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FBI Militant Informant Tells All

Sunday, 27 January 2013 11:20 By Jeanne Devon, The Mudflats | Report

Bill Fulton, undercover FBI informant in the “Alaska Militia Trial,” gave a lengthy interview to The Mudflats about his role in the case, and his controversial life in Anchorage before it was revealed. In this article, he shares his candid opinion about local Anchorage media, national progressive media, Joe Miller, and what they got wrong. Yours truly didn’t even escape entirely unscathed.

Bill Fulton came to Alaska, the biggest small town in the world, and became instantly “known.” He owned a shop in Anchorage that was utterly unforgettable. A military supply store, which doubled as offices for a security company, and a fugitive recovery service. The name was Drop Zone, and to members of the military, outdoor and gun enthusiasts, Alaska survivalists, and members of the many militia groups in the state, it was a haven and a gathering place. To those outside that world, who drove past the foreboding store front and saw the large poster of Obama with a joker face in the window, it was a little creepy to say the least.

Its owner was chummy with well-known fringe right wing personalities in Anchorage, like radio personality Eddie Burke and other outspoken Tea Party activists. His security services were utilized widely, including by then US Senate candidate Joe Miller. Fulton’s company provided security for Miller, whom he characterizes as “paranoid.”

The security wing of Drop Zone was forced to shut down after an infamous incident in which Fulton arrested Alaska Dispatch journalist Tony Hopfinger at a Miller campaign event. Fulton calls what happened “the Hopfinger incident,” and after it went viral, and hit the national media, Hopfinger and Fulton were paired forever – broadcast into living rooms across the country. To many, Hopfinger became a symbol of the First Amendment, the rights of journalists, and those who stood nose-to-nose with a right wing faction whom they saw as becoming increasingly militant. But on the other side, the militia movement, and those with anti-media anti-government sentiments who believed the Tea Party candidate was the last best hope, saw Fulton as a hero with real steely-spine cred, defending the candidate, and sticking it to the liberal media.

Miller won the Republican nomination in 2010 with his support from the Tea Party crowd, but was ultimately defeated in a historic write-in candidacy by the incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

During the course of the militia trial, Fulton was outed as one of the two informants the FBI used to solidify their case against Cox and others. He was immediately whisked out of Alaska, and he and his family were located out of reach of those who might wish him harm. Imagine finding out that the dynamic and infamous poster boy for one side, is really a mole for the other side. The right wing felt betrayed and duped. The left had an awkward moment where the guy they loved to hate became the guy they were supposed to just love, and the harsh words and vitriol they’d hurled in his direction became a little awkward. Old habits die hard.

Hero to goat, and goat to hero in a matter of moments for Fulton. For Alaska, there was one big simultaneous, “Holy crap.”

After the trial drew to a close, militia leader Schaeffer Cox, and Lonnie Vernon both received more than 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, and a third member Coleman Barney got a 5 year sentence on weapons charges.

And Fulton was now free to speak. Speak he did to Salon, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and other outlets – national and local – including the Alaska Dispatch, the online newspaper started by Tony Hopfinger, of the Hopfinger incident.

And as you can imagine, with the worlds of everyone who had contact with Fulton turned upside-down, there was a flurry of accusations and damage control. Fulton called Miller paranoid and talked about fitting him with a bullet-proof vest on primary night in the bathroom at Election Central. Miller countered by saying that Fulton had been following him around, and was exaggerating Miller’s desire for protection. Others on the right began accusing Fulton of working for the left, and deliberately trying to sabotage Miller’s campaign by falsely arresting Hopfinger just to give Miller bad press.

And today, a hyperbolic story in the Alaska Dispatch asserts that Fulton “apparently had an agenda to undermine Miller’s campaign.” Not “apparent” to Fulton who said that the Huffington Post had taken some offhanded comments, and created “a hit piece on Miller, which the Dispatch (who can contact me but didn’t) runs an article based off theirs and solidifies, and regurgitates the slant he put on it. Frustrating.”

I spend four and a half hours on the phone Friday. I’m not sure how much time others did, but I figured the best way to find out what Fulton was actually thinking was not to cut and paste the impressions of “Outside journalists,” whose opinions are generally condemned by Craig Medred, the author of the Alaska Dispatch piece, but simply to ask Fulton himself. Since he’s the only real source, any journalism had to originate with him. There’s no need to “play telephone” as a story gets further and further from its primary source.

I’ve reported enough on the trial, and the characters in it to know that people are complicated, and rarely fit the stereotype. So, rather than to rely on pre-existing conclusions, or call Fulton a “rogue security agent,” I decided to let him tell his own story, and let the reader decide.

The Meeting

Devon:  So, you first met Schaeffer Cox in a meeting with Joe Miller, correct?

Fulton: It was at the 2008 Republican convention – a meeting with (Palin aide) Frank Bailey and Joe. I’ve known Joe for a long time. It’s funny to see what they’re putting out.

So, Schaeffer was this young up-and-coming guy. They said, “He can bring Ron Paul delegates – delegates to help with the coup to oust [Republican Party Chair] Randy Ruedrich.

[Activists like Miller, and Bailey, with the nod from then Governor Sarah Palin, were actively seeking to eliminate Ruedrich whose corrupt practices Palin had exposed, and replace him with Tea Partier Cathy Giessel (now a state senator), or Miller himself. They were unsuccessful in 2008, but managed to replace Ruedrich at his retirement with Tea Partier Russ Millette, the new incoming Chair.]

Fulton: And I’m thinking there’s something wrong with this guy. He wouldn’t shut up. This guys is like a complete nobody, except that he won’t shut the hell up. He keeps interrupting Frank and Joe. I’m trying to listen, which is what you do as a junior. I’m thinking, “Who is this guy? Who does he think he is?”

I still find this as unbelievable as everyone. This is impossible. This is nuts. I can tell you that every so often I have to ask, “Did this really happen? It’s so crazy. It can only happen in Alaska, because everybody knows everybody.

Somebody not from Alaska wouldn’t understand that something like this can just happen. It could only happen there.

The fact that I as a first time delegate was sitting in a smoke filled room with these guys.

And this is where I first figured out Joe Miller was paranoid. After that meeting, it was either that night or the next day, Joe’s like, “Hey, you have a security company, that does personal protection stuff, right?”

And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s our specialty. That’s what we do.”

And he says, “Well, these people are trying to kill me.”

So, I’m like,  ”In Alaska? No. Really? Ohhkay…. Well, what’s going on?”

“Well, somebody loosened the nuts on my SUV, and this has happened, and that’s happened…”

And so I pull out our threat assessment form, because we actually had a form. And I started asking him questions – and he doesn’t know who it is, and he doesn’t know why they’re doing it. So, the whole threat assessment doesn’t work – which is kind of what we base these whole things off of.

So, there’s something wrong here, because nobody doesn’t know what their threat is. (laughs)

Devon: So, what did you do?

Fulton: I said, “Sure. We’ll pull a security team in, and do security on you.” At this point I’m like, screw it. Why not? He’s a friend of the governor, he wants our help, fine. You know? So, I pull a team in, we run a security detail on him. The next time we did security for him was the night he won the Republican nomination for Senate, against Murkowski.

Who Invited Cox?

Devon: Before we move on, a spokesman for Joe Miller stated that, “Fulton may very well have invited Cox [to the meeting], but Joe does not have any specific memory of inviting him to the meeting.” Did you have a comment on that?

Fulton: Bullshit! He didn’t know Cox? Cox is the one who knew Miller’s kids! They knew each other. He’d been helping Joe out on his campaign. I mean, come on. Really? I really don’t like politicians. On either side. They all make me angry. But I guess he’s not even a politician any more – he’s a blogger now, or something.

The Politics

Devon: Somebody also quoted you as saying you’ve “become disillusioned” with Joe Miller’s politics, and I wondered what that meant.

