Joe Miller Claims Tony Hopfinger's Behavior Was 'Assaultive'


So much for Joe Miller refusing to talk to the media. Miller appeared on CNN's John King USA where he's had some friendly interviews before to explain the incident at the town hall meeting in Anchorage where his private security team "arrested" a journalist. Miller blamed reporter Tony Hopfinger and not his overly aggressive security team for the incident and claimed Hopfinger's behavior was "assaultive".

Miller also danced around the issue of why he left his job as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Here's a bit on that from The Mudflats:

Joe Miller is fond of private security.

In the Spring of 2008, Joe Miller showed up wearing Eric Estrada circa 1984 mirrored sunglasses, with security guards in a staged coup d’état of the leadership of the Alaska Republican Party. He lost. Randy Ruedrich still stands supreme as the party Chair, and now supports the man who once tried to oust him.

Fast forward to July 4, 2010 – US Senate candidate Joe Miller’s supporters marched with assault rifles and campaign signs.

The Alaska Dispatch has been doggedly pursuing a story on why Joe Miller lost his job several months after the attempted takeover encouraged by then-governor Sarah Palin. All indicators point toward Miller using the computer resources of his employer, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, to rig some sort of vote, and then clearing out the cache to conceal that fact.

During his interview on CNN Miller also claimed he had to have the security at the town hall meeting because the school required it. I find that hard to believe. Hopefully someone follows up with the school to find out if that is true or not.

And for more on this story, Lawrence O'Donnell talked to Tony Hopfinger about Miller's interview on CNN.

Tony Hopfinger: Joe Miller Admitted to Using Borough Computers to Participate in Polling Activity

JOHN KING: The closing weeks of any campaign get chaotic, but things hardly ever end up with a reporter in handcuffs. It happened last night in Anchorage when a newspaper reporter was handcuffed by a private security guard hired by Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Joe Miller's, campaign. Mr. Miller is here with us to help us try to figure out just what happened.

And, Mr. Miller, let's start with the incident last night. Mr. Hopfinger, Tony Hopfinger, he says he showed up at a public school, at a publicly announced campaign event, and tried to just ask you questions in the hall, and, as a result, he was handcuffed by your security detail. Is that what happened?

JOE MILLER: We had a town hall meeting. It went phenomenally well. They had a lot of people show up.

They had a lot of great questions that were free form, where people could ask questions and good answers would be given.

At the conclusion of that, we left the forum. And there was one particular blogger. He works for a -- a blog here in Alaska-- that hounded me on the way out the door and, you know, invaded personal space. I answered a question, but continued to get in the way of -- us as we were trying to leave.

And I ended up turning around and going the other way. There was a -- a private security team that was required. We had to hire them because the school required that as a term in their lease. And after I had left, apparently, he shoved somebody. And -- and then they -- they arrested him.

KING: The private security detail held him. The Anchorage police came and they said they will let -- leave it up to the district attorney whether or not to press charges. But in hindsight, looking back on this, the use of handcuffs in holding somebody like that, was that over the top?

MILLER: Well, I've got to tell you, I mean the behavior that was demonstrated while I was there was assaultive. It was certainly over the top. There's no question that that hounding was something that shouldn't have happened. And it was unfortunate. But, you know, this was a professional team that was hired according to the contract that we had and -- and I'm sure that they did the right thing.

KING: He says what he was trying to do is ask you some simple questions about your past work for the borough, for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. You have said that you don't want to talk about those things. Let me ask you, first, just a general question. Where do you draw the line? What is in and what's out in terms of your past employment?

MILLER: Well, I think that there's been a real effort here in Alaska to basically take away from the Alaskan voter the opportunity to see the issues that are before them. There's been a concerted effort to cloud it with things from the past that really have nothing -- they're petty issues. And that's all they are. They aren't things that have anything to do with where we are as a state.

Right now, I mean I've told you this before, John, our state has 40 percent of its economy that is dependent on the federal dollar, and yet the federal government is headed toward bankruptcy. And as long as we talk about petty issues or we talk about, you know, a reporter that assaulted somebody, we aren't getting at the issues.

And so our perspective is in order for the Alaskan voters to have an opportunity to talk about the issues, we've got to focus on them. And that's what we're doing. I'm probably the most disclosed candidate in Alaskan history. I've been a U.S.magistrate judge, an acting district court judge, a state magistrate. I've worked for a borough. I've done other things. I've been a commissioner for the Board of Marine pilots. And there are a zillion public documents out there about my background and past.

