More than a decade after the Montana Freemen made history with their 81-day standoff with U.S. Marshals on the plains of eastern Montana, those lovable right-wing sociopaths are back in the news.
The Anchorage Daily News reported earlier this week that Craig Schweitzer, son of imprisoned Montana Freemen leader Leroy Schweitzer (and second cousin to Gov. Brian Schweitzer), lost his aviation license last month for multiple safety and legal violations. But Craig Schweitzer says that’s baloney and maintains that Federal Aviation Administration inspectors have a vendetta against him because of his family ties to the Freemen, the defunct self-described “Christian Patriot” group famously headed by his father.
According to the Daily News, Craig has had legal disputes with neighbors since bringing his Mavrik Aire air charter business to Alaska the same year as the 1996 Montana standoff.
Schweitzer maintains he has tried to follow the rules.
“As much as people love America—and I feel for it too—I think our government has betrayed us,” Schweitzer told the paper. “There are men who fought and died for the freedoms we’re supposed to have in this country.”
It seems as though Schweitzer the younger has been working from his dad’s playbook while operating his air charter business. According to reports, Schweitzer’s Kenai neighbors say he sued a local homeowner’s association to try to control airplane access to a floatplane basin and restrict potential charter competitors. “What Craig Schweitzer has done is he tries to bully and intimidate people and rides his father’s coattails, and says, ‘If you don’t follow my way of thinking I’m going to sue you,’” Bill Woodin, who operates an air taxi service in King Salmon, told the Daily News.
“It looks like he’s following in his dad’s footsteps right down to what his dad did for a living,” says freelance journalist David Neiwert, author of In God’s Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest, noting that Freemen leader Leroy was a crop duster by trade.