Fulton: (laughs)

Devon: Because I didn’t get the impression that you were ever in line with his politics to begin with.

Fulton: No, not at all!

Devon: So “becoming disillusioned” is a mischaracterization.

Fulton: (laughs) Yes.

I had a store that sold items to the military, and crazy right-wing people. Our relationship with Joe Miller and anyone else in the right wing was to further those causes. My politics are that I’m an Independent. I don’t carry a party. I’m very, very socially liberal, and fiscally conservative.

I don’t think we should spend money on shit that doesn’t work. But I think that if two gay people want to get married, I think that’s great, and I don’t even think we should have a debate on it. I just think that’s asinine. And global warming is real.

Devon: And Barack Obama?

Fulton: I’ve sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution. That’s why I do a lot of what I do. He’s better than the guy with the magic underwear, or somebody stupid enough to pick Sarah Palin as a running mate.

But, I mean, let’s look at our options, here. I’m definitely not happy with the guy. There are a lot of things I don’t like. He said he’d get us out of Afghanistan, and close Gitmo. He’s using all the drone strikes. There’s a lot of things with him I’m not happy about. But there are also a lot of things about him that make him the lesser of two evils in my mind. They’re all politicians. It’s not like any of them are great. It’s just I don’t think he believes in magic underwear, and that’s enough for me. And you can quote me on that one.

Devon: OK, I will.

Sabotage?

Devon: And I want to get your comment on another quote from Bill Peck, Joe Miller’s communications person.

Fulton: Joe Miller has a communications person?

Devon: He does. And he said, “Although Joe has not adopted this theory, some have suggested that Fulton may have been used by the federal government to sabotage Joe Miller’s campaign.

Fulton: Absolutely not. Unequivocably, absolutely, NOT. He did that all on his own. I had bigger fish to fry than Joe Miller’s campaign, or Lisa Murkowski.

And I’ll get into more when we talk about the Hopfinger incident, and you’ll probably be able to write the best of anyone about that. Those were the dark days.

Eddie Burke as Muse

Devon: Thank you. I’ll certainly try.  Can I ask how exactly were you involved in Eddie Burke’s campaign? Were you just security, or did you have another function?

[Eddie Burke was a well-known and infamous former radio talk show host in Anchorage. He and Fulton were often seen together. Burke ran an unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Governor in 2010.]

Fulton: His wife was the campaign manager, and I was the treasurer, or the campaign advisor or something. And I like Eddie. I don’t believe everything that he believes, but I kind of like Eddie. He’s a big, gruff, kind of rude guy, a Navy vet with lots of good stories. And I kind of used him as my… what do actors use to get ready for their roles? He was my case study. Eddie Burke was good for business at the shop, and he was deeply embedded with the fringe right wing, which you know. And if one is playing in the world of the fringe right wing, there’s nothing better than helping their poster boy run for public office. It might actually help you get in deeper. I worked for Eddie, and again, there was no “sabotage” there. I did my job. Even though I know that the left-wing conspiracy theorists (which I did not even know existed until I read the Huffington Post today) would like to believe that I was the cape-wearing Superman liberal superhero, we all just had a job to do. If it meant that I was going to go be Eddie Burke’s treasurer, then that’s exactly what I did. If it meant go do security for Joe Miller, that’s what I did.

The whole Joe Miller thing, I think, is a little paranoia on their part. It wasn’t about that. It was never about that.

It was about us, integrating ourselves. And it wasn’t like the FBI said, “Hey, go work for Joe Miller. It was me going, “You know what? That’s a good opportunity. We’re going to do that.”

It wasn’t them saying, “Hey, get in close with Eddie Burke.” It was me going, “You know, that’ll be good for business at the shop, and whatever the shop made, we just recycled back into investigations.

It’s kind of funny to see what’s coming out now on both sides, that there’s this huge conspiracy theory thing. I mean, Joe Miller was connected to the right wing, so…

For God’s sake, he’s got guys walking down the street with assault weapons next to his Hummer. If you think that somebody who’s trying to get in with the right wing is not going to cozy up next to him, you’re out of your mind.

But there was nothing nefarious there, just because I didn’t like him didn’t mean I wasn’t going to do the job. But there’s a lot of people who will just never accept that.

Devon: Oh, I know. Believe me. Yeah. From writing as much as I have about Sarah Palin, you don’t have to explain that phenomenon. I totally get it.

Fulton: There’s even a lot of liberal people out there who can’t accept the fact that I’m not a right wing crazy that was trying to avoid criminal charges. There are still people out there saying that. Even on Democratic Underground today. I even responded to some guy’s post saying that I was under investigation for illegal weapons sales. And I’m just like, “Come on, folks… It was said in court, not just by me, but by multiple federal agents that I was not under investigation for anything.”

Devon: Right. I remember that.

Fulton: I wasn’t a criminal. And I see a lot of this on the right wing, but even on the left wing, a lot of those people are never going to accept the truth. And because of the Hopfinger incident a lot of that was reported by the media – not you in particular – but there was some from you and Shannyn [Moore], but not the majority from you guys, but a lot of that will forever be questioned. That’s just my opinion on that.

Devon: Yes, I think that’s true. I think it’s a valid opinion. People tend to believe the first thing they hear. So back on track…

Joe Miller & The Bulletproof Vest

Fulton: So, Eddie loses, I’m at Election Central. And this is something that is total bullshit that they’re reporting on, saying I was following Joe Miller around. He came over to me and was like, “Hey, Bill. Do you have a bullet-proof vest?” And I told this as a funny story  to Ryan at the Huffington Post when he interviewed me. I told him as just a funny story and he turned the whole article into it.

But as Joe Miller is winning this nomination, we’re in the bathroom of the Egan Center and I’m fitting him in a bulletproof vest. I just found it freaking hilarious. So that’s the bullet-proof vest story. And then he asked me if I had a few guys around. I already knew Joe was a little bit nuts after the first thing, so I was like, “OK. Par for the course. But, hey; the guy might be a US senator and he’s nuts, so I better get close – it’s my job.

So, we did security for him, dropped him off at the travel trailer he was staying at, and then I didn’t see Joe again until the Hopfinger incident.

Devon: He was staying in a travel trailer?

Fulton: Yeah, that night. It was like an RV.

I don’t know whose RV it was. I really didn’t care.

By the time we got back there it was like 3 in the morning, and I needed to get my body armor back and go home. I had fugitives to capture the next day and I needed that.

Devon: Gosh, you have such a boring job.

Fulton: Yeah, I had a real boring job. (laughs) I don’t miss it, though. This is nice. I pick up my kids from school, I help with crafts. I like that.

So, the next time our story picks up is going to be the Hopfinger incident, which a lot of people up there are still interested in.

The Hopfinger Incident

Fulton: This is what happened. The night before his campaign event, I get a call from somebody in his campaign. “Joe’s had some problems with people,” and I just start thinking in my head again, “this guy’s starting to get a little old.”

“So, can you guys pull some security for us?” I’m like, “Sure man, no problem.” You know? I was like, “What time? Where do you need us?” And just so you know, we do security unarmed. There was a lot of reporting when that happened that we were armed. I want to make it clear that while we wore body armor, we did not do armed security. Because there’s been a lot of reporting that we were armed. And that’s not the case at all.

So, we get to the school, I check in with the front office, said we were security, he shows us around, we check radios. Again, we do this all the time. Nothing different. And then one of the Joe Miller campaign workers comes in, and she’s like, “Why are you guys wearing suits?” And I said, “Because we’re doing security. I mean, we can go put on big shirts that say ‘Security’…” And she’s like, “No, but you guys are going to kind of stand out.” And I told her, “That’s kind of the idea, when you do security. You don’t want people doing things.

And I figured out that this was one of the national people who would have come in to help him. And then she says, “Um, well, can you guys not stand up?” And I’m like, “What kind of security do you actually want us to do here?” “Well, you know, somebody could damage something in the school, or if somebody rushes Joe…” And we’re like, “Well, that’s kind of why we should be standing up.”

