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I’m Suing The Kenosha County Sheriff, But It’s Not His Fault: Opinion

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Kevin Mathewson (Upper Left) County Executive Samantha Kerkman (Lower Left)
County Lawyers Joseph Cardamone and Jennifer Kopp

Last month I had to do something that I wish I never had to do. I filed a lawsuit against our new Sheriff, David W. Zoerner. Most people think that he is a good man and will be a great Sheriff. This suit was not based on anything he did, or did not do. This is unlike when I successfully sued Sheriff David G. Beth on August 20, 2020. In 2020, the Sheriff’s department staff made a terrible decision to not release information to me. I sued them, and I won. One of the county’s lawyers, Jennifer Kopp, told me something to the effect of “next time, you don’t have to sue us, just call me.” This would later prove to be an empty statement. I don’t know for sure, until the discovery portion of this lawsuit commences, but at this moment, I believe the fault lies solely with the county’s legal team and county administration. Let me tell you what happened:

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I began running several stories about the bad behavior of many of the elected leaders and bureaucrats in the Village of Salem Lakes. This past Tuesday the four incumbents that condoned this behavior, were all defeated handily by challengers. Among those, is local attorney Ted Kmiec, who received the fewest votes and was kicked out of office after a long career in local politics. Here is one article about Kmiec. Here is another. They both had to do with allegedly suspicious deaths. Kmiec and Michael Culat, another trustee in Salem Lakes, both blamed me for their losses in the primary. Culat filed a frivolous lawsuit against me for defamation. Kmiec, chose instead to call the police about me. This is the second time that someone who was on a ballot called 9-1-1 to complain about my factual reporting. The other time was Samuel Roochnik.

Local Attorney and Ex-Trustee Ted Kmiec
(Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

On March 8, 2023, Theodore B. Kmiec III (Ted Kmiec) summoned the Sheriff’s Department to his home in Salem Lakes. The 9-1-1 dispatcher typed into her computer “Caller wants to report he thinks a news reporter bugged his house and put a camera in his non-functional doorbell ringer thing on the wall” and categorized the call as “mental person,” signalling she thought Kmiec had mental illness. As tough and hard-hitting as I am, I’ve never been arrested in my 38 years on this planet. My first arrest will not be for multiple felonies for burglary and illegal wiretapping. I will write this quick disclaimer: It is possible that Kmiec was talking about a different news reporter, but the odds are against it. I also reached out to him and he ignored me. You can listen to the 9-1-1 call here:

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Ted Kmiec Call to 9-1-1 Dispatchers

If you notice, in this call to police, Kmiec clearly identifies himself by first and last name and his voice is completely audible, unmanipulated, and every word can be clearly distinguished. It seems, but is unknown for sure, that his phone number and address are redacted.

I was made aware that Kmiec was making theses outrageous accusations about me. I asked for the police report. No report was generated – only the dispatcher’s notes and location details. Since these bizarre accusations from a man who is potentially mentally ill were made, I respectfully disagreed with the deputies deciding not to author a police report. I then made a plea to Kenosha County Sheriff’s Captain Eric Klinkhammer. I asked him to have the deputies who responded to the call author a report. Klinkhammer, a leftover high-ranking member of KSD from the embattled David G. Beth’s administration, declined my request. He did so very rudely, as he is still butt-hurt from the last time I sued KSD successfully. The body-worn-camera footage was my only chance to see what this deranged man said about me. I requested the body-camera footage. The Sheriff’s Department told me they would get me the body-camera footage in an unredacted, or minorly redacted manor.

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Enter Attorneys Joseph (Joey) Cardamone (D) and Jennifer Kopp (D), two bleeding heart liberals that are left-over lawyers from former County Executive Jim Kreuser’s (D) administration . They intervened and told the Sheriff’s Department to redact almost everything. The below video is the most redacted video I have ever seen. This includes videos on Tik Tok, youtube, Facebook and Instagram. Not only did they redact the entire visual frame of the video, the also electronically distorted Ted Kmiec’s voice. Kind of like what they used to do on America’s Most Wanted for an undercover federal agent. If you listened to the 9-1-1 call, you would notice that his voice was unchanged there. Why was it in the video? Why redact everything and distort his voice? Why is the Sheriff’s Department and county lawyers trying to protect Kmiec?

