Lawrence O'Donnell talked to the Alaska Dispatch's Tony Hopfinger who was detained by Alaska Senate Republican candidate Joe Millers private security thugs while trying to interview him after his town hall event in Anchorage. As The Anchorage Daily News reports and as Hopfinger noted here, Miller did make a bit of news during his interview with John King on CNN.
LUNCH HOUR: Polling performed on co-workers' computers; then their caches emptied to hide act.
Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe Miller acknowledged Monday that he was disciplined for violating the Fairbanks North Star Borough's ethics policy in 2008 when he was a part-time borough lawyer.
Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker, who was Miller's boss, said last week that Miller used borough computers for political purposes in 2008 when he organized a failed effort to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Whitaker said Miller was disciplined for the violation of the borough's ethics code but was not fired because he was part of a legal team that was in the middle of a case over how much to tax the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
The borough's ethics policy does not allow employees to engage in politics on the job or with government equipment. Miller did not provide details on CNN of what exactly he'd done to be disciplined, and Miller's campaign refused interview requests on Monday to discuss it. Miller e-mailed a statement saying "the incident had nothing to do with my departure from the Fairbanks North Star Borough nearly a year and a half later. My statement on CNN is accurate."
Miller has refused to release his borough personnel files and news organizations are suing to get them. The candidate's private security team handcuffed and detained a reporter Sunday who was trying to ask Miller about the borough employment after an Anchorage town hall meeting, with the private security firm alleging that the reporter was hounding Miller and had shoved someone.
Whitaker said Miller resigned in September 2009 right before he was to be fired. Whitaker said he didn't know why Miller was about to be fired at that point and that the borough attorney had the discretion to let him go. Borough Attorney Rene Broker has said she's not able to discuss the matter. Read on...
Transcript of O'Donnell's interview with Tony Hopfinger below the fold.
O'Donnell: Tony, what happened in this situation you were in in Alaska where his private security guards tried to arrest you?
Hopfinger: Yeah, This was a town hall meeting open to the public at Central Middle School, which is a public school in Anchorage. I and other journalists were there to cover the event, see what Joe had to say as well as ask some questions afterwards. I tried to ask him a couple of questions related to when he was employed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, which is next to the interior of Alaska and the second largest city.
He used to work there as an attorney, and is accused of politicking on Borough time. So I asked him about that and as I was asking him, he sort of walked away and I wound up kind of being surrounded by these security guards who were chest bumping me.
O'Donnell: And he had been refusing to talk to reporters, hadn't he recently?
Hopfinger: That's correct. In fact he did answer the question not last night but today with CNN and admitted to the accusation.
O'Donnell: Wait. What did he admit to today?
Hopfinger: He told CNN today that he confirmed that he had been doing -- using some computers at the Borough to participate in polling activity while he was an attorney.
O'Donnell: Now, tony, is there any history in Alaska of candidates being handled differently? Here's Joe Miller now moving around with security guards? Does that surprise Alaskans? Is that something new for them.
Hopfinger: You know we don't usually see security guards. Even when Sarah Palin was Governor, she didn't walk around with bodyguards you know, at least before McCain came around and that, so it is kind of different and these guys weren't clearly marked as security guards.
After this confrontation, all of it which lasted about 30 seconds tops, from the time I asked Miller the questions to when I basically ended up in handcuffs, at that point I was taken over to a corridor of this school and detained for around 20 to 30 minutes.
No one knew what had happened. I was the only reporter out there asking the questions. I want to also make sure that, you know he's called me a liberal blogger. You mentioned I'm not a blogger. I'm not a blogger.
I've been a journalist now for 15 years. I worked in newspapers, I've done stuff for Bloomberg News, Newsweek, so I was just there trying to cover a candidate running for US Senate.
O'Donnell: Tony Hopfinger of the Alaska Dispatch, not a blogger. Tony, carry a Bill of Rights around with you whenever you go to those Joe Miller events.
Hopfinger: I'll be sure to bring that next time.
O'Donnell: Thanks Tony.