And the campaign lady says, “Yeah, but you know, there’s already a little talk that Joe’s paranoid in the media.” And I’m thinking in my brain, “Yeah, no shit!”

(laughs) But I said, “Yeah, OK.” So I told the guys to take their ear pieces out of their ears, sit down around the room, keep your eyes open, and if anything looks weird we’ll deal with it then.”

And we also at that time got a copy of the lease. Because we had to make sure they had a lease on the building, which made it private property at the time. So, we got a copy of the lease and we’re good to go. Because you can’t do anything on school district property, or any kind of government property unless it’s leased, you know what I’m saying?

Devon: Yeah, I do. Although I didn’t at the time.

Fulton: So, you can’t just say, “Hey, the school’s going to let us use the school building, and bring security in. It doesn’t work like that. Because security has to have the authority for the building under lease law in Alaska, and it’s important for us. So we get a copy of the lease, we sit down, it’s just a little campaign thing. It’s all over.

So afterwards, the guys stood up, it’s time for Joe to leave, and I’ve got this lady’s words in the back of my mind, and I’m thinking we should probably back off a little bit, while Joe’s leaving, but keep him within eyesight. And we put our radios back in our ears so we could talk to each other.

And for us, this is getting really uncomfortable because we do these types of security details all the time, but we’re not trying to hide while we do them – we just do them.

So, as Joe’s leaving, this guy starts running towards him, yelling things at him, with this white thing in his hand.

And Joe turns around and looks at me, and he’s got this look in his eyes like, “Do something!” And I’m like, “Let’s go, guys,” because we do this all the time. This is some crazy guy.

We go up, and we get between Joe and this guy, and this guy is just screaming these questions at Joe, and stuff, and I’m wondering if this is one of those people they talked about. And he starts banging up against us. And I get between him and Joe, because this is the job we were hired for.

And so I start explaining to him that he needs to leave. And he starts yelling, “This is a public event!” And I’m like, “No, It’s a private event.”

“Well, it’s a public school and I’m allowed to be here!” And I’m saying, “No, it is a public school during the day, but we have a lease for this facility, and it’s private property right now, so you need to leave. It’s a private event that the public was invited to, and you need to leave.” We keep telling him he needs to leave, and then we start in with the trespass. And we have a policy that you trespass them 3 times before you put them in custody. Well, we’re telling him that he’s trespassing, and then it comes to this thing where he’s with the press. Well, everyone else that was there with the press that we knew about had badges on. You know what I’m talking about? Or they had a jacket that said KTUU, or they had like you see at a concert except that it had their picture, and Anchorage Daily News on it or something. So, everybody had these badges and stuff on. This guy didn’t have that on.

At this point I figured out that the little thing he was holding was a camera. But, I’m like, you know dude, whatever. I don’t care what your job is, you’re trespassing, and you need to leave. “No, I don’t! This is a public school!” And I’m like, “No, you can’t do any of this.” And I don’t know what’s going on with Joe behind me at this point, because I’m busy dealing with this – what I thought was a crazy guy in front of us.

As we’re working through this, and telling him he’s trespassing – all this transpired in 3 or 4 minutes. It doesn’t take you that long to get through all this. There’s a guy that comes along side him, and I think he did think it was one of our guys, and he pushes the guy into one of the lockers in the hallway. At that point I said, “That’s it, you’re done. You’re under arrest.” And he’s like, “You can’t arrest me, I’m a reporter!” And I said, “Well actually I can, and I am.” So, we put Tony into custody, take him around the corner, and sit him in a chair where he’ll be comfortable and he’ll be away from other people, because that’s one of our policies. We don’t want to arrest someone and leave them out there where they can hurt themselves, someone else can hurt them, or they’re a spectacle.

And all the other reporters in the room thought that we were trying to get him away from them. And what they didn’t understand was that we have a responsibility, once we put someone into custody before we pass them along to the police. If anything happens to that human being, we are responsible for it. Period. Until the police show up. So we started asking the other reporters to back off and leave, and they start refusing. So we start again, back to our policy – you’re trespassing, you need to leave. During this, one of our guys has called APD, told him that we have a trespassing issue, which we had done a hundred times before.

The unique thing about the law in Alaska is that anybody can arrest anyone for any crime that they see. So, if you witness a crime, and it’s an arrestable offense, you can actually go arrest somebody. You don’t need to be a cop, you don’t need to be a licensed security guard. And I wanted to explain all that because that never got explained correctly. Alaska still has a lot of those laws on the books from when there were only like 10 state troopers. So, in Alaska if you observe a crime, you may make the arrest, and deposit them either with the nearest magistrate or the nearest law enforcement person. We, of course, do that all the time with security and bail bonds, because that’s what we do. So for us, up until APD got there, this was totally normal. We had zero idea what this was about to become. It was as straightforward as doing our job, gave him the warnings, touched somebody, escalated the situation, went into custody, we called APD.

As soon as APD gets there, and they figure out it’s a reporter, they said, “We can’t take this guy.” And I make an offhanded comment to the APD dude like “Yeah, dude, thanks for screwing my liability insurance.” It wasn’t like we thought we’d done wrong, even though it played that way in the press. The Sergeant was just like, “hey, we can’t take this guy.” And that was one of the things I was so mad about. That’s kind of messed up that that out of everything else that happens, that comment would come out. My sense of humor – probably not OK to be used at that point in time. (laughs) So, APD says we have to forward charges to the prosecutor, and I was like “Why aren’t you going to take him?” And they were like, “Do you really want the answer to that question?” And I said, “Yeah, I do.”

“They’re not going to spend a million dollars for accusing a reporter of trespass. And we’re not going to give them a million dollars to take him into custody.” And I said, “I don’t care what the guy’s job is, this is the deal.” And he said, “We’ll, forward it to the DA. It’s not going to be on our ass.” And I said, “OK.”

And we kind of cleaned up there, and Tony was giving an interview. His first interview with KTUU he admitted to pushing someone. He never really admitted to it after that. But that’s OK. I don’t really hold any ill will against Tony, and if Tony actually looks back on it, I think he does still hold some ill will towards me. But if he actually looks back on it, that event catapulted him into the stratosphere of liberal love. He got to meet Maddow, The Dispatch started paying its own bills. So all in all, it didn’t work out so bad for Mr. Hopfinger. I don’t want to make it sound like it was good that we arrested him, but it was actually good for him that he got arrested. It was 20 minutes of his life that he got to sit there, and then it was the next two months of him being foo-fooed over by every reporter in the country.

The Blowback

I remember after that KTUU wanted a statement from me, and the campaign approved it. And I went down to KTUU, and I walk through, andthere’s this lady there, and a reporter from ADN. I don’t remember the name, and she asked if I minded talking to him and I I said, “No. Not at all. We don’t have anything to hide.” So I start talking and this guy starts screaming at me. Up until this event, I actually thought… I had a different impression of the media. This reporter is like, “You knew that the guy was a reporter, and Joe Miller’s people told you who this guy was beforehand.” And I’m like “who is this guy? You’re a reporter. You’re not supposed to be telling me what my thoughts are. I’m here to answer questions to who they may be.” And I’m thinking what is wrong with this dude? And that’s when I think it began to dawn on me that there was an issue going on here, and this is really going to suck. Because, even now, when I look back on that and think you’re not allowed to create your own story, and that’s exactly what he was trying to do. He was so mad that we’d arrested another reporter that he had lost total sight of actually being a journalist. It really sucked. But that’s when I figured out this whole thing was going to suck.

And over the next couple days, it was you and Shannyn and ADN and a lot of the local guys. After Maddow and Olbermann picked it up, and what they said, that’s when the death threats rolled in. And I think that was the hardest on me, and definitely on my wife.

Devon: Wow, I didn’t realize that.

