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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 9:35 AM 

Police respond to flap over Mielke display at AFP summit

Police were called to a Wisconsin Dells conservative event Saturday by GOP congressional candidate Dan Mielke following a dispute with the wife of his primary opponent, Ashland County DA Sean Duffy.

Mielke and Duffy's campaign offered differing accounts of what took place at Americans for Prosperity's "Defending the American Dream" summit.

According to Mielke, Rachel Duffy-Campos tried to remove duct tape that was holding down a flyer titled "Why not Sean Duffy? 2003 starred in a pro-gay marriage video."

Duffy campaign spokesman Darrin Schmitz said Mielke "violently grabbed" Duffy-Campos' arm when she reached for the flyer.

"She's all of 5-feet tall and 8 1/2 months pregnant," Schmitz said. "She's going to give birth within the next couple of weeks. She obviously is not a threat to anyone."
Mielke said Duffy-Campos was "very aggressive," adding he got between her and the table and pulled her hand away to stop her from removing materials from his display.

"I didn't grab her. I held her (hand) in position so she wouldn't tear off the tape, and slid her hand away from the tape and let her go," he said.

In the film, called "The Wedding Video," the couple, both of whom are former cast members on the MTV show "The Real World," play characters named Rachel and Sean who attend a gay wedding. Mielke showed pieces of the film on his laptop at the event, claiming it promotes gay marriage.

"He claims to be this strong conservative, one-man one-woman person, but his background doesn't show that," said Mielke.

Mielke said he called 911 after Campos-Duffy went to organizers to complain about the display.

"I was not trying to create an incident. My goal was not to turn this into a political thing," he said.

After the officer arrived, Mielke said he offered to put a "view at your own risk" note on the laptop screen to warn viewers there may be objectionable content.

"Apparently it's OK to bash a Democrat, but it's not OK to expose a Republican, and I have a problem with that," Mielke said. "If I see something I disagree with ... then I believe I have a right to bring up that difference."

While he said there were a couple more instances in which Duffy supporters "laid into him" throughout the day, Mielke said there was no further interaction with Campos-Duffy and no one from Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin asked him to change his display.

Schmitz said the film is a "mockumentary" and Mielke apparently doesn't realize that it is a satire of reality TV shows, not a documentary stating Duffy's views. He says Duffy "supports traditional marriage," and voted for the constitutional amendment in 2006 banning gay marriage.

Schmitz said the police never spoke with Duffy-Campos.

"Certainly she was fearful and she pulled away and that's the reason she left is because he acted violently and he's fortunate someone didn't share that with authorities or he may have been taken down to the station or questioned," Schmitz said.

The Wisconsin Dells Police Department confirmed an officer responded to a call from the event shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, as did security from Chula Vista Resort, the site of the conference.

No report was filed on the incident, a dispatcher said.


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