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Dakota Access security firm operated in ND without license, board says

In a complaint dated June 12, attorneys for the North Dakota Private Investigative and Security Board said the agency denied an application to James Patrick Reese, the founder of North Carolina-based TigerSwan, to become a licensed private security provider earlier this year. But Reese and/or the firm have illegally continued to conduct private investigative and/or private security services in North Dakota following the denial of their application of licensure. The complaint said TigerSwan maintains roving security teams to monitor valve sites in North Dakota, and the firm s personnel are armed with semiautomatic rifles and sidearms while engaging in security services. The firm continues to provide private investigative services, including monitoring of persons affiliated with the DAPL protests, the complaint alleges. The board is asking a state district court for an injunction against TigerSwan and Reese and for an administrative fine for each violation they have allegedly committed. Providing private investigative or private security services without a current license issued by the board is a Class B misdemeanor under state law.

The complaint, provided by the board s attorneys this week and filed in Burleigh County District Court Tuesday, June 27, said TigerSwan was hired by Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company that built the $3.8 billion oil pipeline that runs from western North Dakota to Illinois. The project was the subject of monthslong protests sparked by concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The main protest camp south of Mandan was cleared out in February and the line is now operational, but tribes continue to fight the project in federal court. TigerSwan provided intelligence to Energy Transfer Partners with flyover photography of the construction and protest sites, according to the board s complaint, and coordinated with local law enforcement. It also placed or attempted to place undercover agents among protesters to investigate and surveil them.

I can confirm that we do use TigerSwan for some of our security programs, Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said in an email. But, she added, we don’t discuss details of our security initiatives, which are designed to ensure the safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work.

A TigerSwan spokesperson didn t answer several emailed questions by press time Tuesday. TigerSwan s activities were thrust into the spotlight a month ago when an online news organization published information from leaked documents that the publication said showed the firm used military-style counterterrorism measures against pipeline protesters, who prefer the term water protectors. The Intercept said it had obtained more than 100 internal documents from a TigerSwan contractor and many more through a public records request. Maxine Herr, a spokeswoman for the Morton County Sheriff s Department, said they were unaware that TigerSwan was allegedly unlicensed in North Dakota. She said they used the firm s reports for situational awareness on where construction would be taking place in a given day.

The whole point of any daily reports we got was just to know where they were doing construction because we knew those would be potential areas for protests and therefore potentially unlawful activity, Herr said.

The board s complaint, signed by attorneys Monte Rogneby and Justin Hagel of the Vogel Law Firm, said it was notified in September that TigerSwan was illegally providing security services in North Dakota, prompting a letter to the firm. TigerSwan responded by arguing it was not conducting those services. Still, the firm submitted an application in mid-November on behalf of Reese, its president and chairman. The board denied the application a month later, based in part on a positive criminal history for one or more disqualifying offense. In response, Reese said he had never been convicted of a crime and included copies of dismissal records for arrests. The board held a special meeting on Jan. 6 to consider Reese s and TigerSwan s application, but again denied it because the application was incomplete.

The complaint said the appeal would be denied until the requested information was provided to the board as to the nature and details of the security and/or investigative activities conducted by TigerSwan in the state of North Dakota.

After shooting, members of Congress want to boost funds for security …

House of Representatives lawmakers want $25,000 each to hire private security right away to protect them in their home districts, an unusually quick, bipartisan response to the shooting of a Republican House leader and others at a baseball practice.

A House panel has approved providing an immediate $10 million for the rest of fiscal 2017, which runs through Sept. 30, for that purpose. Representatives could use the money to pay for an off-duty police officer or private security guard at town halls, fish fries, meet-and-greets or other public events in their districts. The legislation would also add $7.5 million for Capitol Police to bulk up threat assessment and security measures in Washington for fiscal year 2018 especially when lawmakers gather in groups and $5 million for members to invest in cameras, door buzzers, key cards and panic buttons in representatives district offices.

The Federal Election Commission is considering allowing lawmakers to use campaign funds to secure their residences, as well. Capitol Police provide security at lawmakers offices in Washington and at the Capitol building where Congress meets. They also shadow members of the House and Senate leadership teams, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was shot during the baseball practice earlier this month. Scalise was reported to be making good progress and remains hospitalized in fair condition. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, chairman of the subcommittee writing the security budget legislation, wants to provide more money in member s office accounts for personal protection next year as well, but the exact amount hasn t been determined yet.

His legislation assumes Congress existing budget will be enough to absorb increases for security by tapping unused funds members typically return to treasury at the end of each fiscal year.

We believe they need additional resources to meet their mission in his polarized political climate, he said. It still needs to pass through several more steps before final approval, notably support from the full House and Senate. The measure needs House and Senate approval, but signs for increased funding are positive. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for more money. I would support and I have suggested they need a bigger budget, she said of the Capitol Police. EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM

The top Democrat on Yoder s subcommittee, Tim Ryan of Ohio, said Yoder s bill was a good start.

Some members want security details to follow lawmakers wherever they go, Yoder said.

There are a number of members who have had very specific threats and after the Scalise tragedy are feeling legitimately scared that they will be next, he said. The cost for 24-hour personal security guards for all 535 lawmakers in Congress likely would be prohibitive, Yoder said, and could make them less accessible to voters.

It puts up barriers between the public and members of Congress, Yoder said. Lawmakers need to be responsive to the people they represent, he said, and a wall of security would complicate that … So we re trying to find a balance.

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri is one of the members who would like to see heightened personal security for members who want it, at least when they re in their districts. He estimated it would cost about $45,000 to $50,000 a year to hire a personal security guard to protect a member in their home states during weekends and congressional breaks. Even before the shooting, Cleaver felt threatened at times. He s received death threats and racist screeds. A Missouri man firebombed his district office in 2014. More recently, an angry voter screamed at Cleaver at the airport.

I don t want to overstate the threats, he said, but we only talk about it after a tragedy, and if nothing is done now the next time it happens not if it happens again then people will say well it s probably time for us to do something. END OPTIONAL TRIM

Yoder s panel was in the process of writing a bill that included security funding for Congress when gunman James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va. Witnesses said Hodgkinson asked whether the ballplayers were Republicans or Democrats before opening fire.

Members of Congress were badly shaken by the shooting, which wounded Scalise and four others, including two Capitol Police officers who were part of a private security detail traveling with Scalise in his role as a member of the House leadership team. After the shooting, people wrote menacing messages on Yoder s official Facebook page, saying it was too bad he wasn t at the practice too, the congressman said. For Yoder, heightened security concerns have been a factor in his own reluctance to hold a town hall in his suburban Kansas City district.

Town halls in some other Republican-held districts have become rowdy affairs over the past seven months as voters upset about President Donald Trump s victory in November mobilized at a grass roots level to pressure their representatives to resist Trump s agenda.

Yoder said he s been working with media groups and Trump resistance organizations in his district to find a safe venue for a town hall that will accommodate a productive dialogue instead of devolving into a circus

He prefers telephone town halls for now.

Members of Congress are being shot in broad daylight because of what they believe in. Of course we re going to be concerned, he said. We just want to find a safe, constructive format for both me and the constituents.

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