Fulton: Oh, yeah. We had people calling our house, telling my wife they were going to come kill our kids, and burn our house down, and that we were Nazis. And we had people coming by our house, people following me and my wife around town. I was up for 3 days straight trying to answer phone calls at the shop. Because the media wouldn’t stop calling, and then crazy people wouldn’t stop calling.

So about 2 days into this, the FBI steps in and says, “Hey, we are the FBI, we handle interstate threats via telecom. We can deal with this.” And I said, “Absolutely not. I have not done the last two and a half years worth of work to have it ruined by you guys stepping in and helping.” You know? It was kind of one of those Catch 22 things, where the militia was loving us at that time, right?

They just thought we were the greatest thing since sliced bread because we’d just arrested this reporter, and protected Joe Miller. And the press hated us, which made the militia like us more.

And you couldn’t have the FBI investigate the death threats because it would have exposed that we were… well, it wouldn’t have exposed that I was working with the FBI, but it would have told the militia that we’d invited the FBI to help us, you know what I’m saying.

Devon: Yeah, I see what you’re saying.

Fulton: So all in all, I had to just sit there and take it, and it just sucked. Because up until then, I watched Maddow. I watched Olbermann. These were people that I got my news from .

I remember when Maddow called me a Nazi, and I was just like, “What the…?”

Devon: That must have been very surreal.

Fulton: Oh, it was! I remember when her producers called me. It was the day after she aired that show where she talked about me on it. And they were like, “She’s coming up to Alaska. Would you like to do an interview?” And I said, “Well, normally you interview people before you do a segment on them – the same thing you guys did last week when you called me a nazi. Normally one would do an interview before you put that out to the world. There’s no freaking way I’m going to give you an interview, (laughs) You just called me a nazi on national TV! On top of that, I couldn’t have given them an interview anyway, because 90% of it would have been false. Talking Points Memo asked me a question – are you part of the militia? And I said no, we do business with the militia. If you look at the questions I answered, they were all honestly answered, but I was just unable to answer them fully.

Devon: So how did this all play out?

Then I became the “militia supply store.” Then I became a “member of the militia.” I became all these things I wasn’t, in the media. And it was destroying my reputation and my family, so it was hard. That was probably the darkest time for me in this whole investigation.

The darkest time was having to deal with my wife crying in a corner because she got another death threat, and not being able to do anything about it because we had dangerous people we needed to catch.

And I was disappointed with the left wing. I really was. I mean, I know that they were left-wing crazies out there, but they were just as bad as the right wing.

Devon: I guess in a way it validates the good job you were doing. You were clearly convincing to both sides.

Fulton: Yeah, I guess.

I’ve got this letter hanging on my wall. I kept it and I can read it to you.

It says:

“Dear Nazi Douche C**t,” which is why I kept it. (chuckles) Because I was in the military for 8 years, and I have heard a lot of profanity, and I have used a lot of profanity, as you well know.

Devon: Yes, I remember the surveillance tapes.

Fulton: I had never heard that before, and I liked it, so I kept the letter and framed it and put it on my wall. The guy that wrote it would probably be very unhappy to know that it’s there.

It says:

“You should be thrown in jail for trampling civil liberties and unlawfully detaining a journalist,” and it’s OK because he wrote it out in ink, and people just don’t do that any more unless they care.

“You teabaggers are showing your true colors as jack-booted, wannabe Gestapo thugs. You have serious issues. Go into therapy. Go into a closet and suck each other off. Whatever. Just stop assaulting citizens at the bidding of your Nazi wannabe overlords. Fuck you.”

That’s it verbatim – a letter I received where they guy used a Mutual of Omaha envelope so there wasn’t a return address, and had been sent from a mailbox, and he rubbed it clean and washed the paper.

And that’s the general tone of the letters and the phone calls that we were receiving, but I kept that one because I’d never heard that particular phrase of profanity, and had my eyes opened to that.

Devon: How was this affecting your wife?

Fulton: I’ve been in the army. It freaked me out a little bit but it didn’t really faze me. My wife? If I ever find the people who made those phone calls, I’m going to want to punch them all in the face individually. There was just no reason to do that to her. You know? That really, really sucked.

Devon: Is there anything else you think people got wrong?

Fulton: The people that said we were a security guard agency, which we weren’t. The statute for a security guard agency in Alaska is very, very definitive, and we stay away from it. Always did. We called our guys ‘agents.’ We didn’t ever protect facilities, we protected individuals or events. There was a bar exemption, so we protected bars, but we never did anything in the security guard license realm. We never called ourselves that, and we’d actually gone to the state prior, the year before, to make sure that we were good.

And so the media reported, “They’re being investigated by the Alaska State Troopers.” Well, a week later the investigation was over, but nobody reported that we got cleared. And “They’re being investigated by APD.” Even the FBI again asked if we needed help, and I was like, “No, we’re good. It was a clean arrest, it was a good arrest.” The attorney for Anchorage never prosecuted us for making a false arrest, which he would have done if we had. We just didn’t. And he chose not to prosecute Tony’s charge, and I believe he was right. It wouldn’t have been worth the money.

The media not only painted an incorrect picture of what went on, they continued to paint that picture for quite a few weeks, because it didn’t fit what they wanted it to fit.

They wanted it to fit a certain mold, and it didn’t. And both sides of the media do it all the time – I’m not blaming any particular side here. But this was the first time I ever saw it that blatant. And it was sad. We had to close down our security business after that, because I wasn’t willing to go through it again. And my wife told me to close it down because we weren’t going through it again. When I closed that down, that was the jobs for some of my guys, so I had to let guys go.

We closed down the fugitive recovery business, where we got 600 fugitives in 2 years that didn’t cost the taxpayers of Anchorage a dime. And that got closed down over it.

And then you had APD who had two fugitive recovery guys that would capture, you know, maybe 30 guys a year. There were times when they asked us to slow down because the jail was full. There were days we’d go out and get 10, 15, 20 people in a day. There were a lot of unforeseen consequences to that. And it gave us huge props from the right wing, but it really hurt our ability to do our jobs, which was essentially tracking these guys . We couldn’t, because we had to dal with the media, and people calling in death threats, and driving by our homes.

The two poor guys that were there in the army had to deal with all that. The funny thing about that is how everyone said they didn’t have permission. They did. They’d had a change of command, and their new commander hadn’t given them permission yet. They still had permission from their old commander. These guys never got in trouble for that because they never did anything wrong. They had permission. But when the media asked, “Has their commander given them permission?” the Army, of course, is going to cover its ass. And the commander is going to say, “No, I never gave permission,” because he’d only gotten there a week earlier. Of course he hadn’t, but the one who’d been there the year prior had. So everybody was covering their own ass, and their own agenda. That’s the way it turned out. But then again, it was kind of good for us on getting our stripes with the militia. Yeah. But it sucked. Sorry. I didn’t mean to talk about it for that long. It was just very dark.

Devon: Oh, that’s OK. It sounds like what you’re saying was the most frustrating part was not being able to say then what you just said now.

Fulton: Yeah. I’m not that guy. That was probably the worst part. And also to have my wife be brought into it and not be able to defend her against it. Any time that you do something like this, and it affects your family negatively, and you can’t fix it. That sucks, because then you’re having to choose other people’s safety and other people’s wellbeing over the wellbeing of your family. I had to do that when we had to move out when they closed up the case with Schaeffer. I had to make the decision to give up a million dollar business and move my family out of Alaska so Schaeffer Cox doesn’t kill people. Those are the tougher decisions in this job, and they suck, and there is no right decision in it. I’d still do it again but it does suck. My wife is a very strong, wonderful woman.

Devon: It sounds like it.

Fulton: Yeah. She’d have to be to put up with me.

Devon: And your crazy job.

