Joe Miller Security Team That Detained Journalist Included Active-Duty Soldiers

Two of the members of DropZone Security who detained and handcuffed journalist Tony Hopfinger at a Joe Miller campaign event on Sunday were active-duty military members, the reports.

DropZone Security, as we reported, employs only veterans, and doubles as an army surplus store and bail bond agency. William Fulton, who heads up the agency, confirmed that the two security guards (other than himself) who were involved in detaining Hopfinger at the Alaska Republican Senate nominee’s town hall were active-duty soldiers.Richard Mauer of the Anchorage Daily News reported yesterday:

The soldiers, Spc. Tyler Ellingboe, 22, and Sgt. Alexander Valdez, 31, are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson. Maj. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, said the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.

The Army allows off-duty soldiers to take outside employment if the job doesn’t interfere with their readiness, doesn’t risk their own injury and doesn’t negatively affect the “good order” and discipline of their unit, Coppernoll said.

Mauer also wrote that Fulton told him that “the two soldiers called him Monday and said they may be in trouble.”

But Fulton, for his part, told TPM that Mauer’s account is misleading, and that the soldiers’ concerns “doesn’t have to do with the incident.”

“I have heard from two of the contractors who work for me, that they may receive some ramifications because one of them didn’t have the proper paperwork from his chain of command,” Fulton said.

“One of those guys,” he said, “had gotten permission from his old commander and not his new one.”

An extremely frustrated Fulton also confirmed that DropZone has faced some questions over its license with the Alaska Division of Corporations, Businesses, and Professional Licensing, which the Alaska Commerce website shows expired at the end of 2009.

Fulton claims they “just got a renewal the first of the month, that should be done within 30 days,” and that the revelations were “bad timing” in light of the Hopfinger incident. But he said, the state licensing department “never got mad at me.”

A representative in the Alaska Division of Corporations, Businesses, and Professional Licensing told TPM that the license had never been renewed.

The TPM Poll Average shows Miller with 34.5%, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) with 33.1%, and Scott McAdams (D) with 27.5%.

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