The below video was released and requested under the exact same circumstances. Sam Roochnik called 9-1-1 to complain about my website. They only redacted his face and phone. I could hear his voice. Why was Kmiec treated better than Roochnik?

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After I was told that the videos would be heavily redacted, I sued Sheriff Zoerner. Under the law, he is the custodian of all of the Sheriff’s Department records. I had to name him in the suit. So, will the democratic duo of attorneys Joey Cardamone and Jenny Kopp defend this lawsuit that they created? They sure aren’t. With approval from County Executive Samantha Kerkman, they hired TWO high-priced attorneys from Waukesha, WI. I’m just a Private Investigator with no college degree. Kerkman and her democratic lawyers want to make sure that I can’t win this lawsuit. Here is what should make the taxpayers a little irked. There is no contract or engagement letter between the county and Municipal Law and Litigation, S.C. That means, the county will get a bill at the end of this case and they will probably pay between $600 and $700 per hour for the two attorneys, to go to battle with little ole Kevin Mathewson.

Remzy Bitar, Municipal Law and Litigation Group, S.C.

One of the Attorneys is Remzy Bitar. He’s a nasty, angry lawyer who takes an all or nothing approach. He has refused to negotiate with me. Once I saw how much Kerkman is willing to spend to defeat me, I reached out to Remzy multiple times to find common ground. No response. Instead, Bitar and another Attorney, Paul Alexy who together have 58 years of experience filed a barrage of legal briefs trying exploit loopholes and get the case dismissed on technicalities. They ignored my position completely. They filed just short of 30 pages of legal briefs. I know the public records laws very well, but theses guys are good attorneys. They are cherry picking case law from obscure cases that have no relevance to this case. Good news here is that Judge Schroeder is assigned to the case. He is a common-sense judge that won’t respond well to politically-motivated lawyering.

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Since I don’t want my tax-dollars to go to a nasty, high-priced lawyer, I offered to settle the case. I want the money that I put into the case, and settled for having Kmiec’s voice un-altered so that I can understand what the hell he is saying about me. Kerkman and her lefty lawyers quickly denied the offer. Now that they denied my offer, I will be awarded double fees if I win. They promised to spend as much of your money as it takes to win this small-time lawsuit. I’m not afraid of defeat. I’m 15 for 15 in court. I have to lose sometime, right? But I won’t be giving up. My time isn’t billed at $350 per hour. I enjoy holding the government accountable. I just don’t know why Kerkman and her lawyers want to keep Kmiec’s identity a secret. Are they friends? I don’t know. Something sure is suspicious here. After the lawsuit is over I will make sure to report how much the county spent to keep Mr. Kmiec’s voice altered.

County Executive Samantha Kerkman and Ted Kmiec

Although I still have hope for Kerkman to be a successful leader, many conservatives, like myself, are disappointed in her first year. She spent 22 years as a solid conservative republican, voting for act 10, right to work, and concealed carry, and now that she’s County Exec, her policies seem to have dashed towards the left. She’s been spending money like it grows on trees, like with this minor lawsuit. She has kept her predecessors’ entire far-left liberal administration. She’s never had a real job outside of politics and she relies on her elected position to pay her rent. Next week KCE will go into great detail about her first year in office.

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48 Responses

  1. Should start with that terrible joke of an HR Director. County is hemorrhaging employees, and she & her staff are working from home, and still no exit interviews— YEARS after the county board pretended to hold her accountable.

    Kerkman was only as “conservative” as Vos told her to be. Without RV pulling the strings, she’s lost.

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      1. Heck, Vos STILL literally has incompetent Kerkman on his popcorn business’ payroll. Talk about a swamp…

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  2. Let’s sort through this.

    First, if the sheriff is the custodian of those records, then ostensibly he could opt to release them and end the need for litigation. That may upset the corporation counsel’s office but, unless the sheriff’s isn’t the custodian, technically he could do it.

    Second, I disagree that there has been a shift in Sam’s policies. While the jury is still out on her performance as county executive — she’s new on the job — what is evident is how many people do not accurately understand the office she holds which is far different from when she was in the legislature

    For the record, I was not in favor of Sam leaving the legislature where she acquired significant seniority as a member of the majority party. That could be a huge benefit for Kenosha County. She held a leadership position and held clout. In other words, she could do more good for the county in Madison than here.