In fact, a lot of them are on my website. In fact, my entire military record, on my website. We're the most disclosed candidate, again, that I think the state has seen. And so our focus is -- we've laid it all out there. We want to talk about the issues and I think that's important to the Alaskans, because if they don't decide on the issues, we're headed down a dead end road that's going to drag this state down.

KING: Fair points you make. But one of the -- I think a fair issue for any voter to make is can I trust somebody that I'm going to send to Washington for a six-year term to deal with these big, consequential issues? And the question Mr. Hopfinger says he was trying to ask you was this, were you ever disciplined when you worked for the borough for improperly using, essentially, public taxpayer computers for political purposes?

MILLER: What he asked me was, was I ever threatened with termination from the Fairbanks North Star Borough. And I asked -- answered him directly. And I said no. And that's the straight truth. That's exactly what we've said consistently throughout this campaign. And that was the answer that we gave him.

And, again, yet another attempt to look at something from years ago to dissuade the voters from the issues that are hand. You know, our perspective is, is the record speaks for itself. The work I did there as a part-time borough attorney speaks for itself. The work that I did as a veteran, a combat vet of Desert Storm speaks for itself. The work I did as a judge speaks for itself. And, again, those records are reflected not just on our website, but also in the public record.

And so, again, it's an attempt, and particularly here locally by this blogger specifically, whose, by the way, editor is a max donor to my opponent, to take away from the voters here in Alaska an opportunity to examine the issues. And that is where we're headed as a state if we don't change it around.

KING: The mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Mr. Whitaker was quoted in a newspaper up there saying that you were disciplined, though, for violating the ethics policy. Is that true?

MILLER: I -- I will answer that correctly, that it was, in fact, a case that happened. When I was at the borough, there were a myriad of things that happened over time. And this was something back in 2008.

But the fact of the matter is the performance of the borough at the time that I left had absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened, you know, two years before then. And this is an attempt, again, to take away from the voters an opportunity to see where we're at as a state, an opportunity to take a choice that's not based on the past, which is the Scott McAdams/Lisa Murkowski path, but one that's designed to look at these petty issues and say, that really is what matters to voters.

And I don't think it's fair to Alaskans.

KING: Well, I guess I'm not in a position -- I work in Washington, DC. I'm not in a position to define what the people of Alaska view as a legitimate issue or a petty issue. But I -- I would just simply ask you this, you have made issues -- you take issue, sometimes, with Lisa Murkowski's record, her voting record as a taxpayer paid member of the United States Senate.

It is not fair game to look at your history as a taxpayer-paid attorney, anything and everything you did, while you were on a public payroll as a public servant?

MILLER: Well, the event in question is something that happened on my time off. So it was during the lunch hour. So, frankly, there is not a direct correlation to that. But I would tell you that when we talk about the record, we don't look at her past and make scurrilous allegations, whether sourced or not, about things that she may have done that don't relate to the issues that are before this state. And I think that when you look at, for example, a voting record, absolutely fair game.

When you look at a decision as a judge, absolutely fair game. When you look at a decision as the Fairbanks North Star Borough attorney, working for the government, absolutely fair game.

But I think that when you try to take out something and you try to construe it, like, for example, what we're talking about with the North Star Borough, as saying that something two years before or 18 months before had something to do with an employee's departure later, it's very clear, just based on the record, that that's a petty issue that's being described. It's one that does not relate to what exactly is before the voters or even what exactly happened at the time that I left.

And I think that's the critical thing, is to evaluate what is happening with the debate, what's happening with the dialogue? Is this a discussion that is designed to inform voters or is it a discussion that is designed to deceive voters?

Is it something that actually moves the debate ahead as far as where the state of Alaska is headed, as far as what this future holds if we continue in this dependent relationship with the federal government, a federal government that's going bankrupt?

KING: But as you know, someone who takes the oath and takes the public trust and works in a -- works in any kind of public service, you have a bar of accountability and ethics. A member of the United States Senate, for example, if Lisa Murkowski wants to raise money, she has to leave her office. She can't make that fundraising call on a taxpayer funded phone. She has to go somewhere else and use a private phone. The question, in your case, you said this happened on your lunch hour. Were you disciplined for doing something on your lunch hour that maybe you thought was right but that the mayor or somebody else thought was wrong, was a violation?

