Hardin Official To APPF: Tell Us “Where The Money Is Coming From”

October 6, 2009 8:01 a.m.

A Hardin, Montana official who has been the public face of the town’s controversial prison contract with American Private Police Force (APPF) is now expressing serious concerns about the deal.

Yesterday, Al Peterson of the Two Rivers Authority (TRA), the city’s economic development agency, sent an email to Michael Hilton of APPF and to the TRA’s board members, declaring:

The TRA board needs to know where the money is coming from (pro forma). Without this financial information it will be almost impossible for the TRA board to support the agreement.

The same day, TRA president Gary Arneson told reporters that the agency had put the deal on hold because of host of concerns raised about APPF. But Peterson, who had been part of a TRA group that traveled to California to meet with Hilton before the deal was signed, had until now strongly backed the agreement — and Hilton himself — in frequent comments to reporters.

But Peterson told TPMmuckraker that, in the wake of several apparent discrepancies emerging in APPF’s public statements, he now doubts APPF’s claim to him and his colleagues that it was backed by a major security contractor. “Everything that’s come to light has to make me question the legitimacy of the information” that the company showed him in California, he said.

Peterson has said APPF showed TRA officials documents indicating that APPF was working with a major contractor. But, in keeping with the TRA’s stance throughout the controversy, he declined to reveal to TPMmuckraker who APPF had said that contractor was, saying he didn’t want to unfairly tar anyone’s reputation if it turned out that they weren’t in fact associated with APPF.

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