“Why me?” he responded. “They asked if I wanted the spot of gun boss, hand the idea over to me to run with. Who’s going to turn down a chance like that? Seriously? Finding your dream job, being able to help fellow Patriots AND building some quality tools to assist them should we ever need to march to our own Green? Pinch me!”
Another key organizer, who blogs under the name Bonnie Gadsden, is a Californian named Jake Marrujo. Marrujo’s name appears on the paperwork for a company called III Construction, which registered with the Idaho Secretary of State in August. A Jake Marrujo from the same California town as the Marrujo on the III Construction documents is listed on the website of an organization called the Southern California State Militia as one of the militia group’s members.
Finally, and not without some controversy in the survivalist world, there is Christian “Sam” Kerodin. Kerodin has a bit of a back story. In early 2004, Kerodin pleaded guilty to extortion and possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle in a bizarre case in which he was accused of demanding money from mall owners to avoid bad publicity. As the Associated Press reported at the time, Kerodin had portrayed himself as a counterterrorism expert and published several reports in 2003 addressing supposed security issues at malls in the Washington D.C. area. Before publishing the reports, Kerodin approached mall executives, and told them he would not publish negative information about their malls if they hired him to do security assessments.
Kerodin has tried to explain away what happened on one of his websites, but even Miller has acknowledged publicly that his association with The Citadel project could raise problems.
“Mr. Kerodin had the idea and helped get things pointed in the right direction. He’s also stepping away, even from public relations aspects of III Arms… He knows his role is simply to help get things started then walk away,” Miller said in a speech at a small event last fall, which has been posted on YouTube. “He also knows he’s a bit too controversial to be anywhere close to III Arms, except perhaps as a cheerleader on the sidelines. That said, I am the president of III Arms company. Mrs. [Holly] Kerodin will help run the business side because of her qualifications within the business side. I will run the gun side, but it is me running things.”
And in fact, Kerodin’s role has drawn criticism from some bloggers, including Rawles, the American Redoubt coiner, who has warned his readers to “Beware of III Citadel!” One blogger in particular, Mike Vanderboegh, irked Kerodin enough for him to take to his blog during this week.
“Sad Mike Vanderboegh began his political life as a self-identified Communist,” Kerodin wrote. “He’s spent years (decades?) in his life condemning Government while suckling from Entitlement programs, begging for charity and refusing legitimate work. No wonder whenever poor Mikey happens to see Free Enterprise in action he mistakes it for a ‘scam.’”
Kerodin aside, the Citadel’s members have stayed relatively quiet since the sudden attention began. Last Monday Vernon wrote on the project’s blog, calling for calm.
“Breathe,” Vernon exhorted readers new to the project. “Many of you are new to the Citadel Project, and have a million questions. We ask you first read our FAQ’s. Read about us, digest the information, sleep on it. Don’t rush into this, take your time to fully understand what we are about and what it is you want. This is a life changing decision, don’t take it lightly. Take a step back and think for a while. If we don’t answer your questions right away, it’s ok, relax, breathe, we’ll get to it in due time.”
This Monday, Just a III Guy, blogging on behalf of “The Citadel Staff,” offered a little more information.
“The last week found the Citadel swamped with overwhelming support and interest from across America and beyond!” he wrote. “We’ve added many new applicants/reservations, accepted hundreds of email enquiries, and worked very hard to provide as many answers as possible. Even now we still have emails that remain unanswered, but we promise to get to each and every one for you.”
Just a III Guy promised several soon-to-come announcements regarding “corporate officers, near-future plans, and other developments.” And a certain excitement crept through.
“Our sincere thanks to everyone who has shown such outstanding support and patience,” Just a III Guy wrote. “We all look forward to a brilliant and productive 2013… Look for important announcements, soon!”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com