Archive for Friday, January 20, 2006

Charges not likely in political postcard

Investigation fails to determine sender of item targeting Schauner

January 20, 2006


U.S. Postal Service investigators now believe it unlikely any charges will be filed against the mailer of a spurious postcard that tried to link City Commissioner David Schauner to domestic abuse.

Donald Obritsch, a postal inspector in the Kansas City field office, said a multimonth investigation failed to definitively link an individual to the mailing, which occurred just days before the April City Commission election.

"The way we have left it is that if someone has additional information, we're all ears," Obritsch said. "We want to hear about it."

Obritsch said investigators determined the mailer violated postal regulations by not paying approximately $640 in applicable fees. The Postal Service's investigation did not look into the content of the postcard's message.

The postal service has said any legal matters related to whether the allegations defamed Schauner were outside its jurisdiction and most likely would have to be handled through a civil lawsuit.

Schauner, who has vigorously denied the allegations, said Thursday he likely wouldn't pursue the matter further.

"I'm disappointed that they haven't been able to pin the tail on the donkey, so to speak," said Schauner, who narrowly won re-election. "But I'm sure that they have tried."

No one ever took responsibility for the postcard, but a Lawrence printer, shortly after the mailing, said Mike Capra - an area plumber and frequent Schauner critic - unsuccessfully sought to have postcards with similar language printed at her shop. Capra has acknowledged that he was behind a different postcard that criticized Schauner's commitment to children. That postcard did not violate postal rules.

Obritsch said investigators followed several leads but weren't able to create a strong enough link to any individual that would withstand judicial scrutiny.

"My understanding is that there were a couple of suspects," Obritsch said. "There was quite a bit of suspicion."

Obritsch said that people with additional information about the case should contact their local postmaster.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

"One might find some intresting info in there about some current folks in high places."

Do you know this for a fact, or are you just doing some more of the infamous Marion/Vito baseless innuendo?

"It is quite entertaining as well. Raven Bokks Carried it."

As bokks go, it is quite entertaining.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Actually, I happen to know that it says absolutely nothing about anybody on the city commission. But you and Marion and Vito don't need no stinking facts, because you just make them up as you feel the need.

Baille 12 years, 5 months ago

I have know Mike Capra for 20 years. Bozo ain't wrong. Capra gave me the shaft on a deal years ago, and I washed my hands of him then. Sounds to me that in this case he lied, cheated, and violated election laws - just like he did with the subsequent postcard mailing. Too bad he walks on this one. Hopefully, they will nail him to the wall for the other.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

badger 12 years, 5 months ago


I took a spelling out of one of your other posts and put it in the wrong line.

You're actually looking for 'hypocrisy.'

laughs at self very hard

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

By the way, the term for what I did is "Cardoza's Caveat."

"When correcting the spellings of others on the Internet, your own likelihood of making a spelling or typographical error is exponentially increased according to the commonality of misspellings associated with that word."

scurries off to eat popcorn - germanely

Linda Endicott 12 years, 5 months ago

I'm trying to get this straight...according to the article, the main reason these postcards going through the mail was wrong was because the person failed to pay $640 in fees to the post office? If they had paid the money, would it be legal?

If the person had typed this stuff up on paper, and put it in separate envelopes and mailed it out, would it have been legal? Considering that the post office isn't supposed to open and read your mail, of course.

Exactly what is illegal about mailing your opinions to other people? Is it any more illegal than people posting their opinions on a public board like this? I'm just trying to understand the problem here.

And would it really be that difficult to find out this kind of information about someone? If it's something that's gone through court, aren't court records open to the public?

kujeeper 12 years, 5 months ago

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badger 12 years, 5 months ago

crazyks -

The substance of the allegations, as stated in the article, is outside the jurisdiction of the post office. It wasn't so much what he said as it was that he used the post office to say it and didn't follow their rules.

Certain rules and regulations govern how election-related mail is sent through the postal system. There are fees associated with postcards, mass mailings, and political mailings, set in place by the federal government.

If he had typed them up and sent them in envelopes, he would still have had to pay postage, and any applicable fees related to political mass mailings.

Now, as to whether the postcards got more attention because of what they said? That I'll imagine is probably true. If he'd sent out postcards that were less inflammatory, less of a tizzy would have sprung up, I'd imagine, with fewer people looking to find ways to figure out (a) who did it, and (b) if they broke any rules doing it.

Of course, some people are always going to be adamant about election rules and laws. Here in Texas, I think we're down eight or ten candidates for various elections, one of them an incumbent, because they failed to fill out and file their election petitions correctly and those petitions were challenged. It's all been little things, like typos or whether the pages were stapled or clipped together, but it's shaken up this year's elections pretty handily.

Baille 12 years, 5 months ago

"Let me get this straight Baille. You are pissed about a 'deal' from years ago. Which leads to "It sounds to me that in this case he lied, cheated, and violated election laws".

It 'sounds' to you? It 'sounds' to me that you are holding a grudge."

Then get it straight. The deal wasn't that big. He just didn't do something he said he was going to do. I don't hold a grudge against him. I just won't do business with him. It is also true that I don't like him personally. Like I said, I have known his for a long time and those are my feelings. My biases are outed.

