Meet David VanderLeest (pictured, right).
If you don’t know who David VanderLeest is, he’s the man behind the effort to recall Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen, one of the “Wisconsin 14,” the 14 Democratic State Senators who stood against Republican Gov. Scott Walker and left Wisconsin in an attempt to stop (or at least slow down) Walker’s efforts to seriously weaken Wisconsin’s public employee unions and remove many of the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
You may also remember VanderLeest for his group’s use of paid canvassers, including a violent convicted felon from Colorado who committed a new crime while working to help recall Sen. Hansen here in Wisconsin.
In addition to being the “point man” behind the effort to recall Sen. Hansen, VanderLeest has also indicated he’ll be a candidate for the seat currently held by Sen. Hansen, and shortly after VanderLeest’s intentions to run for the became known, Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlighted VanderLeest’s rather, uh, “interesting” record of court activity, including a two 2006 convictions in Brown County. VanderLeest’s first conviction came in a case in which VanderLeest was originally charged with a felony (Intimidate Witness/Use or Attempt Force) and three misdemeanors (Battery, Disorderly Conduct, and Bail Jumping-Misdemeanor), only to have the case plead down to one charge of Disorderly Conduct. The victim in that case was Rachel VanderLeest, David VanderLeest’s now ex-wife. David VanderLeest was also convicted in 2006 of Disorderly Conduct in a second case involving Rachel VanderLeest, leaving me to wonder whether both incidents were domestic violence situations.
In 2009 David VanderLeest was back in Brown County circuit court, facing charges of Disorderly Conduct, Battery, and Bail Jumping-Misdemeanor in two separate cases, and in each case Rachel VanderLeest was once again listed as the victim. As recently as April 2011 VanderLeest was the subject of a child abuse restraining order and a domestic abuse restraining order (both of which were dismissed), and Rachel VanderLeest was listed as the petitioner on the domestic abuse restraining order.