By: Brian Sikma
John Spiegelhoff is a union boss with AFSCME Council 40 in northern Wisconsin. Spiegelhoff regularly appears in the news commenting about various issues that impact union members in the area represented by his union. Since the passage of collective bargaining reform in 2011, he has publicly championed the recall of State Senator Pam Galloway, a first-term Republican lawmaker from Wausau. In the spring of 2011 he was involved in a controversy when he filed a grievance with the Wausau School District after an 86 year-old man volunteered to be a crossing guard. The man’s volunteerism undercut the union’s power and influence, according to Spiegelhoff.
E-mails sent to Media Trackers from a grassroots activist reveal Spiegelhoff regularly harassing Pam Galloway for various positions that she has adopted. In dozens of e-mails sent between May 2011 and February 2012, Spiegelhoff threatens, harasses, and attempts to intimidate Galloway while berating her for votes that she cast in the state Senate. An e-mail sent on August 2011 has Spiegelhoff calling Galloway a “pig” after she was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio.
Calling her service in the Senate “a reign of terror” and characterizing her work as “immoral,” Speigelhoff cast himself as a leader of the recall effort declaring “I am actively working against you.” Numerous e-mails contained threatening subject lines such as “we are coming for you,” and “here we come.” Another e-mail twice contained the threat, “stay home, Pam,” something that could be interpreted as chauvinistic.
In August and September of 2011, weeks before the recall petition period could begin for an attempted Galloway recall, Spiegelhoff adopted the line that Galloway should resign instead of face a recall attempt. “I wish elections were right now so you could be thrown out of office. Do the middle class a favor-resign,” one message concluded. “You overreached and you will pay the political price for it,” another intimidating message reads. The harassment concluded with Spiegelhoff demanding that Galloway “[r]epent and beg forgiveness. . . .”
Before entering politics in 2010, Galloway was a surgeon specializing in breast cancer care. Spiegelhoff implied in several e-mails that Galloway didn’t really care about women and was doing a disgrace to her medical profession by being a Republican. “[Y]ou are being used,” he ranted in mid-February of this year. “You sold your soul and disgraced the medical community,” he blasted after Galloway cast a vote he disagreed with.
Certainly a constituent should be free to express his opinions to his elected officials, but threatening and harassing statements like this do cross a line of decency. Fascinatingly, Spiegelhoff does not live in Galloway’s district even though he signed a petition to recall her from office. When someone found Spiegelhoff’s signature on the Galloway petition and recalled that he had publicly claimed that he did not live in her district (something verified by a check of his address), they wrote a letter to the editor holding him to account. His response was that there were three petitions in front of him when he signed. He quickly signed the first two and didn’t pay close attention to any of them. Oddly, though, for someone as politically engaged as he is, he should have known that there was no third recall effort for him to take part in. His state senator is Jim Holperin, a Democrat who is not facing a recall.
As a digital stalker threatening a female lawmaker, Spiegelhoff has disgraced any cause that he was hoping to advance. Between the hypocrisy of claiming to stand for the middle class while collecting $111,525 a year in compensation from his union, to attacking Galloway for her work with women suffering from breast cancer, he has engaged in a disturbing attack that merits an apology. He needs to apologize to Senator Galloway, he needs to apologize to women who have suffered from breast cancer, and he needs to apologize to women in general. If Spiegelhoff wants to regard women as pawns for him to berate in his political work, he certainly is entitled to that view, but it should be exposed as the sick agenda that it is.