Kapanke target of threats, vandalism

2011-03-17T00:05:00Z 2011-03-17T09:54:03Z Kapanke target of threats, vandalismChris Hubbuch | chubbuch@lacrossetribune.com La Crosse Tribune

Sen. Dan Kapanke has canceled upcoming district meetings after being the target of threats and vandalism. Rose Smyrski, Kapanke's chief of staff, said the senator's car window was smashed in Madison, and his wife found nails scattered in the driveway of their French Island home.

He also received death threats.

The second-term Republican had scheduled a listening session Friday in Ontario and office hours Monday in West Salem. Another meeting in La Farge had not been announced, legislative aide Hannah Huffman said.

Kapanke issued a written statement saying he is evaluating future public appearances and would be "balancing his availability to the public and his safety" and that he "remains committed to meeting one-on-one with constituents."

For the time being Kapanke is limiting his meetings with big groups.

"He is someone who wants to be accessible," Smyrski said. "I just want to make sure he's safe."

She said she continues to set up individual constituent meetings, although the size of the district makes it challenging to fit everyone into his schedule.

Kapanke has been a target of numerous protests - as well as a recall effort - over his support for Gov. Scott Walker's controversial proposal to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The threats are being investigated by the state Department of Justice, which said last week it had identified and located the person behind at least two threats made against elected officials in recent weeks. No other information about the person was released.

The e-mails included threats to kill Gov. Scott Walker and eight Republican senators.

"If you and your goonies feel that it's necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives," one e-mail read, "we will ‘get rid of' (in which I mean kill) the 8 of you."

Smyrski said Kapanke also received a separate unique threat.

"It was unnerving," she said.

A vocal opponent of Walker's bill and of Republican legislative tactics, Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) denounced the threats and vandalism in a written statement Thursday.

"I have said from the beginning of this session that those involved in political discourse have a responsibility to engage in meaningful debate and do so in a way that does not tear down our country or each other," she wrote. "I am once again calling for all citizens to make their voices heard and participate in this debate peacefully."

Kapanke said last week he was concerned for his family but didn't plan to drastically alter his routine.

"I'm a pretty trusting guy," he said. "I love to be with people. I'm going to continue to do that but be a little more cautious."

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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