    Here’s the rub. The legislature is a policy making body. The county executive’s job is administrative with nowhere near the level of policy influence. Jim Kreuser was also in the legislature before he became county executive. He had a leg up in that before he went to Madison he worked for then county executive John Collins and understood the difference between the two jobs. The county executive has limited authority and the position is more administrative and ceremonial vs. policy making. Different branches of government. (When Barack Obama was elected president he was no longer a United States Senator. He went from the legislative to the executive branch of government.)

    Some counties don’t have a county executive. Either the county board chairperson or an appointed administrator coordinates things. And because many of the county entities are headed by elected officials the influence of the county executive, board chair or administrator is narrow.

    The district attorney, register of deeds, county clerk, clerk of circuit court, treasurer and sheriff are all elected in Kenosha County and are NOT answerable to the county executive. That leaves a bunch of largely ministerial county functions such as the highway department, health and social services, planning and zoning, etc. In many of these agencies there’s not a lot of room for discretion as federal and state laws and regulations call most of the shots. As for the rest, there isn’t a liberal or conservative way to plow snow or clean and wax the courthouse floors. That doesn’t mean a county executive is powerless but rather that the list of things she can effectively guide or control is very short. What the job really consists of is assisting the various county entities in carrying out their duties, including getting resources from Madison and Washington. That’s where Kreuser did a pretty good job likely because of his past experience and connections. Can Sam do the same?

    Yes — if she wants to and people stop pressuring her to try to do what county executives aren’t supposed to do. Those who want her to don’t quite get where the buoys are and maybe she doesn’t either. The truth is that she can’t do the job much different than Kreuser did or Collins did or Gil Dosmagen did or John Maurer did. Maybe there’s 10-15% “wiggle room” but the job of county executive is not the same as being a state legislator. The powers and duties are quite limited and they are different and thus the skill set needed is also different. Kreuser, Collins and Maurer all served in the legislature and made the transition. By expecting Sam to do things she can’t or shouldn’t the transition becomes more difficult.

    Having said all of this she’s new on the job and there is a learning curve. Kreuser and Collins both worked in county government before becoming county executive so theirs was shorter. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope ion that she’ll learn and grow into the position and also hope that others will likewise understand the possibilities and limitations of the position.

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          1. You can downvote me all you want. I reply almost as much as anyone on this site and I know some of my comments have been removed. It is what it is.

    1. There is an abundance of incompetence at the Director and Division Head level, and although Sam has the authority to change that— she has elected not to do so. As a matter of fact, she replaced DPW Director Ray Arbet with someone who was KNOWN for incompetence from the City’s DPW. HR Director has been in front of the Board many times, making an absolute fool of herself and her department— she’s still around. Health Director finally showed herself to the door. Sam has the authority to surround herself with strong, intelligent conservatives— she’s chosen to keep the ultra-left leadership in place.

      1. Really? I don’t see much, if any, difference between how conservatives and liberals plow snow, inspect restaurants, check to make sure gas pumps actually pump a gallon of gas when they say they did or do most of the other mostly mundane things county departments do. They are not policy factories and the job is done the same in red, blue and purple counties. The county should be hiring the best and the brightest and keep politics out of it and a smart leader surrounds themselves with the best talent, period. The county hasn’t always hired the best and brightest and that’s where Samantha should start looking.

  3. In the lengthy thought above the writer says most eloquently that Samantha Kerkman would have done more for Kenosha County by staying in Madison with her seniority there. While that is true, her salary in Madison was $55,141. a year. There is a small amount per diem for travel and lodging but that doesn’t add up to much.
    Her salary for County Executive is $117,838.
    I honestly think that Sam ran for the paycheck. And I don’t blame her one minute for it. Timing was on her side. Completely. Again as the writer said above there’s not much to running the county. And with a bump in salary like that she can pay off her house and then some by the end of the first four year term.
    Nothing wrong with serving the state for 20 plus years at minimum salary not getting very far ahead other than not having to dig a ditch for a living. And now here she is getting her reward of over $470K Over the next four years. And who’s to say if she won’t get reelected. $$$$
    So with a not real hard job and a generous salary she needs to have her feet held to the fire on this one. It’s a losing battle and she’s going to be spending our money and that’s just not who we voted for. She needs to rethink this and just tell the sheriff to released the video fully intact. It’s gonna come out eventually and it’s a shame she can’t see this already. I had higher hopes for Sam than this. This is not the hill she needs to Diane. (Looky there. Spellcheck got my hill to “die on”and change it to Diane. I’m going to leave it) Yes Sam’s lived in Salem all of her political career and has strong ties with the Salem community and government but again this is not the hill to die on.
    Let it go Sam. These people aren’t worth it.

