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Charges filed against political aide over scuffle with cameraman

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    NMU         WISCONSIN         Newsgathering         Feb 14, 2001    

Charges filed against political aide over scuffle with cameraman

  • A legislative aide to the Assembly speaker will appear in court on Feb. 19 to face a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

The Dane County district attorney on Feb. 12 filed criminal charges against a state legislative aide accused of harassing a news cameraman at the capitol building in Madison, Wisc.

Steve Baas, communications director for Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, was charged with disorderly conduct after the district attorney’s office investigated a confrontation inside the state Capitol on Jan. 30. Steve Cady, a cameraman for WBAY-TV in Green Bay, claimed Baas collared him by the necktie while he and a reporter attempted to interview another Jensen aide.

In a complaint filed with capitol police after the confrontation, Cady claimed Baas spun him around by his necktie and let go of him only when Cady shouted that he captured the incident on videotape. Baas said he tried to move Cady from blocking the hallway and claimed Cady tried to hit him during the confrontation.

Cady said the videotape “pretty much exonerates” him from Baas’ accusation. Baas will appear in Dane County Circuit Court on Feb. 19. Disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine or a 90-day jail sentence.

Although she did not file a complaint, reporter Natalie Arnold said in an interview with The Green Bay News-Chronicle that other Jensen staff members “manhandled” her by shoving her against the wall in an attempt to prevent the interview.

The scuffle occurred when Cady and Arnold went to the Capitol to question R. J. Pirlot, another aide to Speaker Jensen, about his involvement in a campaign against state Rep. Lee Meyerhofer (D-Kaukauna). WBAY News has been investigating allegations that Pirlot anonymously provided court transcripts to an independent campaign group. The group has been accused of producing a campaign radio spot that portrayed Meyerhofer as a “wife-beater.”

(City of Madison v. Baas) ML

© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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