by Robert Plain
Ashland Daily Tidings
August 25, 2006
NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT
YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.
Mike Ruppert is gone. He left not only Ashland, his new-found hometown, but has denied his allegiance to the United States with a reported exodus to Venezuela.
"I left the United States with one large suitcase, my laptop, and a backpack," he wrote in an article on his Web site. "I left behind my precious library, most of my clothing, my personal possessions, my guns, and a house full of furniture. I brought with me less than eight thousand dollars in cash and gold to start the final segment of my life."
Ruppert is the owner and editor of FromTheWilderness.com, a Web site dealing with Peak Oil and alternative Sept. 11 theories. Earlier this year he moved to Ashland and quickly drew a local following of supporters. Ruppert played a role in the Jackson County Sustainability Network, a group of some 200 local people who are trying to localize daily life and food production in the area.
A few computers, along with boxes, are stacked up in the conference room of the From the Wilderness on Washington Street in Ashland. Photo by Orville Hector | Daily Tidings
The former Los Angeles beat cop became an independent journalist to uncover government conspiracies. According to the article on his Web site, he says he has relocated to Venezuela, in part, because of a June burglary at his Ashland office.
"It was the final outrage in almost three decades of attempts to silence my voice," he wrote on his Web site, ostensibly from the South American socialist nation.
However, one of the founders of the local sustainability network says that his recent disappearance raises more questions about the man's mental well-being than any of the reasons Ruppert himself cites for his departure.
"My feeling is he really needed a change in his life," said Michael Dawkins, a friend of Ruppert's who also facilitates a support group for depression and bi-polar disorder. "I think there is some depression or mania there."
A strange burglary
Ruppert's brief tenure in Ashland reached a bizarre climax with the burglary on June 26. Who committed the crime, and why, remains unsolved.
Like the government conspiracy theories he often writes about, his thoughts on the burglary include twists, accusations and of course, government persecution.
"There will be another time and another place, when I can and will say more about what happened," he wrote on his Web site. "Certain important events have yet to unfold, and I'm holding other key facts until the time is right. There are facts about the timing of the burglary that may eventually connect to events here in Venezuela."
Ruppert said he believes a former employee, who he had fired weeks for the crime, burglarized his office.
The former employee thinks she knows who committed the burglary.
"I think he did that himself," she said.
Ashland Police are keeping an open mind. Officers would not rule out Ruppert himself as a suspect.
"At this point the case is still under investigation," Deputy Chief Rich Walsh said. "We're looking into both current and ex-employees."
He added, "We'd like to find out what the purpose of moving to Venezuela was. It may have absolutely nothing to do with it but we would like to know."
A troubled relationship
When interviewed the morning after the alleged burglary, Ruppert said he suspected the employee of trying to use his shipping department to smuggle methamphetamine.
"Her behavior was entirely consistent with meth addiction," he said, noting that some of his clues included highly erratic behavior, mood swings, poor dental hygiene and her slight figure.
According to the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears Ruppert or his allies could try to hurt her, her accusation of sexual harassment caused her dismissal. She denies the meth accusation. "I don't know where he comes up with me being on methamphetamine," she said.
Both parties admit to engaging in conduct typically deemed inappropriate at the workplace, such as conversations about sexual preferences and other flirtatious behavior.
"I made the mistake of not realizing early-on that I was being harassed," the woman said in a statement made public by Victor Thorn, editor of WingTV.net. "For a while I was able just to 'laugh it off' when such comments came from Mr. Ruppert by telling myself it was just a harmless product of a patriarchal American society."
Wing TV is a competing 9-11 conspiracy site. Both Thorn and Ruppert describe themselves as internet rivals. The woman said she did not provide the statement, which outlines the alleged harassment, but a friend of hers did. The friend, she said, is actually another former Ruppert staffer whom she met after leaving From The Wilderness.
The morning after the alleged burglary, Ruppert discussed his troubled relationship with the former employee.
Ruppert admitted to stripping down to his underpants and parading around the office while he and the woman were the only two there, an accusation the woman made in her statement. However, he said his motive wasn't sex but rather an attempt to uncover the woman's "con."
"I was trying to make her show her hand because I knew she was up to something," he said while sitting in his office as Ashland Police surveyed the seven computers that were smashed with a sledge hammer in another room. "I needed to cross a line to make her show her hand."
When asked if he thought this was a wise move on his part, he said, "I handled it the best way I know how. I may spend the rest of my life asking myself that question."
Ruppert denies he harassed the woman, but said he was attracted to her.
"Was I tempted? Sure. Did I think she was cute? Absolutely."
He added, "Nothing she said rises to the level of sexual harassment. I'm a 55-year-old, divorced, healthy male who is lonely. Is that a crime?"
The woman is afraid of Ruppert and fears he might harm her. She doesn't believe that he is in Venezuela.
"I don't know what Ruppert is capable of," she said. "He's mental. My mom wants me to move out of town because she doesn't think I'm safe here."
She said she has reported Ruppert to the state civil rights division for sexual harassment but has not pursued criminal charges. She says she is still considering a wrongful termination lawsuit against him.
"I was the wrong female to mess with," she said.
Ruppert's former employee is not the only one he blames for the alleged burglary. Ruppert also suspects the smashed computers might be related to a government plot to ruin him.
"Other facts started to indicate government involvement," he wrote on his Web site. "As soon as I discovered the burglary I ran next door to the offices of the US Forest Service which shares the same building. I asked [an employee] if they had surveillance cameras covering the front of the building and our only parking lot. Reacting as though I was scaring her to death, she hastily replied, 'No'. I couldn't help but feel she already knew about the burglary."
Indeed, government plots against him have been one of the most consistent aspects to his career as a writer.
"My permanent exodus from the U.S. was actually ordained 30 years ""- to the month ""- before I left for good on July 18th, 2006," he wrote on his Web site. "It was thirty years ago that my then-fiancée, a career contract agent for the CIA, disclosed to me that "her people" were interested in giving a major boost to my career with LAPD if I would become involved with her "anti-terror" operations that involved "overlooking" (i.e. protecting) large drug shipments coming in while facilitating the movement of large quantities of firearms going out."
According to LAPD documents, he was put on leave until he could pass a psychological evaluation.
Staff writer Robert Plain can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org