Moderator’s note: This won’t be the first time a satirist co-opted official letterhead to make a statement (see Joey Skaggs’ Brookyln Bridge Lottery Hoax, done in 1992), but it may be the last!!
Dane County DA considers charges against cartoonist who sent fake news
by Sandy Cullen
Wisconsin State Journal
March 14, 2012
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Wednesday his office is considering whether to file a felony charge against a political cartoonist who reproduced the letterhead of state Rep. Steve Nass on a phony press release sent to a Madison newspaper.
Ozanne said Capitol Police have asked his office to determine whether Mike Konopacki of Madison should be charged with violating a state law that makes it a felony for someone who is not a public officer or public employee to act in an official capacity or to exercise any function of a public office.
The Class I felony is punishable by up to 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Ozanne said his office has the discretion to file a different felony or misdemeanor charge, or to not prosecute.
Konopacki, 60, said Wednesday he believes his parody — which makes fun of Nass, a Republican from Whitewater, for his role in canceling an art exhibit related to last year’s protests at the state Capitol — is protected political speech.
He said he sent the fake news release to the editorial page editor at The Capital Times, which posted an erroneous story on the paper’s website and on Capital Newspapers’ website, madison.com, on Feb. 25. It was removed a short while later after the paper learned the source document was a fabrication.
Konopacki, who specializes in labor issues, has drawn editorial cartoons for The Capital Times for many years on a freelance basis, the paper said in an online statement.