GOP lawmaker forced to pay $30,000 for removing anti-Trump sign


Wisconsin lawmaker Dale Kooyenga incurred the $30,000 fine after removing a permitted sign he didn't agree with.

Wisconsin assemblyman Dale Kooyenga, a Republican, is forced to pay the $30,000 settlement he brought on himself by improperly removing an anti-Trump sign.

Kooyenga is currently running for the seat in Wisconsin State Senate's 5th District, which includes parts of Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

A controversy was touched when Kooyenga removed a sign placed in the state Capitol describing (admitted sexual predator) Trump as a "serial groper" and "corrupt."

The man who put the sign there, Donald Johnson, had a state permit to put it up, and attached a copy of his permit to the back of the sign. Despite that, Kooyenga removed the sign and kept it in his office. Capitol Police discovered that it was Kooyenga after reviewing security footage showing the incident.

When his behavior was exposed, the Republican came up with a series of increasingly absurd defenses for his actions.

He claimed he was concerned about children seeing the sign, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted after reviewing the video footage, "a small number of people — none of them children — walk past the sign and appear to take little notice of it."

Kooyenga also claimed — citing his military training — that the sign was a risk because signs against curved walls could conceal something dangerous. The Sentinel noted, "The video shows the sign is on an easel and it appears it would be difficult to hide something behind it."

Johnson sued over the sign removal and $30,000 was agreed upon as the fee for a settlement.

Amazingly, Kooyenga tried to get Wisconsin taxpayers to pay off the expense he had caused.

He later reversed course and said he would pay the money, though it was unclear whether he would use campaign funds, rather than his personal funds, to cover the costs.

Lester Pines, the attorney who represented Johnson, told the paper, "I think politically he realized he wouldn't stand much of a chance of getting elected if he didn't pay taxpayers back."

In the race for the state senate seat, Kooyenga faces Democrat Julie Henszey.

Henzey was raised on a farm in Iowa, and said she plans to support affordable health care, legislation that protects the environment, and increased funding for public schools.

In contrast to Kooyenga's reflexive defense of Trump, Henszey serves on the leadership teams for groups like Indivisible and Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Those groups have worked at the state level to resist Trump policies.

Wisconsin residents will have a decision to make between someone whose loyalty to Trump nearly cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, or someone who stands up to his brand of politics.