Fulton: Yeah, everybody’s got their crazy stuff. At least I’m not into golf. I find better hobbies than golf.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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FBI Militant Informant Tells All

Sunday, 27 January 2013 11:20 By Jeanne Devon, The Mudflats | Report

Bill Fulton, undercover FBI informant in the “Alaska Militia Trial,” gave a lengthy interview to The Mudflats about his role in the case, and his controversial life in Anchorage before it was revealed. In this article, he shares his candid opinion about local Anchorage media, national progressive media, Joe Miller, and what they got wrong. Yours truly didn’t even escape entirely unscathed.

Bill Fulton came to Alaska, the biggest small town in the world, and became instantly “known.” He owned a shop in Anchorage that was utterly unforgettable. A military supply store, which doubled as offices for a security company, and a fugitive recovery service. The name was Drop Zone, and to members of the military, outdoor and gun enthusiasts, Alaska survivalists, and members of the many militia groups in the state, it was a haven and a gathering place. To those outside that world, who drove past the foreboding store front and saw the large poster of Obama with a joker face in the window, it was a little creepy to say the least.

Its owner was chummy with well-known fringe right wing personalities in Anchorage, like radio personality Eddie Burke and other outspoken Tea Party activists. His security services were utilized widely, including by then US Senate candidate Joe Miller. Fulton’s company provided security for Miller, whom he characterizes as “paranoid.”

The security wing of Drop Zone was forced to shut down after an infamous incident in which Fulton arrested Alaska Dispatch journalist Tony Hopfinger at a Miller campaign event. Fulton calls what happened “the Hopfinger incident,” and after it went viral, and hit the national media, Hopfinger and Fulton were paired forever – broadcast into living rooms across the country. To many, Hopfinger became a symbol of the First Amendment, the rights of journalists, and those who stood nose-to-nose with a right wing faction whom they saw as becoming increasingly militant. But on the other side, the militia movement, and those with anti-media anti-government sentiments who believed the Tea Party candidate was the last best hope, saw Fulton as a hero with real steely-spine cred, defending the candidate, and sticking it to the liberal media.

Miller won the Republican nomination in 2010 with his support from the Tea Party crowd, but was ultimately defeated in a historic write-in candidacy by the incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

During the course of the militia trial, Fulton was outed as one of the two informants the FBI used to solidify their case against Cox and others. He was immediately whisked out of Alaska, and he and his family were located out of reach of those who might wish him harm. Imagine finding out that the dynamic and infamous poster boy for one side, is really a mole for the other side. The right wing felt betrayed and duped. The left had an awkward moment where the guy they loved to hate became the guy they were supposed to just love, and the harsh words and vitriol they’d hurled in his direction became a little awkward. Old habits die hard.

Hero to goat, and goat to hero in a matter of moments for Fulton. For Alaska, there was one big simultaneous, “Holy crap.”

After the trial drew to a close, militia leader Schaeffer Cox, and Lonnie Vernon both received more than 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, and a third member Coleman Barney got a 5 year sentence on weapons charges.

And Fulton was now free to speak. Speak he did to Salon, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and other outlets – national and local – including the Alaska Dispatch, the online newspaper started by Tony Hopfinger, of the Hopfinger incident.

And as you can imagine, with the worlds of everyone who had contact with Fulton turned upside-down, there was a flurry of accusations and damage control. Fulton called Miller paranoid and talked about fitting him with a bullet-proof vest on primary night in the bathroom at Election Central. Miller countered by saying that Fulton had been following him around, and was exaggerating Miller’s desire for protection. Others on the right began accusing Fulton of working for the left, and deliberately trying to sabotage Miller’s campaign by falsely arresting Hopfinger just to give Miller bad press.

And today, a hyperbolic story in the Alaska Dispatch asserts that Fulton “apparently had an agenda to undermine Miller’s campaign.” Not “apparent” to Fulton who said that the Huffington Post had taken some offhanded comments, and created “a hit piece on Miller, which the Dispatch (who can contact me but didn’t) runs an article based off theirs and solidifies, and regurgitates the slant he put on it. Frustrating.”

I spend four and a half hours on the phone Friday. I’m not sure how much time others did, but I figured the best way to find out what Fulton was actually thinking was not to cut and paste the impressions of “Outside journalists,” whose opinions are generally condemned by Craig Medred, the author of the Alaska Dispatch piece, but simply to ask Fulton himself. Since he’s the only real source, any journalism had to originate with him. There’s no need to “play telephone” as a story gets further and further from its primary source.

I’ve reported enough on the trial, and the characters in it to know that people are complicated, and rarely fit the stereotype. So, rather than to rely on pre-existing conclusions, or call Fulton a “rogue security agent,” I decided to let him tell his own story, and let the reader decide.

The Meeting

Devon:  So, you first met Schaeffer Cox in a meeting with Joe Miller, correct?

Fulton: It was at the 2008 Republican convention – a meeting with (Palin aide) Frank Bailey and Joe. I’ve known Joe for a long time. It’s funny to see what they’re putting out.

So, Schaeffer was this young up-and-coming guy. They said, “He can bring Ron Paul delegates – delegates to help with the coup to oust [Republican Party Chair] Randy Ruedrich.

[Activists like Miller, and Bailey, with the nod from then Governor Sarah Palin, were actively seeking to eliminate Ruedrich whose corrupt practices Palin had exposed, and replace him with Tea Partier Cathy Giessel (now a state senator), or Miller himself. They were unsuccessful in 2008, but managed to replace Ruedrich at his retirement with Tea Partier Russ Millette, the new incoming Chair.]

Fulton: And I’m thinking there’s something wrong with this guy. He wouldn’t shut up. This guys is like a complete nobody, except that he won’t shut the hell up. He keeps interrupting Frank and Joe. I’m trying to listen, which is what you do as a junior. I’m thinking, “Who is this guy? Who does he think he is?”

I still find this as unbelievable as everyone. This is impossible. This is nuts. I can tell you that every so often I have to ask, “Did this really happen? It’s so crazy. It can only happen in Alaska, because everybody knows everybody.

Somebody not from Alaska wouldn’t understand that something like this can just happen. It could only happen there.

The fact that I as a first time delegate was sitting in a smoke filled room with these guys.

And this is where I first figured out Joe Miller was paranoid. After that meeting, it was either that night or the next day, Joe’s like, “Hey, you have a security company, that does personal protection stuff, right?”

And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s our specialty. That’s what we do.”

And he says, “Well, these people are trying to kill me.”

So, I’m like,  ”In Alaska? No. Really? Ohhkay…. Well, what’s going on?”

“Well, somebody loosened the nuts on my SUV, and this has happened, and that’s happened…”

And so I pull out our threat assessment form, because we actually had a form. And I started asking him questions – and he doesn’t know who it is, and he doesn’t know why they’re doing it. So, the whole threat assessment doesn’t work – which is kind of what we base these whole things off of.

So, there’s something wrong here, because nobody doesn’t know what their threat is. (laughs)

Devon: So, what did you do?

Fulton: I said, “Sure. We’ll pull a security team in, and do security on you.” At this point I’m like, screw it. Why not? He’s a friend of the governor, he wants our help, fine. You know? So, I pull a team in, we run a security detail on him. The next time we did security for him was the night he won the Republican nomination for Senate, against Murkowski.

Who Invited Cox?

Devon: Before we move on, a spokesman for Joe Miller stated that, “Fulton may very well have invited Cox [to the meeting], but Joe does not have any specific memory of inviting him to the meeting.” Did you have a comment on that?

Fulton: Bullshit! He didn’t know Cox? Cox is the one who knew Miller’s kids! They knew each other. He’d been helping Joe out on his campaign. I mean, come on. Really? I really don’t like politicians. On either side. They all make me angry. But I guess he’s not even a politician any more – he’s a blogger now, or something.

The Politics

Devon: Somebody also quoted you as saying you’ve “become disillusioned” with Joe Miller’s politics, and I wondered what that meant.

