Thursday, June 6, 2013

Controversy Leads Into Democratic State Convention

With just two days until the kickoff of the state Democratic convention, a wee bit of controversy has kicked up, but not where one might have expected it.

I would have thought that one of the biggest issues would be the election for the Party chair.  The incumbent Mike Tate has been a lightning rod for blame, rightly or wrongly, for the series of losses the party has won, especially on a state level.  Tate is being challenged by Joe Kallas, who I guess is from the Fox Lake area.  Other than that, precious little is known about him.

The only other race which is being contested is that of second vice-chair.  The race is between Jeff Christensen and Jamie Shiner.  As with the Tate/Kallas match up, this race also has been rather quiet.

Until today.

Scott Michalak, the man who took on Joel "Get in mah belly" Kleefisch, feels he was wronged by Christensen and has been telling his beef to everyone and anyone who would listen.

Christensen, who has been striving to avoid this confrontation, realized this was no longer possible, issued this statement:
Tonight I was made aware of a Facebook post by Scott Michalak accusing me of doing wrong by him. It’s too bad that he chooses this public course, but let me state I stand by all of my actions in this situation.

First let me preface this by mentioning a process we use in the 5th Congressional District: checking the background of all candidates before the primary. We do this to remove risk of having candidates on the ballot who do not share our values. I ran this check in the spring of 2012 and Mr. Michalak came up clean. Even more so, he did not indicate to us that such an issue existed.
I also found out later that Portage County did not join the CCAP program until July of 2012, which is why the document did not appear on our first check.

In September I was notified by one of our county chairs of a potential issue for Scott on the CCAP system. We looked into it and saw a listing for a temporary restraining order (TRO) from 1999. Not wanting to judge, I had the actual case file pulled from Portage County. I received the file and immediately gave copies to the chairs of the counties in the district. A member of the DPW staff also received a copy of the file.

On the evening of September 30th, we held a conference call to discuss the case. The case is quite graphic in its descriptions of its accusations of domestic abuse. I will save you the grizzly details. Beyond the initial reaction, we noticed two key details: the TRO was put into place, and that the dismissal was not a clearance but rather was rolled into the family case.
If we had discovered this about a republican candidate, we absolutely would have made it public. Even more so, is that this is an official document that indicates the individual does not share our values.

After an extremely fast discussion we came to a collaborative and unanimous decision to suspend all support for Mr. Michalak. It was also decided that I would be the one to explain this decision to Scott in person. We figured after putting his name on the ballot, he deserved an explanation to his face.

I met with Scott that week in Jefferson, with a third party observer in the room. I gave him a copy of the file and informed him that we were pulling our support. He attempted to plead his case, which I understood in that this is a domestic “he said, she said”. However politics is the court of public opinion, not the court of law and we were dealing with a court record. I read to him a paragraph from the case and explained how this could be used against him.

I encouraged Scott to suspend his campaign for Assembly, to minimize the risk to him and his family. The last thing I thought he needed was for him and his family to relive all of this via the press. I told him I thought it was a shame, as he was working extremely hard; which is something I always respect in a candidate. As we finished the conversation he became more combative and actually referred to Erin Sievert, the chair of Jefferson County as “C**t”. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on what he said.

If you want to see the case for yourself, you’ll have to pull it; as I’m going to save Mr. Michalak that indignity. I had spoken with all of the chairs and party officials at the time and again in post mortem and am convinced more than ever that we made the right decision as leaders. I stand behind it 100%.
For the record, unaware of the allegations against Michalak, had endorsed him for that race.

It's sad that it has come to this, but politics is a contact sport.  Even if what Michalak claims about being innocent is true, he's got to be aware that most people sadly don't dedicated that much time or effort to learn about a candidate.  All they would see or hear is domestic abuse and beating the family pet.

No, it's not fair and it's not right, but that is the way it is.


