Wisconsin Police Chief And Tea Party Battle Over Bridge Signs and Gay Dating Websites
Police Chief Tim Keleman was a happy Republican working hard to keep the little town of Campbell, Wisconsin a safe and friendly place to live. Then he ran into the Tea Party that drove him so crazy with their madness he disavowed his GOP membership and now faces firing from his job after a humorous, albeit inappropriate, attempt at retribution.
You see, the local Tea Party decided that their first amendment right to hate on President Obama trumps any sort of public safety issue that might arise from their demonstrations. They insist on hanging anti-Obama signs from a highway overpass any time they want, despite warnings of a potential hazard to motorists below.
La Crosse Tea Party members held at least five protests on the overpass between August and October, according to court documents. Kelemen noticed interstate traffic slowed in response to the protesters’ signs and banners. Concerned the protests were creating a safety hazard, he convinced the town board to pass an ordinance in October banning signs, banners and flags on the bridge.
Well, it’s their party and they’ll cry if they want to and, of course, the Tea Partiers took great offense to the ban. When you tread on the Tea Party it’s easy to guess what comes next.
Tea party supporters flooded the five-officer department with complaints; some threatened the officers with death, according to Kelemen’s records. Someone also tried to hack into his personal bank accounts and a department computer, the chief said.
Clearly frustrated, the small town police chief enacted his own retribution by registering a top Tea Party official on a gay dating website. That went over about as well as could be expected and now the lawyers are involved.
“This reaction by a public officer, I don’t know how to describe it. Just extremely unfortunate and poor decision-making,” said Erin Mersino, attorney for local tea party leader Greg Luce. Keleman’s lawyer, Jim Birnbaum, counters that the tea party pushed his client to the edge. “There’s a major difference between an exercise of poor judgment and a crime,” Birnbaum said. “They’re under fire with threats. The tea party invited the wolves out of the forest.”