Fulton: (laughs)

Devon: Because I didn’t get the impression that you were ever in line with his politics to begin with.

Fulton: No, not at all!

Devon: So “becoming disillusioned” is a mischaracterization.

Fulton: (laughs) Yes.

I had a store that sold items to the military, and crazy right-wing people. Our relationship with Joe Miller and anyone else in the right wing was to further those causes. My politics are that I’m an Independent. I don’t carry a party. I’m very, very socially liberal, and fiscally conservative.

I don’t think we should spend money on shit that doesn’t work. But I think that if two gay people want to get married, I think that’s great, and I don’t even think we should have a debate on it. I just think that’s asinine. And global warming is real.

Devon: And Barack Obama?

Fulton: I’ve sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution. That’s why I do a lot of what I do. He’s better than the guy with the magic underwear, or somebody stupid enough to pick Sarah Palin as a running mate.

But, I mean, let’s look at our options, here. I’m definitely not happy with the guy. There are a lot of things I don’t like. He said he’d get us out of Afghanistan, and close Gitmo. He’s using all the drone strikes. There’s a lot of things with him I’m not happy about. But there are also a lot of things about him that make him the lesser of two evils in my mind. They’re all politicians. It’s not like any of them are great. It’s just I don’t think he believes in magic underwear, and that’s enough for me. And you can quote me on that one.

Devon: OK, I will.

Sabotage?

Devon: And I want to get your comment on another quote from Bill Peck, Joe Miller’s communications person.

Fulton: Joe Miller has a communications person?

Devon: He does. And he said, “Although Joe has not adopted this theory, some have suggested that Fulton may have been used by the federal government to sabotage Joe Miller’s campaign.

Fulton: Absolutely not. Unequivocably, absolutely, NOT. He did that all on his own. I had bigger fish to fry than Joe Miller’s campaign, or Lisa Murkowski.

And I’ll get into more when we talk about the Hopfinger incident, and you’ll probably be able to write the best of anyone about that. Those were the dark days.

Eddie Burke as Muse

Devon: Thank you. I’ll certainly try.  Can I ask how exactly were you involved in Eddie Burke’s campaign? Were you just security, or did you have another function?

[Eddie Burke was a well-known and infamous former radio talk show host in Anchorage. He and Fulton were often seen together. Burke ran an unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Governor in 2010.]

Fulton: His wife was the campaign manager, and I was the treasurer, or the campaign advisor or something. And I like Eddie. I don’t believe everything that he believes, but I kind of like Eddie. He’s a big, gruff, kind of rude guy, a Navy vet with lots of good stories. And I kind of used him as my… what do actors use to get ready for their roles? He was my case study. Eddie Burke was good for business at the shop, and he was deeply embedded with the fringe right wing, which you know. And if one is playing in the world of the fringe right wing, there’s nothing better than helping their poster boy run for public office. It might actually help you get in deeper. I worked for Eddie, and again, there was no “sabotage” there. I did my job. Even though I know that the left-wing conspiracy theorists (which I did not even know existed until I read the Huffington Post today) would like to believe that I was the cape-wearing Superman liberal superhero, we all just had a job to do. If it meant that I was going to go be Eddie Burke’s treasurer, then that’s exactly what I did. If it meant go do security for Joe Miller, that’s what I did.

The whole Joe Miller thing, I think, is a little paranoia on their part. It wasn’t about that. It was never about that.

It was about us, integrating ourselves. And it wasn’t like the FBI said, “Hey, go work for Joe Miller. It was me going, “You know what? That’s a good opportunity. We’re going to do that.”

It wasn’t them saying, “Hey, get in close with Eddie Burke.” It was me going, “You know, that’ll be good for business at the shop, and whatever the shop made, we just recycled back into investigations.

It’s kind of funny to see what’s coming out now on both sides, that there’s this huge conspiracy theory thing. I mean, Joe Miller was connected to the right wing, so…

For God’s sake, he’s got guys walking down the street with assault weapons next to his Hummer. If you think that somebody who’s trying to get in with the right wing is not going to cozy up next to him, you’re out of your mind.

But there was nothing nefarious there, just because I didn’t like him didn’t mean I wasn’t going to do the job. But there’s a lot of people who will just never accept that.

Devon: Oh, I know. Believe me. Yeah. From writing as much as I have about Sarah Palin, you don’t have to explain that phenomenon. I totally get it.

Fulton: There’s even a lot of liberal people out there who can’t accept the fact that I’m not a right wing crazy that was trying to avoid criminal charges. There are still people out there saying that. Even on Democratic Underground today. I even responded to some guy’s post saying that I was under investigation for illegal weapons sales. And I’m just like, “Come on, folks… It was said in court, not just by me, but by multiple federal agents that I was not under investigation for anything.”

Devon: Right. I remember that.

Fulton: I wasn’t a criminal. And I see a lot of this on the right wing, but even on the left wing, a lot of those people are never going to accept the truth. And because of the Hopfinger incident a lot of that was reported by the media – not you in particular – but there was some from you and Shannyn [Moore], but not the majority from you guys, but a lot of that will forever be questioned. That’s just my opinion on that.

Devon: Yes, I think that’s true. I think it’s a valid opinion. People tend to believe the first thing they hear. So back on track…

Joe Miller & The Bulletproof Vest

Fulton: So, Eddie loses, I’m at Election Central. And this is something that is total bullshit that they’re reporting on, saying I was following Joe Miller around. He came over to me and was like, “Hey, Bill. Do you have a bullet-proof vest?” And I told this as a funny story  to Ryan at the Huffington Post when he interviewed me. I told him as just a funny story and he turned the whole article into it.

But as Joe Miller is winning this nomination, we’re in the bathroom of the Egan Center and I’m fitting him in a bulletproof vest. I just found it freaking hilarious. So that’s the bullet-proof vest story. And then he asked me if I had a few guys around. I already knew Joe was a little bit nuts after the first thing, so I was like, “OK. Par for the course. But, hey; the guy might be a US senator and he’s nuts, so I better get close – it’s my job.

So, we did security for him, dropped him off at the travel trailer he was staying at, and then I didn’t see Joe again until the Hopfinger incident.

Devon: He was staying in a travel trailer?

Fulton: Yeah, that night. It was like an RV.

I don’t know whose RV it was. I really didn’t care.

By the time we got back there it was like 3 in the morning, and I needed to get my body armor back and go home. I had fugitives to capture the next day and I needed that.

Devon: Gosh, you have such a boring job.

Fulton: Yeah, I had a real boring job. (laughs) I don’t miss it, though. This is nice. I pick up my kids from school, I help with crafts. I like that.

So, the next time our story picks up is going to be the Hopfinger incident, which a lot of people up there are still interested in.

The Hopfinger Incident

Fulton: This is what happened. The night before his campaign event, I get a call from somebody in his campaign. “Joe’s had some problems with people,” and I just start thinking in my head again, “this guy’s starting to get a little old.”

“So, can you guys pull some security for us?” I’m like, “Sure man, no problem.” You know? I was like, “What time? Where do you need us?” And just so you know, we do security unarmed. There was a lot of reporting when that happened that we were armed. I want to make it clear that while we wore body armor, we did not do armed security. Because there’s been a lot of reporting that we were armed. And that’s not the case at all.

So, we get to the school, I check in with the front office, said we were security, he shows us around, we check radios. Again, we do this all the time. Nothing different. And then one of the Joe Miller campaign workers comes in, and she’s like, “Why are you guys wearing suits?” And I said, “Because we’re doing security. I mean, we can go put on big shirts that say ‘Security’…” And she’s like, “No, but you guys are going to kind of stand out.” And I told her, “That’s kind of the idea, when you do security. You don’t want people doing things.

And I figured out that this was one of the national people who would have come in to help him. And then she says, “Um, well, can you guys not stand up?” And I’m like, “What kind of security do you actually want us to do here?” “Well, you know, somebody could damage something in the school, or if somebody rushes Joe…” And we’re like, “Well, that’s kind of why we should be standing up.”

