barletta in the GOP primary because Team Trump had other plans for Lawrence. Vandersteel claimed that Lawrence was eventually contacted by David Straight, a sovereign citizen activist, whom Vandersteel asserted was a “commissioner on President Trump’s child sex-trafficking commission,” who urged Lawrence to start promoting the American state national movement.
We could find no evidence to support Vandersteel’s claim that Straight had any connection to or position within the Trump administration, but she was very clearly trying to create the impression that this movement has the support of Trump and those around him.
Later in the interview, Vandersteel declared that American state nationals are still allowed to run for elected office and vote.
“In fact,” she said, “you vote as a delegate, which has the power of four votes.”
We have absolutely no idea what that means.