Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Clerk candidate Kozuszek says smear ad violated protective order

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Clerk candidate and Democratic Director of the County Voters Registration Office Kathy Kozuszek has filed a petition of contempt with Porter County Superior Courts alleging a political mailer is a violation of a protective order she has against its creator, Scott Smith.

Smith, on the other hand, contests that he is the victim of bullying by Kozuszek and others in the Porter County Democrat Party.

According to the petition filed May 8, Scott Smith mailed out “hundreds of defamatory postcards to voters in Porter County, disparaging Kathryn Kozuszek and thereby attempting to make unlawful indirect contact with (Kozuszek).”

Superior Court Judge William Alexa set a hearing for the petition at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 27.

Court documents show that in February Alexa granted a protection order against Smith after Kozuszek complained of recieving harassing phone calls from him. Under Alexa’s order, Smith is prohibited from having any direct or indirect communication with Kozuszek.

Submitted with the petition is a photocopy of the postcard mailed to Democrat voters depicting a drawn image of a man reaching towards a woman’s buttocks with the phrasing: “Don’t Get Rubbed The Wrong Way. Re-Elect Karen Martin For Clerk.” The postcard purports Kozuszek encouraged a county employee to “sexually batter a young man.”

Smith is the listed chairman for the so-called “Northwest Indiana Political Action Committee” whose website also featured an image of the postcard.

Smith wrote on his postcards that Kozuszek “viciously groped” him and that the mailer had not been authorized by County Clerk Karen Martin. Kozuszek is challenging Martin in November’s general elections.

Kozuzek told the Chesterton Tribune Smith’s accusations are untrue while Smith is adamant he was the victim of sexual battery and that Kozuszek is “viciously liable.”

Kozuzsek says she met with Smith at a public restaurant in May 2011 when he was seeking to run against incumbent Jon Costas in the Valparaiso mayoral race that year and that he asked for Porter County Democrats’ “blessing” to run. Kozuszek is the vice-chair for the party.

Smith couldn’t run in the race, Koszuszek told him, because he was living in Lowell at the time.

In Smith’s version of the story, a Porter County government employee showed up at the restaurant on behalf of Kozuszek, dumped hot coffee on his lap and started “groping” him with a towel.

Kozuszek asks that, given that the alleged incident happened in a public setting, “Wouldn’t somebody at the restaurant have said something if that had happened?” She said no employee was ever present during the meeting.

“I would be willing to say it under a lie-detector test,” Kozuszek said.

Kozuszek said Smith made “repeated calls of harassment” to her office after she blocked him from her Facebook page and notified the sheriff’s police, which led to the protective order.

Smith said the order was never served to him and it might have been because he was out-of-state at the time it was filed. He said he does not believe he is a threat to Kozuszek’s safety and that the word harassment which she uses does not apply to an activity allowed under state law. Smith also questions the ethics of Alexa presiding over the hearing since he is a Democrat and a friend to Kozuszek.

Kozuszek said political affiliation is not grounds for judges to recuse themselves and she believes there is no conflict of interest.

The strife between Kozuszek and Smith came to light publically last week after Porter County Republican Party Chair Michael Simpson issued a press release disavowing any Republican Party ties to the postcard. Simpson called Smith’s mailers “reprehensible” and an example of “gutter politics.” Smith has admitted them to be “smear ads.”

Kozuszek said she was not told beforehand about the GOP release and, given the volatile situation, wished to keep the protective order against Smith private.

Kozuszek said does not know how many postcards Smith sent out and how he got a list of addresses seeing as how it didn’t come from her office or the state Democrat office. She believes hundreds were mailed.

Smith said he sent about 50 postcards and claims he got the addresses from campaign finance reports.

 

Posted 5/16/2014