A Wisconsin police chief used his official and personal computers to harass a Tea Party activist who is suing him in federal court. Confronted by law enforcement investigators about the harassment, the chief initially denied having any knowledge of it. Told of the evidence against him, he admitted he had spent time harassing a private citizen out of spite.
Tim Kelemen is the police chief in the town of Campbell, Wisconsin. He has a personal vendetta against local activist Greg Luce.
Luce, a colorful and voluble protester, has repeatedly organized local rallies and protests of various Obama Administration policies. Kelemen’s police force has repeatedly monitored the events and even cited Luce and his friends for violations of a local ordinance banning signs and banners in certain public areas.
The Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan is pressing a federal lawsuit lawsuit on behalf of Luce against the town of Campbell and Kelemen, the police chief, on First Amendment free speech grounds.
Facing the federal lawsuit, Kelemen decided to take revenge into his own hands. A report filed by an investigator with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says that Kelemen established a fake identity for Luce on Match.com, and signed him up for solicitations from numerous gay pornography websites.
Kelemen also signed Luce up for HealthCare.gov.
Subpoenas of various website records found that Kelemen used both his official police department computer and his personal computer to build the fake identity and generate e-mail solicitations. He also trolled a local newspaper’s website under the screen name of “Bill O’Riley” to leave comments demeaning Luce.
Video footage of the interview between Kelemen and an attorney with the Monroe County District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s investigator has been obtained and made public by a La Crosse, Wisconsin area Tea Party group.
When Kelemen was asked by the investigator if he knew about Luce, he said “he’s nuttier than f**k.”
Directly asked if he knew about attempts to sign Luce up for various solicitations and accounts, Kelemen flatly denied knowledge of the actions. “Do I know anything about that?” Kelemen repeated the question back to the investigator. “No, I don’t know anything about that.”
“Nothing at all?” the investigator asked.
“No,” Kelemen repeated.
“I know that you know something about that,” the investigator said before explaining to Kelemen that he already had evidence of the police chief’s actions.
“Technically, to use his info like you did, is against the law,” the investigator said.
Thrown on the defensive, the police chief explained that he was tired of Luce and other activists filming his police officers with their phones and video cameras.
Indignant that he would be investigated for his actions, Kelemen protested during the interview that his use of Luce’s information was all to simply get back at the activist.
But according to Wisconsin law, it is a Class H felony to intentionally misuse a person’s personally identifying information, or pose as that person, to harm their reputation.
Investigators subsequently seized further evidence of Kelemen’s actions at both his home and his police department.
Kelemen has retained an attorney to defend him as the probe into alleged misconduct continues. That attorney, Jim Birnbaum, told a local newspaper that Tea Party activists are “irresponsible and dangerous with zero credibility.”
What happens next will depend on what local prosecutors decide to do.