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Republican State Senator Tries to Suppress Criticism

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Message Michael Leon
Right wing Wisconsin State Senator Tom Reynolds (R-West Allis, WI) does not like being called a "half-baked clown" on the internet, and likes questions about his alleged violations of Wisconsin election law even less.

Tom Reynolds' response? Suppress free speech questioning his campaign conduct by getting an attorney to threaten a law suit against a blogger for libel and slander.

At issue are allegations that Senator Reynolds "used campaign funds to heat his home" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 19, 2006) that have been the subject of numerous postings on the "Milwaukee Rising" blog (, authored by Gretchen Schuldt.

In response to Schuldt's postings, Schuldt received a letter from the Petrie & Stocking S.C. law firm asserting that Schuldt is "blatantly libeling and slandering" the good Senator, and demanding a "retraction," adding:

"When you comply with the retraction(s) please notify me at once by furnishing me with a copy of the same via fax at (414) 276-0731 if you do not publish the retraction within seven days of the date of this letter a lawsuit will be started."

As Wisconsin Democrats turn up the political heat on Reynolds on this issue through a complaint to the State Elections Board, letters, and television ads, the attempt to shut down Schuldt is a desperate act of a wacky state senator against an excellent writer whose only apparent sin is her critical fact-based reporting.

As for Schuldt, she posted the cease and desist letter with the preface, "...Nothing like a little intimidation and suppression effort to squelch a rising controversy, eh?"

It seems Senator Reynolds is taking his direction on suppressing information flow from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

Laughing off and exposing this clumsy and bone-headed effort to shut down journalistic criticism, as Schuldt has done on her Milwaukee Rising blog, is a wise course of action.

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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