My views are thus: the Kansas election commission investigated the subsequent postcard mailing and found out that those cards was not sent out by any organization of teachers, but by Mike Capra himself. That mailing violated election laws and it contained factually incorrect statements. It would seem reasonable to believe that an investigation done with due diligence could tie Capra into the mailing in question. I wonder how vigorously the USPS looked into it, since the LJWorld was able to find a copy store owner who said Capra came in prior to the mailing looking to get suspciously similar postcards printed. At least that person had the integrity not to play into Capra's stab at political machinations.

Oh and Marion, what about me?

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

jannie opined ovinely:

"Again if there was any valid recourse I think it would have come into play by now and there is nothing wrong with sending cards out into the community. In fact political promises are gererally filled with half truths, you know those politians always making promises that won't be kept."

You have little to no experience with libel or politics, I see.

Very few people who commit libel ever see the inside of a courtroom about it, because not only does the victim of it have to prove that the statements were false, he often ends up having to prove that the person who libeled him didn't believe he was telling the truth in good faith - which is near impossible to prove unless you have an impartial third party who can say, "Yeah, hey, he told me he knew it wasn't true but he was going to print it anyway," or some evidence that proves that the person had information about the truth and chose to disregard it. This is in spite of the fact that usually, with libel, the burden of proof is just to show that the statements weren't true. Gotta love the delightful unpredictability of the American Judicial System, eh? It's loaded with wacky fun!

Why should a public official give a nutjob like Capra a day in court to make all sorts ridiculous statements a part of the court record? Then, Capra can reference those statements later and say that they are 'suppressed court documents' about drugs, crime, whatever. He would just push it till he got found in contempt, then claim the corrupt judge silenced him.

There's a great deal wrong with sending out postcards to the public about a public official - IF THEY'RE LYING!

And as to your last statement? The fact that politicians don't keep their promises is acceptable grounds for spreading libel about them?

Your logic is as sound as your grammar, and just about as easy to stomach.

dex 12 years, 5 months ago

IS VITO HOT OR NOT? is that what the fuss is about?

it's a sad day in america when people actually have to argue about whether it's wrong to mail postcards printed with opinions. each and every one of us is equiped with a brain that helps us sort truth from fiction. i don't typically file anonymous postcards in my mailbox in the truth file anyway so good for vito for taking the time to write.

but is it illegal? given the state of the debate on this forum then probably. if not now then soon. too bad.

princess 12 years, 5 months ago

I swear, I really was gonna stay out of this today. I have a cold and the medicine is throwing me off. However, this just really struck me.

jannie said..."As far as truth or fiction the average citizen is not held under a microscope but out wonderful public officials are because they present themselves to be better."

What?... "because they present themselves to be better."

How? How do they do this? By running for office? By actually getting off their arse and giving a damn? This statement is pure lunacy. If this logic prevailed, why would anyone run for public office anywhere, ever?

This statement sticks out amidst all of the other jumbled musings posted by jannie today because it single handedly voids all of her rhetoric. It divulges plainly her mind set. She will not be convinced of wrong doing in this instance because she fails to see anything morally wrong with saying or printing information about a public figure regardless of truth.

dex 12 years, 5 months ago

it's a free country. why is it morally wrong to print an opinion about a public figure? opinions don't hurt anybody.

dex 12 years, 5 months ago

in fact, i think it's morally wrong to prevent people from printing and distributing their opinions. especially their opinions of elected officials. it's better to be safe than sorry in this matter. ask the citizens of russia if you need clarification.

princess 12 years, 5 months ago

dex: If it were presented as an "opinion" rather than being presented as fact as it were, I would have less of a problem with it.

And you are naive to think that this is still a "free country"

dex 12 years, 5 months ago

who decides whether a tidbit of text on a postcard is a "fact" or an "opinion"? not even the systematic method of testing hypotheses against data and experiments, i.e. science, is capable of determining facts, only not facts. in essence, everything you read is an opinion of some sort, partial truth is known only to those directly involved.

now please tell me why posting some opinions but not others is morally wrong? are you not capable of juding for yourself what is more likely fact and what is more likely fiction?

princess 12 years, 5 months ago


You have raised a lovely strawman.

This is what I said: "She will not be convinced of wrong doing in this instance because she fails to see anything morally wrong with saying or printing information about a public figure regardless of truth."

And clearly I am correct. The only thing that I have concluded further is that you will neither be convinced.

Continuing this with you is futile and so I bid you good day.

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. ~Plato

Baille 12 years, 5 months ago

You asked first. I just left out the "uh."

"Uh, what about Baille?



What do you want to know, Marion?

Linda Endicott 12 years, 5 months ago

If telling lies or half-truths or padding facts or making your opinions about public officials is illegal, then all the national and local ads I've seen on TV every election year for all candidates must be illegal.

One person says something about the other...the other denies it, and says something nasty about the first happens all the time, whether they have proof to back up their claims or not.

I remember when political ads used to focus on what the particular person planned to do if they got in office, instead of throwing cheap shots and making accusations.

