In defense of Chris Liebenthal, aka Capper

Christ Liebenthal is a prolific blogger with a hard left slant. He spends a lot of time taking aim at Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Liebenthal is a county employee.

A couple of weeks ago, the cheddarsphere was melting over the news Liebenthal was being investigated by the Milwaukee District DA. Orville Seymer of CRG had filed a complaint. It was flying around that Liebenthal’s computer had been confiscated.

Also flying around was a list of dates offered by CRG and how those dates were furlough days and holidays. All defined in a spreadsheet, almost all the dates were covered.

Almost.

It could be that Liebenthal made the occasional post from a county facility. Is that the kiss of death? I doubt it. I also give Liebenthal the benefit of the doubt for another reason: No one plays the game that hard – and Capper plays very hard – and not know and heed the rules. I’ve seen the guy in action. He’s no idiot.

I have a question, did Liebenthal sign an internet use agreement with his employer? Most say the computer can be used at break time for personal activity as long as it’s lawful. (And if there’s no agreement, what kind of executive would let something like an internet use policy slip?)

Another point I’d like to make: although bloggers abound damning Liebenthal for “campaigning with the taxpayers’ resources”, I’d argue there’s really no campaign yet. The filing deadline for candidates is still a week away.

What’s really at play is a tit-for-tat war between the Walker lovers and Walker haters. Walker employee Darlene Wink took a dive mid-May for Walker. The Walker lovers are looking to Liebenthal for payback.

How close is Walker to all this? Oh, who knows. I did see Walker’s campaign spokesperson Jill Bader had something to say on her Twitter feed – click to enlarge:

And no, the “MSM” hasn’t reported this one yet. Maybe it’s because there’s no story.

Let me make it clear that I don’t often agree with what Chris Liebenthal has to say on any of the websites he manages. I will, however, defend to the death his right to say it.

Blog on!

Comments

  1. That’s about as thorough and fair coverage as I’ve seen. I agree that Chris is way too smart to have done this, but he may have slipped up some time–there’s a lot of posts under the bridge.

    But until something comes out of the investigation, I’ll assume he’s innocent.

  2. Randy in Richmond says:

    If he works for the county how is a Milwaukee (which I assume is the city) DA investigating ? Just curious. And remember how intelligent and smart we thought Gen. McChrystal was.

  3. BrkfldDad says:

    The DA is actually a Milwaukee County function.

  4. Randy in Richmond says:

    BrkfldDad
    I learned something. Didn’t know there is a Milwaukee County.
    Thanks

  5. John Foust says:

    In the course of another story I’ve followed, I’ve read the Milwaukee County Use of Technologies Policy. It begins with a boldface advisory that warns that failure to follow the policy may result in “progressive steps of discipline, which may include discharge” as well as civil or criminal prosecution. There’s a section that mentions “discussion groups” that comes pretty close to what happens on a blog, and it only warns that “County policies shall not be intentionally misrepresented”. There is a prohibition on “creating or posting external home pages or web sites without authority.” It also seems to allow some personal activities on the Internet if you have some sort of prior approval as long as it doesn’t “embarass the County.” It says “Users may be permitted, at management’s discretion and with prior approval, to use the County’s technologies for personal activities.”

    As to whether “almost” applies, wouldn’t anyone need to attempt to ask Capper’s employers whether he was at work at those moments? CRG didn’t do it, as they wanted as much mud as possible for their political attack. A decent reporter would’ve done it. An honest person would’ve done it, before complaining to a DA.

    It would also seem to me that there are several other issues that could be discussed before we judge Capper to be breaking the rules. One, we don’t know the rules in his office. Did he have explicit prior approval to do a little blogging, as long as it didn’t interfere with his job? Or is their an atmosphere in his office, tacitly approved by management, to allow some personal surfing time by employees? Doesn’t this smell more like a boss-to-employee personnel issue, and not something for the DA to be investigating? Has there been any actual independent statement from the DA about the facts, or are you relying on unconfirmed CRG press releases? Is there a free-speech angle? Does it matter if he’s engaged in political discussions or using Word to write a letter to Mom? If anyone thinks Capper should be investigated, then where was the call to investigate all the other employers in Walker’s office, after Wink resigned after admitting wrongdoing? In general, just how much time are people stealing from their employers with surreptitious Internet use?

  6. Foust, you make a cogent argument here. Why do you have to be such a jerk? (This is a sincere question.)

  7. John Foust says:

    Down South, I hear you can insult anyone to almost any degree and have it excused if you end the sentence with “and Bless His Heart.”

    I’m always cogent and thought-provoking, and most often based on facts. Why this fails to spur useful conversation at many blogs, I don’t understand. If I was at BadgerBlogger, I could insult someone’s wife and it would be considered great wit.

  8. Bless your heart. 😉

    Really, though, I enjoy the discussion, but for goodness sakes, keep it clean, relevant, and try not to take anyone out in the process. That last act is completely and totally reserved for the webmistress.

  9. John Foust says:

    Feel free to comment on any of the cogent questions I ask in my last paragraph.

  10. Well let’s see. A bunch of those questions could only be answered if I worked with Capper. As to whether or not it’s a matter for the DA, I do believe, and I’ve said this elsewhere, that once a documented and signed complaint comes in, the DA is obligated to follow up.

    Has there been any actual independent statement from the DA about the facts, or are you relying on unconfirmed CRG press releases?

    There has been no mention from the DA’s office. I’m relying on the CRG website for the complaint and blog banter as to the complaint and Capper’s work computer disappearing. I visitied with Chris a bit and he never said no to either point.

    Is there a free-speech angle?

    Probably, but this national administration is making mincemeat of free speech, so I wouldn’t count on it working for you.

    Does it matter if he’s engaged in political discussions or using Word to write a letter to Mom?

    As I said, if this were the 14th of July, the political angle might matter, but I do think the fact there is no actual campaign season started counts here.

    If anyone thinks Capper should be investigated, then where was the call to investigate all the other employers in Walker’s office, after Wink resigned after admitting wrongdoing?

    I didn’t follow that very closely, but I think since Wink went under the bus, a resolution was considered made.

    Are you a resident of Milwaukee County? I bet if you document and sign a complaint, the DA would follow up on that one if it’d make you feel better.

    In general, just how much time are people stealing from their employers with surreptitious Internet use?

    That, according to my traffic, has to be hours and hours a day. Do you know my work-time traffic is about triple that of other hours? Hits are always double for weekdays than weekends. I know there have been studies, but I’d venture a guess that the internet (you know, that Al Gore invented 😉 ) has done more to decrease American productivity than even all the legal drug use of the late 1800’s. Some consider the internet a vortex to hell, and although I’m a heavy user, I have to wonder a bit on that one myself.

    Hey. You asked! And it looks like it’s all over anyway. CRG asserted themselves, but they appear to have landed on their backside. (No links because I want to get to the source on that one.)

  11. Randy in Richmond says:

    Knowing nothing of this specific story but the bits and pieces I have read, my human nature and slight cynicism tells me it is most likely Darlene Wink who either initiated, or caused to be initiated, the complaint to the D.A. And ‘when’ a political campaign precisely begins would be an interesting debate for legal purposes.
    Time for some grits.