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    1. Good observations but one correction: The county executive may ASK the sheriff to release unreacted records but she can’t order him to do so. The sheriff is an elected constitutional officer who is answerable directly to voters, not the county executive or county board, for that matter. The highway department director is another story as he does answer to the county executive. This illustrates how narrowly tailored the executive’s job is.

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      1. Here’s what the state constitution says about county executives: “The legislature may provide for the election at large once in every 4 years of a chief executive officer in any county with such powers of an administrative character as they may from time to time prescribe in accordance with this section.” Pretty clear that county execs are intended primarily to be administrators.

  4. “The county executive may ASK the sheriff to” ??
    As I understand this (maybe I’m wrong) it’s Sam who’s telling him not to.

    The sheriff should stand on his own two feet. He answers to us not her.

    Release the video intact un-redacted.

  5. Stop writing positive articles for Kerkman then. She hasn’t done shit since she has been in this new position and sucks at her job. No amount of spin is going to change that. She isn’t your friend.

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  6. Come on, Kenosha County – be transparent! By fighting the release of body cam footage, the county government is simply causing the public to distrust it. This is a total waste of taxpayer dollars. Let’s see if Zoerner and Kerkman are true conservatives or simply a bunch of RINO’s who have fallen into the swamp of big government.

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  7. Kevin, the sheriff is your buddy and you don’t want to go after him, but you need to. He can release the records, but he won’t. It falls on his shoulders. Many powerful peoples lie will try to manipulate you to keep you from going after them. The sheriff is one of those people. He can’t be trusted and this episode demonstrates that.

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  8. Unbelievable! I am sick and tired of coverups, of government corruption, and good ol boy garbage. Kerkman needs to do the job she was elected for and the County needs to release that video in full unredacted form. Kerkman used to be good, too bad she has sold her soul to the devil here. She was good when he has her smaller position but now, she is like any other wishy washy corrupt politician

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  9. If you are such a fan of “Sam” why don’t you put your name on your comment?

    I am not putting putting my name on this comment because I am going to point out how stuck up and rude she is, unless she is fawning to socially or politically climb. I am not sure where her superiority complex comes from; the i trelect was never there and the looks have long faded.

    She is a dim bulb who followed directions. Now she has nobody to pull her puppet strings.

    She was also a run around Sue on a good man.

    1. She is terribly unprofessional. She constantly looks like a slob – wrinkly clothes, jeans, dirty sneakers. There is a time and place for those outfits and official county meetings ain’t it! Nonstop photo ops for her…you can’t go 2 days without her posting photos of herself all over the county social media and she is submitting all these photos to the Kenosha Snooze… she acts like high school class president… absolute embarrassment.

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      1. Please share photos of her wearing clothes with wrinkles and dirty shoes. I’ve never seen her dressed sloppy.

        Just wondering if monitor what clothes men wear, or if you’re a sexist.

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        1. Look at Kenosha Facebook. Nothing sexist about it. She is unprofessional. Same would go for a man but Kreuser always wore a suit or polos. Literally, she posts pictures of herself in outfits that KC employees could never get away with. Rules don’t apply to her!!

    2. The mister to her mrs is no saint. I believe Kevin pointed out that he was running with T. Clair and living with him for awhile.

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    3. Have you met her parents? Marge worked at the bank in TL for years. Wow what a firecracker she is. They forced her out at the bank, some local back stabbing as usual. Her Ex is a TL boy too, can’t ya tell.

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  10. I’m not understanding why the video with the connection to a guy named “Joshua” is included with this article?????

  11. What’s up with Cardamone’s hair?
    He was a classic preppy nerd with clean cut hair.
    Now he looks like a homeless bum.
    External signs of internal mental strife.
    Does not inspire confidence.