And the campaign lady says, “Yeah, but you know, there’s already a little talk that Joe’s paranoid in the media.” And I’m thinking in my brain, “Yeah, no shit!”

(laughs) But I said, “Yeah, OK.” So I told the guys to take their ear pieces out of their ears, sit down around the room, keep your eyes open, and if anything looks weird we’ll deal with it then.”

And we also at that time got a copy of the lease. Because we had to make sure they had a lease on the building, which made it private property at the time. So, we got a copy of the lease and we’re good to go. Because you can’t do anything on school district property, or any kind of government property unless it’s leased, you know what I’m saying?

Devon: Yeah, I do. Although I didn’t at the time.

Fulton: So, you can’t just say, “Hey, the school’s going to let us use the school building, and bring security in. It doesn’t work like that. Because security has to have the authority for the building under lease law in Alaska, and it’s important for us. So we get a copy of the lease, we sit down, it’s just a little campaign thing. It’s all over.

So afterwards, the guys stood up, it’s time for Joe to leave, and I’ve got this lady’s words in the back of my mind, and I’m thinking we should probably back off a little bit, while Joe’s leaving, but keep him within eyesight. And we put our radios back in our ears so we could talk to each other.

And for us, this is getting really uncomfortable because we do these types of security details all the time, but we’re not trying to hide while we do them – we just do them.

So, as Joe’s leaving, this guy starts running towards him, yelling things at him, with this white thing in his hand.

And Joe turns around and looks at me, and he’s got this look in his eyes like, “Do something!” And I’m like, “Let’s go, guys,” because we do this all the time. This is some crazy guy.

We go up, and we get between Joe and this guy, and this guy is just screaming these questions at Joe, and stuff, and I’m wondering if this is one of those people they talked about. And he starts banging up against us. And I get between him and Joe, because this is the job we were hired for.

And so I start explaining to him that he needs to leave. And he starts yelling, “This is a public event!” And I’m like, “No, It’s a private event.”

“Well, it’s a public school and I’m allowed to be here!” And I’m saying, “No, it is a public school during the day, but we have a lease for this facility, and it’s private property right now, so you need to leave. It’s a private event that the public was invited to, and you need to leave.” We keep telling him he needs to leave, and then we start in with the trespass. And we have a policy that you trespass them 3 times before you put them in custody. Well, we’re telling him that he’s trespassing, and then it comes to this thing where he’s with the press. Well, everyone else that was there with the press that we knew about had badges on. You know what I’m talking about? Or they had a jacket that said KTUU, or they had like you see at a concert except that it had their picture, and Anchorage Daily News on it or something. So, everybody had these badges and stuff on. This guy didn’t have that on.

At this point I figured out that the little thing he was holding was a camera. But, I’m like, you know dude, whatever. I don’t care what your job is, you’re trespassing, and you need to leave. “No, I don’t! This is a public school!” And I’m like, “No, you can’t do any of this.” And I don’t know what’s going on with Joe behind me at this point, because I’m busy dealing with this – what I thought was a crazy guy in front of us.

As we’re working through this, and telling him he’s trespassing – all this transpired in 3 or 4 minutes. It doesn’t take you that long to get through all this. There’s a guy that comes along side him, and I think he did think it was one of our guys, and he pushes the guy into one of the lockers in the hallway. At that point I said, “That’s it, you’re done. You’re under arrest.” And he’s like, “You can’t arrest me, I’m a reporter!” And I said, “Well actually I can, and I am.” So, we put Tony into custody, take him around the corner, and sit him in a chair where he’ll be comfortable and he’ll be away from other people, because that’s one of our policies. We don’t want to arrest someone and leave them out there where they can hurt themselves, someone else can hurt them, or they’re a spectacle.

And all the other reporters in the room thought that we were trying to get him away from them. And what they didn’t understand was that we have a responsibility, once we put someone into custody before we pass them along to the police. If anything happens to that human being, we are responsible for it. Period. Until the police show up. So we started asking the other reporters to back off and leave, and they start refusing. So we start again, back to our policy – you’re trespassing, you need to leave. During this, one of our guys has called APD, told him that we have a trespassing issue, which we had done a hundred times before.

The unique thing about the law in Alaska is that anybody can arrest anyone for any crime that they see. So, if you witness a crime, and it’s an arrestable offense, you can actually go arrest somebody. You don’t need to be a cop, you don’t need to be a licensed security guard. And I wanted to explain all that because that never got explained correctly. Alaska still has a lot of those laws on the books from when there were only like 10 state troopers. So, in Alaska if you observe a crime, you may make the arrest, and deposit them either with the nearest magistrate or the nearest law enforcement person. We, of course, do that all the time with security and bail bonds, because that’s what we do. So for us, up until APD got there, this was totally normal. We had zero idea what this was about to become. It was as straightforward as doing our job, gave him the warnings, touched somebody, escalated the situation, went into custody, we called APD.

As soon as APD gets there, and they figure out it’s a reporter, they said, “We can’t take this guy.” And I make an offhanded comment to the APD dude like “Yeah, dude, thanks for screwing my liability insurance.” It wasn’t like we thought we’d done wrong, even though it played that way in the press. The Sergeant was just like, “hey, we can’t take this guy.” And that was one of the things I was so mad about. That’s kind of messed up that that out of everything else that happens, that comment would come out. My sense of humor – probably not OK to be used at that point in time. (laughs) So, APD says we have to forward charges to the prosecutor, and I was like “Why aren’t you going to take him?” And they were like, “Do you really want the answer to that question?” And I said, “Yeah, I do.”

“They’re not going to spend a million dollars for accusing a reporter of trespass. And we’re not going to give them a million dollars to take him into custody.” And I said, “I don’t care what the guy’s job is, this is the deal.” And he said, “We’ll, forward it to the DA. It’s not going to be on our ass.” And I said, “OK.”

And we kind of cleaned up there, and Tony was giving an interview. His first interview with KTUU he admitted to pushing someone. He never really admitted to it after that. But that’s OK. I don’t really hold any ill will against Tony, and if Tony actually looks back on it, I think he does still hold some ill will towards me. But if he actually looks back on it, that event catapulted him into the stratosphere of liberal love. He got to meet Maddow, The Dispatch started paying its own bills. So all in all, it didn’t work out so bad for Mr. Hopfinger. I don’t want to make it sound like it was good that we arrested him, but it was actually good for him that he got arrested. It was 20 minutes of his life that he got to sit there, and then it was the next two months of him being foo-fooed over by every reporter in the country.

The Blowback

I remember after that KTUU wanted a statement from me, and the campaign approved it. And I went down to KTUU, and I walk through, andthere’s this lady there, and a reporter from ADN. I don’t remember the name, and she asked if I minded talking to him and I I said, “No. Not at all. We don’t have anything to hide.” So I start talking and this guy starts screaming at me. Up until this event, I actually thought… I had a different impression of the media. This reporter is like, “You knew that the guy was a reporter, and Joe Miller’s people told you who this guy was beforehand.” And I’m like “who is this guy? You’re a reporter. You’re not supposed to be telling me what my thoughts are. I’m here to answer questions to who they may be.” And I’m thinking what is wrong with this dude? And that’s when I think it began to dawn on me that there was an issue going on here, and this is really going to suck. Because, even now, when I look back on that and think you’re not allowed to create your own story, and that’s exactly what he was trying to do. He was so mad that we’d arrested another reporter that he had lost total sight of actually being a journalist. It really sucked. But that’s when I figured out this whole thing was going to suck.

And over the next couple days, it was you and Shannyn and ADN and a lot of the local guys. After Maddow and Olbermann picked it up, and what they said, that’s when the death threats rolled in. And I think that was the hardest on me, and definitely on my wife.

Devon: Wow, I didn’t realize that.

