Skip to comments.WI lawmaker: Political threats only going to get worse
Posted on 03/02/2012 8:05:10 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
MADISON Joel Kleefisch said the nastiness can be relentless.
But the verbal assaults on his wife, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and his family are the most hurtful, he said.
One of the protesters yelled at me, Your wifes an effing whore, said Kleefisch, a Republican state representative from Oconomowoc. Its abhorrent and in no way a form of expression that we should protect.
These are politically charged days in Wisconsin, where angry, profane, abusive speech has become more common than any time in recent memory, state political watchers say.
Political expression, it seems, has become all the more pitched in these days of recall, and Rebecca Kleefisch carries a big recall target on her back.
The lieutenant governor, Gov. Scott Walker and four Republican state senators all face the very real prospect of being recalled, with campaigns collecting a reported 1.9 million signatures combined on recall petitions.
Being the husband of target makes me a target, Joel Kleefisch told Wisconsin Reporter.
Kleefisch, an arch-conservative in a deeply divided Legislature, has been a point of ire of liberal lawmakers for his outspoken approach to law-making.
But Kleefisch and other subjects of political vitriol and threats say some have taken protest and free speech too far.
Record of threats
A review of updated state Department of Justice report, released in late last year, notes 90 incidents of suspected threats against lawmakers, the governor, their families and others between Feb. 17, 2011, and March 25, 2011.
The information, subject to an open records request from multiple media outlets, covers the period when Wisconsin politics exploded in the days following the introduction of Walkers Act 10, the bill now law that ended collective bargaining from most unionized public employees in Wisconsin.
Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the Capitol, the 14 state Democratic senators fled to Illinois to delay a vote on the bill, and hostilities flared.
While many of the incidents could not be substantiated or not deemed a viable threat, the language was no less alarming to those who filed the complaints.
Some of the reports included: An anonymous typed letter sent via U.S. mail addressed to the first lady, Tonette Walker. Request to follow up on a threat to the governor: The suspect reportedly was very agitated and stated that if the governor keeps attacking teacher unions he would be assassinated. This was deemed to not be a viable threat. Caller to the home of state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, asked his whereabouts. Daughter identified herself and stated, You need to leave him alone. Caller responded to the effect of then were coming after you next. An unidentified male called and wanted to meet with state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma. When told she was unavailable, he asked the chief of staff asking for her address and stated that he would like to take her on a date and take her for a ride. An email sent to state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, saying just maybe some nut will do too (sic) you what happen too that poor congresswoman in Arizona, a reference to former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, who was shot in the head and seriously wounded in a mass shooting in Tucson.
Growing like a cancer
Some lawmakers have said the threats, vandalism and other crimes havent stopped during the past year.
Im expecting it to get worse, said state Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who claims hes been the victim of vandalism, noting an incident where someone peeled the N from his name on his office door.
Its just keeps growing like a cancer. I think it will get heated up going into the recalls, in particular with Walker, the lawmaker said.
Nass said his friend and fellow Republican lawmaker, Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn, has reported multiple incidents of roofing nails tossed all over his driveway.
Walworth County Sheriff David Graves confirmed his department has taken a number of reports of nails and dead fish thrown on the lawmakers property. He said the investigation is ongoing and could not release information.
Protester Miles Kristan shouted profanities at Vos and dumped beer on him at a Capitol-area bar last September.
In December, Kristan pleaded no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct and was ordered to pay court costs. He apologized to Vos, and paid for the costs of cleaning the lawmakers suit.
Its unclear if the number of threats to lawmakers and Capitol officials has increased in recent months.
Asked for figures and comment, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs referred questions to the state Department of Administration.
Asked for incident numbers, DOA spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster told Wisconsin Reporter that Capitol Police investigate all threats and suspected crimes reported to them. As a matter of policy, DOA and Capitol Police do not comment on security procedures.
She did not respond to a follow-up email noting that Wisconsin Reporter is not seeking information on security procedures but numbers on suspected threats.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck, too, said the office could not comment on what the department may or may not be investigating. She advised Wisconsin Reporter to file an open records request, something Wisconsin Reporter intends to do.
There have been relatively few arrests for threats against state public officials, although there have been some controversial dismissals.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne in November opted not to file charges against Regan Cowan, the woman who posted a death threat against Walker. Ozanne argued the Facebook post did not appear intended to reach the governor.
Late last year, Katherine Windels, found to have emailed death threats against Republican lawmakers, was allowed by a judge to enter a first offenders program, eligible to avoid conviction if she meets program requirements.
Several other cases in last years incident reports werent deemed viable threats, some involving an individual who claimed to have had too much to drink and behaved rashly and others who, when located, said they regretted their actions and meant no harm.
Wisconsin Threats Against Lawmakers Ping
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The problem is.. the union thugs have been so used to being the power brokers in states like Wisconsin. They’re not taking well to having that little arrangement flipped on its head.
Soon, the verbal will become the physical... the unions thugs don’t play. I hope Walker and the rest of the Repubs have good security.
I used to have a neighbor who was a Teamster.
He had a very warped sense of morality. Almost no
act of violence or sabotage was unthinkable, so long
as at the end of the day it advanced “the cause of
the workin’ man!”
These dirty little pipsqueaks don’t realize that all they’re accomplishing is to make it that much easier to cut them down when the time comes No mercy, no remorse.
I worry about them and their families. At times, the thugs are all over his front lawn at his home. Not the Governor’s house in Madison, his front lawn at his home in Wauwatosa. Sometimes only the children and their grandparents are there. It’s outrageous. I don’t think anyone on the right would do that to the left. At least they never have in the past.
Gotta love how they site TWO examples of “alleged” threats to Democrat legislators. Must perpetuate the myth that “both sides are equally guilty”
Liberals talk, conservatives act.
Please God it never occurs, but when a very nervous elderly grandparent grabs the family shotgun to defend his/her terrified grandchildren, the “thugs” will express shock and horrified surprise.
Lock and load. One must communicate in the language others understand, no matter the form of the language.
Got to admit - that one made me laugh.
These Union thugs are a regional hazard with it's epicenter located in Chicago. As much as Chicago and Illinois residents utilize Wisconsin for their recreation, the recall walker crowd is a movable feast of union, socialist, anarchist and organized crime.
They are the foot soldiers in Hussein's private army folks. Just think of what we might see? General Charles Barkley of the NBA's Second Army. It should be interesting.
Scott’s father is a retired minister.
Scott’s father may well be a retired Minister, but it appears he is an ACTIVE grandfather.
A “thug’s” last hearing could well be, “God will show mercy to your soul. Sadly, I can’t.”
Governor Scott is the definition of a FIGHTER and, olde saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
When Scott spoke at CPAC, he said even is mother (in her 70’s) is verbally attacked at the grocery store.
Evil liberals. We must defeat them at every turn until they are no more then gnats to swat away.