  12. Kevin you need your own reality show, “Dog The Bounty Hunter” style.
    You’re an inspiration.
    I find it concerning how much radio traffic is lacking on scanners as law enforcement officer’s and firefighters advise each other to text, call, land-line or relay messages over their computers.
    It’s lucky the unhinged Democrat was recorded on a 911 call.
    Truth and accountability is being eroded like a beach during a tsunami. Kevin Mathewson is a lifeguard standing up against the waves of deception, corruption and politically motivated rollerballing.
    Stay strong Kevin.
    Keep every dime you are awarded when you win your lawsuits.
    War chests need coin.
    Bravo to you Kevin! ?????

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  13. Samantha Kerkman at the time of her being elected County Supervisor was the longest serving active member of the state legislature. Yet, she did not hold any positions of influence. What this means is that she is nothing but an empty pant suit! She is a buffoon and member of the corrupt uniparty!

  14. Great reporting as always!!! I am so glad that we have you and that you aren’t afraid to hold these crooks liable to those who pay their salaries!!

    Keep up the great work!!

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  15. If Kmiec is mentally I’ll and that’s why the video can’t be released, someone should almost take Corp Counsels admission of mental illness (of Kmiec) and report Kmiec to the office of lawyer regulation in Madison…
    If he’s mentally ill, he should not be allowed to practice law….

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  16. Apart from Kerkman, some takeaway impressions.

    The dispatcher was kind of rude which is pretty common for Joint Services. Kmiec might have been better off going to the sheriff’s department in person. And to expect that a road deputy will understand all of what he was trying to get across is a leap of faith, to say the least. As for the call itself, part of me understands and part thinks it may have been a waste of time.

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  17. As stated above much of the friction involving the county board and county executive these days may stem from a lack of understanding about county government.

    In Wisconsin, counties are essentially the local administrative arm of state government with very limited powers and, unlike cities and villages, no constitutional “home rule” authority. (Town governments also have less authority.) Counties administer the state’s health and welfare services, court system and highway maintenance programs, as well as many other state programs. County boards have some authority to decide the administrative structure of the county but with elected county clerks, treasurers, registers of deeds, sheriffs and district attorneys the oversight is far less than with cities and villages. Counties are the oldest form of government in Wisconsin, going back to 1818 when we were part of the Michigan territory.

    In large measure county government is not a policy making institution where political ideology comes into play. A Democrat does not register a deed, issue a marriage license, plow snow, inspect a restaurant or verify the accuracy of a gasoline pump any different than a Republican. Almost all social welfare programs are mandated or funded by the state and federal governments. In short, county government is almost entirely an administrative function and the county executive or administrator pretty much a glorified administrator with no authority over many of the county’s most important functions. He or she has zero to say about how the district attorney prosecutes a case or whom the sheriff should arrest.

    Virtually all of the parameters of county government are set by the legislature in Madison. As a ranking member of the majority party our county executive, when she was a member of the legislature, had a voice in establishing the policies and programs that counties administer on behalf of the state. As county executive that voice exists only within that framework. In other words, her job is to ensure that the county functions she’s responsible for administering are carried out properly. And, unlike city councils and village boards, the county board has only the limited authority granted by the legislature.

    That’s not to say that this work, while narrow, isn’t important. Unlike other states, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not plow highways. The state pays counties to do that and anyone who has ever waited for the plow or salt truck during a winter storm understands the importance. We certainly wouldn’t want to eat in a filthy restaurant or be shortchanged at the gas pump. And I’m sure we enjoy our county parks and the Biergarten at Pets.

    The real job — and responsibility — of the county executive and county board is to secure the resources necessary for the various county entities to perform their work on our behalf. Like her predecessor the county executive has many years of legislative experience and hopefully she will tap that to the benefit of Kenosha County. Hopefully she will hire competent department heads for those entities over which she has authority and empower them and county employees to do their jobs well.

  18. You are wrong The sheriff is absolutely the custodian of the records. He could release unredacted records if he so chooses. Why the pass.

    He may have a legal or ethical reason not to release the record and maintains that option. He cannot be ordered to do anything by the county executive or corp. counsel although he should consider their advise.

    Why are you so condescending. You could do a job without the silly name calling.

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