Atty: Kelemen receiving threat calls - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Atty: Kelemen receiving threat calls

TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WXOW) – A tea party activist suing the Town of Campbell and Police Chief Tim Kelemen is back in the news after an investigation into the chief's behavior.

Chief Kelemen is accused of retaliating against activist Greg Luce by using his name and email address to sign him up for websites including dating, pornography and insurance sites, according to an investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

That investigation traced those solicitations, of sorts, back to Kelemen's work and home computers.

Monday News 19 spoke to Luce's attorney who plans to look into how many police resources Kelemen used to find the information to do that.

But the Chief's attorney, Jim Birnbaum, said Kelemen has received his fair share of harassment, too.

Birnbaum said Luce has solicited protesters to leave the chief aggressive messages about the sign control ordinance he's suing the town and Kelemen for. Some callers have even threatened to kill Kelemen and his officers.

Here's an example of a call to Kelemen:
    Caller: (Inaudible) (expletive) freedoms and liberties. You don't give a (expletive) about safety you (expletive) lie (expletive).

In police video News 19 obtained through an open records request, Kelemen told Monroe County investigators that the threats got so bad that he called the Division of Criminal Investigation, but they didn't do much.

"This is ridiculous. I mean if you're the police and somebody's messing with you, what do you do? You go to the police,” Kelemen said in the video.

He blames Luce for the calls, and said someone had hacked into police station computers and attempted to break into his bank account.

But Kelemen also admits to signing Luce up on certain websites.

"That's all we're dealing with is like, computer stuff.” So I'm like, 'Hey buddy, you're messing with me, I’m going to sign you up for a couple of news letters. Take that, pal.' I'm not denying I did it. I didn't think it was that big of a deal,” Kelemen said on video.

Birnbaum said his client only used information that Luce made public.

"There is a major difference between somebody who basically sticks a life insurance agent on somebody, and someone who solicits calls to intimidate, harass and threaten the lives of law enforcement,” he said.

Attorney Jim Kroner, who is not involved in this case, said considering Kelemen's position in the community, prosecuters have many options if they choose to charge Kelemen. Those charges could include felony and/or misdemeanor charges, and/or ordinance violations.

"The felonies that occur to me as potentially being involved here are: misconduct in public office or identity theft,” Kroner said. “Misdemeanor charges, there are potentially charges of computer crimes.”

There could also be a harassment offense, Kroner added.

Kelemen is not charged and there are no known pending charges.

Luce is part of the Overpasses to Impeach Obama movement. It's a group that stood on the pedestrian overpass with banners and flags, asking drivers that supported their cause to honk their horn.

In the fall, the Town of Campbell passed an ordinance banning signs, flags and banners of sorts from that overpasses. The town cited safety concerns and that the signs could be distracting to drivers below.

Luce and one other protester sued the town and Kelemen, arguing the ordinance inhibits their freedom of speech.

The lawsuit is similar to a 2006 case in Madison when the city was sued for an ordinance that also restricted protesters on a city overpass.

"The concern was when people are going under an overpass at high speeds, you don't want them distracted by what's above the overpass. There was evidence in that case, at least, that that was what was going on. People were getting distracted, that traffic was backing up, that accidents were taking place,” Kroner said.

He said the U.S. Supreme Court does have the ability to enact restrictions of free speech as long as those restrictions are limited in terms of time, place and manner in which the limitations are enforced.

The Town of Campbell board met Tuesday night in a closed session to discuss the details of the investigation. Another meeting is set for Thursday.

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