Why would the DA, presumably someone with a fairly heavy caseload of slightly more pressing issues, swoop in to sniff around in one guy's computer, you might ask?
Well, as it turns out, conservative (the exceptionally silly kind, specifically) activist group Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) filed a complaint with said DA alleging that capper, a county employee, was blogging while at work. Which, if true, would certainly be a giant no-no and even I, friend of the capster, would advocate appropriate legal wrist slapping.
Oh but there's a whole lot more to the story than that, surprise surprise. Let's put it all in handy, bullet list format, shall we? Makes it more digestible, like taking a lactase pill before eating cheese:
- Though bloggers have long used the tactic of "I bet you write while at work!" to attack their political foes, back in May one was actually caught doing just that: Darlene Wink, constituent services coordinator for Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, got caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar and was forced to resign because of it. Turns out she'd been posting comments, under several pseudonyms, at a bunch of sites in turn praising Walker, her boss, and lambasting his critics. Tsk tsk.
- Curiosity then piqued, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed an open records request for the internet browsing history of computers in Walker's office - just to be sure no one else was up to Wink-like shenanigans as well. (Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr. also filed a complaint with the DA asking that a criminal investigation of Wink be started.)
- In response, Cheryl Berdan of the county executive's office claimed that making those records available would cost anywhere from a cool $400 to nearly $900. Apparently no one bothered to tell anyone at the county exec's HQ that the world's upgraded from mimeograph machines, because I'm fairly certain just exporting browser history into a word document of some sort is pretty dang cheap.
- Anyway, all of this made a lot of the more rabid right-wing bloggers in the state feel especially butt hurt and angry, and many began looking for potential targets to redirect the controversy onto. Enter capper, an outspoken and somewhat prolific lefty blogger who also happens to work for the county. BINGO.
- So the CRG figures, "Hey! That guy totally has to be writing and posting on county time, because our people do it, like, constantly, and my worldview is so skewed because of it that clearly my opponents must be just as daring/stupid." They go right to the DA with a complaint, who for some reason decides he has nothing better to do and seizes capper's work computer. For the CRG and its allies, there is much rejoicing.
Every single one of the dates in question was either 1) an unpaid furlough day county employees were all forced to take (thanks, Scott Walker!), 2) a pre-approved vacation day that capper usually announced directly on the blog, or 3) an official holiday. Like MLK Jr. Day and Memorial Day. THE HORROR.
Capper's rightfully employed a lawyer to handle what could very well turn into a defamation or libel suit against CRG and any of the several bloggers who've been posting scurrilous nonsense about the incident, some even pretending to be capper.
One such comment, posted at Boots & Sabers, even went so far as to claim that the investigation had uncovered pr0n on capper's 'puter - which put Owen Robinson, owner of the site, on the receiving end of a take-down letter from capper's attorney.
Really, the whole thing strikes me as one giant waste of the DA's (and the public's, for that matter) time, all because of some petty political vendetta. For a group that claims to be all about more responsible government and use of taxpayer money, CRG sure does seem to be overly prone to irresponsible behavior.
But hey, this is just the sort of ridiculousness Wisconsin will be in for if it elects Scott Walker as its governor - or Ron Johnson as its Senator. In addition to their own, personal shortcomings, they're liable to bring along a whole posse of like-minded supporters who'll spend all their time on partisan bickering and one-upmanship, instead of on, oh I don't know, job creation? The environment? Education? Silly little things like that.