Alaskan Reporter Detained by Security at Joe Miller Event

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Politico.com

Alaskan Reporter Detained by Security at Joe Miller Event

by
Alexander Burns

Handcuffed reporter, Tony Hopfinger. The blowup comes as Miller’s relationship with the media is already at something of a low point: The candidate announced last week that he would no longer take questions about his past employment and personal history. (Jill Burke/ Alaska Dispatch)

The Alaska Senate
race erupted Sunday night after security guards hired by Republican
nominee Joe Miller put handcuffs on a reporter who had tried to ask
Miller a question.

Tony Hopfinger, the founder of Alaska Dispatch, was detained by guards
from the firm Drop Zone after trying to talk with Miller at the Central
Middle School in Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Drop Zone's owner told the paper that Hopfinger was trespassing at a
private event and accused him of assaulting a person there. "After
Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller
supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of
them away," the paper reported.

The newspaper said that Anchorage Police took statements for more than
an hour after the incident but that Hopfinger has not been charged with
any crime.

In a statement, the Miller campaign called Hopfinger a “liberal blogger”
and accussed him of having “chased Miller to the exit after the event
concluded in an attempt to create and then record a ‘confrontation’ with
the candidate.”

“While I’ve gotten used to the blog Alaska Dispatch's assault on me and
my family, I never thought that it would lead to a physical assault,”
Miller said. “It’s too bad that this blogger would take advantage of a
‘Town Hall’ meeting to create a publicity stunt just two weeks before
the election.” 

Drop Zone owner William Fulton was quoted by Alaska Dispatch saying that the Miller forum was a private event and that Hopfinger refused to leave. “It wasn’t a public place,” he said. 

But both of Miller’s rivals for the Alaska Senate seat – incumbent Sen.
Lisa Murkowski, running as a write-in candidate, and Democratic nominee
Scott McAdams – seized the chance to accuse Miller of hypocrisy.

“Joe Miller should immediately issue an apology to the editor of the
Alaska Dispatch, a legitimate member of the Alaska press corps, who he
had handcuffed by a private security firm,” Murkowski said in a
statement, noting that Miller brands himself as a constitutional
conservative. “We call on him to immediately disavow the actions of his
private security guards for violating the constitutional rights of a
United States citizen by illegally detaining him. I find it alarming
that Joe feels he needs to hire security forces to protect him from
Alaskan voters and members of the press.”

McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, tweeted in a messagee to Miller: “in case
you were unaware, the Constitution also applies to reporters.”

The blowup comes as Miller’s relationship with the media is already at
something of a low point: The candidate announced last week that he
would no longer take questions about his past employment and personal
history. Hopfinger reportedly planned to ask Miller about the
circumstances of his departure from a job at the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

A Public Policy Polling survey last week,
commissioned by the liberal website Daily Kos, showed the Senate race
to be a tight three-way match-up, with Miller holding a small lead and
taking 35 percent of the vote. Murkowski followed with 33 percent and
McAdams pulled 26 percent. 

Miller had an unfavorable rating of 58 percent in the poll – a very high
number for a first-time candidate. Murkowski’s favorability was split
at 48 percent positive, 46 percent negative, and McAdams’s numbers were
44 percent positive, 26 percent negative and 30 percent unknown.

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