MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A process server has accused a legislative aide of pushing him down and calling him names when he tried to serve a Republican state senator with a lawsuit.
The Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit against Sen. Leah Vukmir in June seeking documents the center believes Vukmir obtained during an American Legislative Exchange Council conference in May, The Wisconsin State Journal reported in Thursday’s editions.
According to affidavits attached to the lawsuit, Bruce Lowery tried to serve Vukmir on Sept. 3 in her Capitol office. Lowery said Vukmir aide Jason Rostan chased him, pushed him down outside the Capitol and called him vulgar names as he tried to force the papers back in Lowery’s pockets.
Lowery’s business partner and wife, Chris Lowery, returned to Vukmir’s office the next day and tried to serve Rostan, who held his hands behind his back and refused to accept the papers. She finally touched them to his hands to make the service legal and left them on a desk.
“I’m a Republican, and I was disgusted with their behavior,” Chris Lowery told the State Journal.
Rostan told the newspaper the state Department of Justice told Vukmir’s staff not to accept service in the case.
DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday that the agency doesn’t comment on what advice it may or may not give to clients. However, she said generally DOJ attorneys believe legislators should not accept service of a lawsuit because they’re immune from civil lawsuits when the Legislature is in session.
Most attorneys and law firms who regularly sue the state know the department is willing to accept service so servers don’t have to chase lawmakers down at the Capitol, Brueck added.
Brendan Fischer, general counsel for the Center for Media and Democracy, said in an interview with the AP that DOJ’s position would make it impossible for anyone to force legislators to follow Wisconsin’s open meetings law. He also said Vukmir’s aide did the chasing, not the process server.
Rostan, 38, acknowledged to the State Journal that he followed Lowery and tried to force him to take the court papers back. He said Lowery tripped and fell while refusing to take the papers.
“Looking back on it all, I should have just let it go,” he told the newspaper.