$15K reward offered by conservative think tank whose Golden Valley office was set on fire

A prominent conservative think tank is offering a $15,000 reward in an effort to determine who is responsible for setting fire to its Golden Valley headquarters.

Along with announcing the reward Thursday, the president of Center of the American Experiment disclosed what fueled the fire on Jan. 28 at its headquarters, located south of Interstate 394 and east of Hwy. 169.

“They used gasoline as an accelerant” to ignite fires on the first and third floors of the building, which has a variety of tenants, said John Hinderaker, the center’s president. “And those two fires did terrible damage to this building.”

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is among the agencies investigating the fire. Others include the FBI, the Golden Valley Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal.

The ATF within a few days of the fire said it is investigating the blaze as arson. Agency spokeswoman Ashlee Sherrill said Friday she has no new details to share about how the fire was started.

Two other conservative organizations in the same building, the Upper Midwest Law Center and Take Charge, were also flushed out of their offices by the blaze, as were various medical professionals.

“The investigation is making good progress,” Hinderaker said at a news conference outside the building, where cleanup and preparation for repairs are underway. “We are determined to catch the people who committed this terrible, terrible crime. … It cost millions and millions of dollars in damages. We have no idea what that final tab is going to be.”

Sherrill said that anyone with information about the fire is encouraged to call1-888-ATF-TIPS or email Tips are also being accepted by the State Fair Marshal at 1-800-723-2020.

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