  1. As an independent that feels the Democratic party has literally cowtowed to Republicans on important issues like NDAA, whether or not to call for general strike against dictator walker, the out rigging and stealing of the recall election, and the list goes on, I decided reluctantly to attend the convention with Scott Michalak upon his invitation, but I would only go as an antagonist, not in a supporting position. I totally trust Scott's views and I feel much as he does that the Democratic party is selling out the American people just to play nice with the Republicans and Tea Party. We as a state and a country are on the verge of a revolution and civil war, and all because the people who have the capability to draw the line are too afraid to. I feel if Scott can't get Tate and Christianson to honestly debate their differences because they are afraid of their own skeletons, what other choice does Scott have. Either you Democrats are gonna pony up and get some cajones and go to war against these self righteous greedy other party opponents and the lobbyists, and stop accepting money under the tables yourself, or this country is doomed.

  2. I found the dimissed abuse case regarding Michalak, but have found nothing in regards to the restraining order Jeff Christensen speaks of. Can anyone supply a link to show that what he is using as proof even exists?

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  5. Doug, you took Scott at his word and didn't do your homework. The TRO was rolled over into the family court case.

  6. Continuing to support Scott as a candidate would have been malpractice by the party. I applaud Jeff for having the professionalism to discuss this with him face to face and the class to keep it quiet. It was Scott who opened this closet of skeletons, not Jeff. I will not support a known misogynist - there is no excuse for domestic violence.

  7. My apologies-tech difficulties.
    Here's the TRO:

    This will be my final involvement in this matter.

  8. I do want to point out, that a TRO can be issued on someone just based off of a statement of one person also. Jeff pointed out that this was added to the family case, and was dismissed with the family case. There was never a permanent restraining order issued as far as I can see, so the temporary restraining order was dismissed at the same time as the family case it was added to. Still equals proof of guilt of nothing. It stinks that someone like Jeff Christensen can decide himself to be hushed, jury, and executioner with no proven facts that the person ever did anything. It was dismissed. Not guilty.

    1. Doug, I've seen the court order and findings. The evidence is there. And Jeff did not do it alone. You need to be angry with a lot more people.

  9. No maybe you SHOULD have one final involvement -

    Slander and defamation are winnable law suits.


    Portage County Case Number 1999CV000263

    The court did not issue an injunction against the respondent in this case. The reasons were stated on the record and may be explained in the final order. No adverse inference should be drawn against the respondent when an injunction is denied or a case dismissed. The fact that a petition was originally filed means nothing.

  11. Two things:

    1. Didn't the statement mention a collaborative process? If so, wouldn't that mean that it wasn't one person making this decision?

    2. Legally this appears to be a court record. While it is not usable for an employer, I'm doubting the party was his employer, hence there is no legal claim.

  12. "In order for defamation to be actionable, the communication must be defamatory of the plaintiff, it must be false and there must be publication to a third party. At least in some situations, there must be some degree of fault on the part of the communicator, and at least in some situations, damages can be recovered only if there is actual harm."
    Knowingly lying and contriving a story as fact published on the internet might just qualify.

  13. I don't see a bit of actionable material in this matter whatsoever.

    Maybe it's just possible that people just like this type of drama all too much.

  14. First, I am a long retired psychiatric social worker and my husband does frequent assessments of families involved in custody disputes and charges of the kind made against Scott Michalek. There is absolutely nothing unusual at all about spouses making even the most bizarre charges against each other during marital conflict and court disputes. Second, there is much that is known about Joe Kallas, running against Mike Tate, as he has a long history of activity in his state party, a Facebook page, a platform, has run for office previously, is an officer of his county party, had a career as an educator... Third, Mr. Michalek was willing to pay the price of public scrutiny - shouldn't that have been his decision? I have heard the word "cunt" before. No, I don't like it. But, I live in a former GM town. Politics is a contact sport and when someone's political career is derailed, well... hmmm? It can get a little bruising.

    1. I have seven years in the foster care system and a total of over 25 yeas in social/psychological work. Yes, many nasty things can be said without them being true.

      But whether they are true or not was not the basis of the decision. It was how would these document would affect Michalak's campaign and the Party.

      And I believe that Mr. Michalak did complete his campaign, sans Party. He is allowed to do what he wanted, but so is Christensen.

  15. Use of the word "cunt" is not acceptable for any candidate, ever, under the name of Democratic, Progressive, or decent. Period. If Mr. Michalek maintains that didn't use that word during his campaign, he should say so. Otherwise, he should just leave politics behind.