A. The First Roundup
The Roundup began in 1980, when Rightmyer decided to hold a cookout and whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River. [ / Larry Stewart testified at the Senate hearing that he believed that Roundup started in 1978 or 1979 in Georgia. Although there were camping trips in Georgia in the late 1970s attended by law enforcement personnel, these events were not organized by Rightmyer and were not called Good O' Boy Roundups. ] Initially, the trip was intended to be for agents in ATF's Knoxville office, but when word of the planned trip spread and others indicated their interest in attending, Rightmyer decided to invite ATF agents from other offices and their friends as well. Rightmyer did not send formal invitations, but he did make telephone calls to create interest in the event. Fifty-eight people attended, approximately thirty-one of whom were employed by ATF. Rightmyer named the outing the "Good O' Boy Roundup." [ / Rightmyer testified that he did not recall why he selected that name. For a discussion of the possible interpretations of this name see infra p. 119. ]
Although Rightmyer and the majority of initial attendees worked for ATF, he intended the outing to be a private party with no official sponsorship. Rightmyer told us that no ATF funds or resources, except perhaps for some copier paper, were used for the outing. We found no credible evidence to the contrary. [ / Curtis Cooper and Dondi Albritton have alleged that Rightmyer used ATF stationery to promote the Roundup. We have concluded that these allegations are not supported by the evidence. While there was an incident in 1988 where Rightmyer was admonished for using ATF letterhead for personal business, this incident related solely to the promotion of real estate and not the Roundup. Although in an interview after the Senate hearing Cooper said that he had no personal knowledge that the letterhead materials referred to the Roundup and was merely repeating what he had been told by others, we learned subsequently that, as part of his testimony in an unrelated lawsuit in 1989, Cooper had been shown these documents and had testified under oath that these materials concerned real estate promotion. Albritton claimed to have been shown these materials while he was assigned to ATF's Oklahoma City office and they were invitations to the Roundup. We reviewed these materials and found no reference to the Roundup in any of them. One of the early television news stories on the Roundup broadcast a copy of a May 27, 1988, letter, which purportedly demonstrated that Rightmyer had been admonished for using ATF stationery for the Roundup. We have reviewed the letter shown on the news and, again, it was the letter dealing with the real estate incident, not the Roundup. ] Rightmyer recalled that the first Roundup was held outside of office hours on a weekend. Others remembered the event occurring on a Thursday and Friday and that they took leave to attend. [ / The invitation to the 1984 Roundup indicates that the Roundup was being switched from Thursday/Friday to Friday/Saturday. We do not know if the Thursday/Friday schedule had been instituted from the beginning or arose after the first year. ] All agreed it was a single overnight trip costing approximately $20.
The 1980 Roundup was held at the Thunder Rock campground in the Cherokee National Forest near Ducktown, Tennessee, along the banks of the Ocoee River. Other than whitewater rafting, there were no formal activities and no set agenda. At night the attendees had a cookout and drank beer. Rightmyer determined the event to be a success, so he made plans to hold another one the following year. The ATF Director's Report in June 1980 announced that the first annual "Good O' Boy Roundup" had taken place and suggested that people put it on their calendars for the following year. This was the only instance we found during our investigation of any institutional support for the Roundup by ATF top management.