MILLER: John, I'll admit I'm a man of many flaws. I'm not going to sit back and say that I've conducted my life perfectly. I will tell you that anything that I've done that's not right, it's been accounted for and it's been taken care of and I move on and I learn from mistakes. But to suggest that, in fact, this is -- in fact, if -- if you look at how this arose, it was basically designed to tie that event to something that happened, again, well after a departure that arose because of disputes that I had with the direction of that local government.

And, again, when we get confused in the details and when we talk about the details, as we are in this conversation, what does it do? It takes voters away from the real issues. And the real issues for Alaska, again, is that this state has got to change direction. In fact, this nation has got to change direction.And it's a tactic, that, from our perspective, is, you know, obviously if the press reports on it 24 hours a day, it has some success. But who loses in the end? It is the voter.

KING: Well, let me -- let me try to end it right here, then. And you tell me whether -- I've tried this before and you've been straight up. Is this a fair statement, in your view, that at the time this happened, you were disciplined for something, but it had nothing to do with why -- while you -- the reason you left the agency down the road?

MILLER: Absolutely. That's a fair statement.

KING: All right, I appreciate that. Let me ask you about something else. The last time you were on this program, we were talking -- I asked you about Barack Obama, the President of theUnited States. I want to play back what you said and I want to ask you about it on the other side.


KING: If you had to, in a sentence or two, describe Barack Obama, how would you do that?

MILLER: Bad for America.

KING: That's one sentence. You don't get that often out of a politician. On what do you base that?

MILLER: Well, I mean he is one of the major forces moving this country toward socialism. He's expanding the entitlement state. It is the wrong direction forAmerica. You know, this is a bipartisan problem, but he's at the front of it.


KING: You have had some critics come forward and cite statements like that, where you're criticizing the entitlement state and said what -- is that hypocrisy, Mr. Miller, because your family has benefited from some of those entitlement programs, including Denali KidCare up in Alaska?


KING: You see no -- you see no hypocrisy there?

MILLER: John, did you ask me a question? I'm sorry.

KING: Yes. I -- you have had some -- you have had some critics from statements like that and statements you have made during the campaign say how can you say that, how can you criticize the entitlement state when, if you go back in your history, your own family has benefited, at times, when you were down on your luck, as many Americans are from time to time, from such entitlement programs?

MILLER: Right. There's no question, I wasn't born with a silver spoon. We have had hard times. And I -- you know, I'm like many Americans. It's not a question as to whether or not those programs are good or bad. The question is whether or not the control and the power of those programs should be under state or federal control.

Our perspective is many of these programs are already administered under state control, but they have along with them mandates that come from the federal government.

Our view of it is, it's far better for those programs to be administered at the state level. You've got a higher degree of accountability. The state government understands the problems better than the federal government. And you don't have that one size fits all that comes out of a D.C. bureaucrat thousands of miles away.

So, again, it's not a question as to whether they're good or bad or whether they ought to be used or not. It's a question as to who actually has the control and power over those programs.

KING: You are in a remarkable three way race now that Senator Murkowski decided to run as a write-in candidate after losing to you in the primary. She has a new ad up that was recorded 10 days before the death of former Senator Ted Stevens, in which he makes an appeal for her. I want you to listen.


TED STEVENS, FORMER ALASKA SENATOR: I trust Lisa and her commitment to keep fighting for us. She's working for Alaska every single day. We need Lisa and the seniority she's earned now more than ever.


KING: Again, that was taped 10 days before former Senator Stevens' tragic death. Do you think that is -- is that an effective message for Senator Murkowski?

MILLER: Well, I mean that's going to be up to the voters to decide. I mean I -- Ted Stevens fought very hard for this state. and I've got to tell you, this state, again, needs a fight -- a fighter that's going to work as hard, if not harder. But we've got to fight in a different direction. And I think Alaskans recognize that the past era, that -- that really is coming to an end. We can see that in the fiscal instability of the country.

But we also know, as Alaskans, that we have the capacity within the state to create jobs, the resource development, getting the federal government out of the regulatory burden that has really stopped that development; tax reform; making sure Obama Care doesn't get passed, looking at that debt. And Alaskans understand that those are real solutions and they understand that if they don't grab those by the horns, that we're going to have a hard time coming if we stay wedded to the idea that the federal government is always going to take care of us.

KING: Joe Miller is the Republican candidate for Senate in the state of Alaska in a fascinating three way race. A little more than two weeks to go. Mr. Miller, thanks for your time.

MILLER: Thanks, John. Appreciate it.

KING: Thank you.

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Transcript of Joe Miller s interview with CNN s John King


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