I prefer the latter. You knew they were either incredibly naive about what they thought they could accomplish, or making outright lies...but hey, it was a lot less visicous.

Baille 12 years, 5 months ago

"Well, Baille, in an earlier post you asked

"Posted by Baille (anonymous) on January 20, 2006 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh and Marion, what about me?"

I reply:

So....what about you?



Well, Marion, you need to start at the beginning of the thread. Your reply was to my response to your original query.

wonderhorse 12 years, 5 months ago

Are you two going to do the "Who's on first?" routine next?

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

dex said:

"now please tell me why posting some opinions but not others is morally wrong? are you not capable of juding for yourself what is more likely fact and what is more likely fiction?"

Here's the thing. If it were an opinion, it would be free speech. If it were, "Hey, I think Schauner beats his wife," then it would be reprehensible but not libelous. Opinions are certainly allowed.

However, the postcard in question made allegations of illegal acts. Here is what LJW reported about them:

"The postcard came in voters' mailboxes six days before Tuesday's general election. The message on the postcard was cryptic. It included a picture of Schauner and a Google logo, a popular Internet search engine. The text said, "I thought I'd let you know what I found on the web about this guy."

It then included the phrase "... David M. Schauner, Kansas National Education Association, of Topeka, ... for battery of his first wife and had been divorced by his second wife. ..."

A Google search of Schauner's name with the phrase "battery" turns up a document summarizing a case in which Schauner was involved as an attorney for his employer, KNEA. The case mentions battery, divorces and a second wife, but Schauner's only involvement in the case was as an attorney.

The postcard was signed by a Becky Kopeland. A search of phone records and voter registration records in Douglas County found no one by that name. The return address on the postcard was Schauner's home address."

Court records from the time give lie to this statement, stating that the divorce itself was settled amicably:

"The Journal-World has discovered no evidence that supports the allegations. Court documents from Pawnee County showed that the couple's divorce was settled amicably. When contacted by the Journal-World, Schauner's first wife declined comment about the marriage."

The postcards, sent by someone who either doesn't exist or just doesn't vote, allege not just an opinion, but that Schauner was guilty of criminal activities, i.e. domestic abuse.

That's where libel comes into it. It is a fraudulent, unsubstantiated statement presented as fact which presents substantial possibility of harm to the person at whom it is directed. It was intended, by its timing and content, to sway voters against a candidate who had little time to rebut or challenge its accusations.

mefirst 12 years, 5 months ago

I was at a protest a few years back, in front of Brothers on Mass. Capra came out, staggering drunk and started harrassing protestors. He was so incredibly pathetic. It was quite obvious that this guy a real scumbag. His behavior was so embarrassing, even to the "counter" protestors, or Bush supporters with whom he had aligned himself.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 5 months ago

That puts a whole new light on it for me, badger...I didn't know all of that. I have never looked up the laws concerning elections, and I'll bet most people never have.

Would it still be illegal to send postcards stating an opinion, saying "I believe" or "I think"...? Newspapers do that all the time, and they rarely lose a libel case. It has happened, but not very often. Carol Burnett's case against The National Enquirer is one example.

Just in case anybody asks, libel is written...slander is spoken.

badger 12 years, 5 months ago


It's not based in election law, I don't think. I think it's just based in the libel laws. The postcard presented, as fact, fraudulent information intended to and capable of doing material harm to someone else. It doesn't matter if it was an election or not.

I remember the Carol Burnett case, and I think she was gutsy for fighting it. Mostly, unless they're really far out or damaging, no one challenges them because the defendants can pretty much use the courtroom as a forum to dig up every tawdry unconfirmed and unprintable detail they've ever suspected, and force you to air any personal business they can convince a judge is relevant.

I don't blame Schauner for not fighting it in court, because it would mean dragging himself and his ex-wife back through a reenactment of a thirty-year-old enactment of a failed marriage, with whatever mistakes and unhappiness they might have managed to put behind them out for public viewing. I wouldn't put the details of my divorce on the front page of the paper, either.

As for the 'I think' question, I imagine that one would have to tread carefully. So long as you're clearly printing opinions, or the opinions of others, and you're laying out clearly that these are people's opinions (I think that's why the opinion articles go on a separate, clearly marked page), then I imagine it shouldn't be libel as long as you're reporting accurately what people said, and you have reason to believe that they're speaking the truth and in a position to have accurate information. If Joe Blow on the street tells you that George Bush is snorting coke in the White House, you can't use him as a 'confidential source' and report it as fact, but if Karl Rove said the same thing, you could, I think. You can write an article giving Joe Blow as an example of Bush's falling approval rating, but not of his alleged drug use.

badger 12 years, 5 months ago

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meggers 12 years, 5 months ago

Juicy stuff, omb. Thanks for mentioning it. I somehow missed this in my presidential history studies. I'll definitely have to locate a copy of 'The President's Daughter'- it should prove to be a provocative read.

A couple of links for the non-googlers:

Grundoon Luna 12 years, 5 months ago

Jannie, you have no idea what a true bag of crap Vito is. If you only knew . . .

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