Fulton: Oh, yeah. We had people calling our house, telling my wife they were going to come kill our kids, and burn our house down, and that we were Nazis. And we had people coming by our house, people following me and my wife around town. I was up for 3 days straight trying to answer phone calls at the shop. Because the media wouldn’t stop calling, and then crazy people wouldn’t stop calling.

So about 2 days into this, the FBI steps in and says, “Hey, we are the FBI, we handle interstate threats via telecom. We can deal with this.” And I said, “Absolutely not. I have not done the last two and a half years worth of work to have it ruined by you guys stepping in and helping.” You know? It was kind of one of those Catch 22 things, where the militia was loving us at that time, right?

They just thought we were the greatest thing since sliced bread because we’d just arrested this reporter, and protected Joe Miller. And the press hated us, which made the militia like us more.

And you couldn’t have the FBI investigate the death threats because it would have exposed that we were… well, it wouldn’t have exposed that I was working with the FBI, but it would have told the militia that we’d invited the FBI to help us, you know what I’m saying.

Devon: Yeah, I see what you’re saying.

Fulton: So all in all, I had to just sit there and take it, and it just sucked. Because up until then, I watched Maddow. I watched Olbermann. These were people that I got my news from .

I remember when Maddow called me a Nazi, and I was just like, “What the…?”

Devon: That must have been very surreal.

Fulton: Oh, it was! I remember when her producers called me. It was the day after she aired that show where she talked about me on it. And they were like, “She’s coming up to Alaska. Would you like to do an interview?” And I said, “Well, normally you interview people before you do a segment on them – the same thing you guys did last week when you called me a nazi. Normally one would do an interview before you put that out to the world. There’s no freaking way I’m going to give you an interview, (laughs) You just called me a nazi on national TV! On top of that, I couldn’t have given them an interview anyway, because 90% of it would have been false. Talking Points Memo asked me a question – are you part of the militia? And I said no, we do business with the militia. If you look at the questions I answered, they were all honestly answered, but I was just unable to answer them fully.

Devon: So how did this all play out?

Then I became the “militia supply store.” Then I became a “member of the militia.” I became all these things I wasn’t, in the media. And it was destroying my reputation and my family, so it was hard. That was probably the darkest time for me in this whole investigation.

The darkest time was having to deal with my wife crying in a corner because she got another death threat, and not being able to do anything about it because we had dangerous people we needed to catch.

And I was disappointed with the left wing. I really was. I mean, I know that they were left-wing crazies out there, but they were just as bad as the right wing.

Devon: I guess in a way it validates the good job you were doing. You were clearly convincing to both sides.

Fulton: Yeah, I guess.

I’ve got this letter hanging on my wall. I kept it and I can read it to you.

It says:

“Dear Nazi Douche C**t,” which is why I kept it. (chuckles) Because I was in the military for 8 years, and I have heard a lot of profanity, and I have used a lot of profanity, as you well know.

Devon: Yes, I remember the surveillance tapes.

Fulton: I had never heard that before, and I liked it, so I kept the letter and framed it and put it on my wall. The guy that wrote it would probably be very unhappy to know that it’s there.

It says:

“You should be thrown in jail for trampling civil liberties and unlawfully detaining a journalist,” and it’s OK because he wrote it out in ink, and people just don’t do that any more unless they care.

“You teabaggers are showing your true colors as jack-booted, wannabe Gestapo thugs. You have serious issues. Go into therapy. Go into a closet and suck each other off. Whatever. Just stop assaulting citizens at the bidding of your Nazi wannabe overlords. Fuck you.”

That’s it verbatim – a letter I received where they guy used a Mutual of Omaha envelope so there wasn’t a return address, and had been sent from a mailbox, and he rubbed it clean and washed the paper.

And that’s the general tone of the letters and the phone calls that we were receiving, but I kept that one because I’d never heard that particular phrase of profanity, and had my eyes opened to that.

Devon: How was this affecting your wife?

Fulton: I’ve been in the army. It freaked me out a little bit but it didn’t really faze me. My wife? If I ever find the people who made those phone calls, I’m going to want to punch them all in the face individually. There was just no reason to do that to her. You know? That really, really sucked.

Devon: Is there anything else you think people got wrong?

Fulton: The people that said we were a security guard agency, which we weren’t. The statute for a security guard agency in Alaska is very, very definitive, and we stay away from it. Always did. We called our guys ‘agents.’ We didn’t ever protect facilities, we protected individuals or events. There was a bar exemption, so we protected bars, but we never did anything in the security guard license realm. We never called ourselves that, and we’d actually gone to the state prior, the year before, to make sure that we were good.

And so the media reported, “They’re being investigated by the Alaska State Troopers.” Well, a week later the investigation was over, but nobody reported that we got cleared. And “They’re being investigated by APD.” Even the FBI again asked if we needed help, and I was like, “No, we’re good. It was a clean arrest, it was a good arrest.” The attorney for Anchorage never prosecuted us for making a false arrest, which he would have done if we had. We just didn’t. And he chose not to prosecute Tony’s charge, and I believe he was right. It wouldn’t have been worth the money.

The media not only painted an incorrect picture of what went on, they continued to paint that picture for quite a few weeks, because it didn’t fit what they wanted it to fit.

They wanted it to fit a certain mold, and it didn’t. And both sides of the media do it all the time – I’m not blaming any particular side here. But this was the first time I ever saw it that blatant. And it was sad. We had to close down our security business after that, because I wasn’t willing to go through it again. And my wife told me to close it down because we weren’t going through it again. When I closed that down, that was the jobs for some of my guys, so I had to let guys go.

We closed down the fugitive recovery business, where we got 600 fugitives in 2 years that didn’t cost the taxpayers of Anchorage a dime. And that got closed down over it.

And then you had APD who had two fugitive recovery guys that would capture, you know, maybe 30 guys a year. There were times when they asked us to slow down because the jail was full. There were days we’d go out and get 10, 15, 20 people in a day. There were a lot of unforeseen consequences to that. And it gave us huge props from the right wing, but it really hurt our ability to do our jobs, which was essentially tracking these guys . We couldn’t, because we had to dal with the media, and people calling in death threats, and driving by our homes.

The two poor guys that were there in the army had to deal with all that. The funny thing about that is how everyone said they didn’t have permission. They did. They’d had a change of command, and their new commander hadn’t given them permission yet. They still had permission from their old commander. These guys never got in trouble for that because they never did anything wrong. They had permission. But when the media asked, “Has their commander given them permission?” the Army, of course, is going to cover its ass. And the commander is going to say, “No, I never gave permission,” because he’d only gotten there a week earlier. Of course he hadn’t, but the one who’d been there the year prior had. So everybody was covering their own ass, and their own agenda. That’s the way it turned out. But then again, it was kind of good for us on getting our stripes with the militia. Yeah. But it sucked. Sorry. I didn’t mean to talk about it for that long. It was just very dark.

Devon: Oh, that’s OK. It sounds like what you’re saying was the most frustrating part was not being able to say then what you just said now.

Fulton: Yeah. I’m not that guy. That was probably the worst part. And also to have my wife be brought into it and not be able to defend her against it. Any time that you do something like this, and it affects your family negatively, and you can’t fix it. That sucks, because then you’re having to choose other people’s safety and other people’s wellbeing over the wellbeing of your family. I had to do that when we had to move out when they closed up the case with Schaeffer. I had to make the decision to give up a million dollar business and move my family out of Alaska so Schaeffer Cox doesn’t kill people. Those are the tougher decisions in this job, and they suck, and there is no right decision in it. I’d still do it again but it does suck. My wife is a very strong, wonderful woman.

Devon: It sounds like it.

Fulton: Yeah. She’d have to be to put up with me.

Devon: And your crazy job.

Fulton: Yeah, everybody’s got their crazy stuff. At least I’m not into golf. I find better hobbies than golf.

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