Dale Kooyenga, Republican Wisconsin Politician, To Pay $30,000 For Removing Protester’s Anti-Trump Sign

The Wisconsin taxpayers had been on the hook for the settlement, but Kooyenga says he'll pay it himself.

Dale Kooyenga destroyed an anti-trump sign
Wisconsin State Legislature

The Wisconsin taxpayers had been on the hook for the settlement, but Kooyenga says he'll pay it himself.

Dale Kooyenga, a Wisconsin Republican who represents parts of the Milwaukee area, will personally pay $30,000 to settle a lawsuit after he removed an anti-Trump sign from the State Capitol.

As The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in April, back in May 2017, Kooyenga found himself at the center of a kerfuffle over an anti-Trump sign that had been placed in a public area of the building. Madison resident Donald Johnson had obtained a permit to display the sign, which condemned Republicans for backing Trump, although the sign didn’t mention Trump by name. Referring to the president as “corrupt” and a “serial groper,” the sign said “We the people be damned.”

Johnson had taped his permit to the back of the sign.

Kooyenga was caught on security cameras removing the sign and then taking it to his office. He at first said that he removed the sign because he thought it was “inappropriate.” Over the next few months, he changed his story several times, at various points saying he did so as a joke, or that he did so because he thought the sign was a safety hazard because there might have been something dangerous behind it.

Johnson’s attorney, Lester Pines, found that last suggestion downright laughable.

“The idea it interferes with the security of the Capitol is really quite preposterous.”

Kooyenga also claimed that he was concerned about children seeing it. In the security footage, a group of people walk past the sign before Kooyenga removes it. None of them were children and none of them paid the sign any notice.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s office initially declined to release the security camera footage of Kooyenga taking the sign, but Walker, also a Republican, later changed his mind and released the video.

Pines filed a lawsuit on behalf of Johnson, and before the matter went to court, the State and the plaintiff settled for $30,000. That money was to come from the state’s general fund, meaning that Wisconsin taxpayers would have been on the hook for the settlement.

This week, however, Kooyenga announced that he would pay the money personally, according to the Journal Sentinel. He didn’t say if the money would come from his campaign, or from his personal bank accounts, but he did suggest that he’s getting “help” from others in paying for it.

“A settlement agreement has been reached and with the assistance of family and friends, I intend to fully reimburse the taxpayers. I look forward to moving past this issue and continuing to work for the people of Wisconsin.”