By Joe Vittie
A recently released Madison Police Department report provides previously unknown details about the actions of Wisconsin state Representative Brett Hulsey (D – Madison) in his encounter with a nine-year old boy at Spring Harbor Beach on the evening of July 4. Hulsey pled no contest to disorderly conduct for the incident on August 15.
In his initial statement to Madison detectives Hulsey almost appeared to have forgotten that a boy was even present in the waters of the Lake Mendota beach on the day in question. Hulsey said he encountered the boy and two other children who were splashing each other and laughing, but only relates that he raised his arms to the sides as he passed them, making no noise, and then returned to the beach to dry off.
One can almost detect incredulity by the police when they asked Hulsey how the nine year-old boy ended up in the water. Hulsey’s response was that he “didn’t touch him or molest him.”
One of the children told police that she asked the boy if he knew the man, because at first “he was being too friendly to be a stranger.” The girl said that the man later snuck up behind the boy, said “Boo” and pushed the boy off his inflatable. She said the man touched both the inflatable and the boy, causing the boy to fall into the water.
The girl told police that she felt “strange” about Hulsey because she “didn’t really know what he could do.”
The boy, who police described as very articulate, said he was scared by the strange man who flipped him off his inflatable. The boy said that the man splashed him and laughed at him when he surfaced from the dunking.
The boy’s mother and grandmother, who were on the deck of the grandparent’s home, adjacent to the beach, said that Hulsey took pictures of the children with his phone upon his return to land. The adults heard the boy yell at Hulsey, “Hey why are you taking my picture?” The boy said Hulsey responded to his complaint by pointing the camera toward the water for a moment before pointing it back at the boy to take more photos. The boy told the detective that he thought that Hulsey was a liar, pretending not to take his picture when he really was.
The boy’s father, who was “very uncomfortable,” and had a sick feeling about this stranger taking pictures of his son, went to the beach and confronted Hulsey. When the father asked Hulsey what he was doing, Hulsey responded, “It’s okay. I know (the family).” The father, who said he does not know Hulsey, countered that it was not okay. The father said Hulsey responded by quickly gathering his items and biking away. The grandmother described Hulsey’s departure from the beach as that like “a bat out of hell.”
Police asked both grandparents if they knew Hulsey. The grandfather who did not witness most of the incident, said that he knew Hulsey through political activities and that “he was not surprised” at Hulsey’s actions, and that the representative is “an odd individual.” He continued that even though he knows Hulsey he was not comfortable with the politician’s behavior.
The boy’s grandmother, named only Sally in the report, has been identified as Sally Miley, a top aide to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. Miley knows Hulsey and expressed to police that she felt uncomfortable and had awkward feelings regarding the situation due to her job, and Hulsey’s as a legislator.
Miley was so upset about the incident, which she described, in part, as “creepy,” that she related Hulsey’s actions to Kevin Briske, the Supervisor of the Madison Parks Department. The police report states:
Sally became emotional and began crying and apologized, stating she gets very protective when it comes to her children and grandchildren. Sally stated that she felt it was important to make sure Parks staff were aware, so that no children were in danger.
Briske responded (to Sally), “Oh” and stated that he was aware of the individual. Briske went on to explain to Sally that the Parks staff are aware of Hulsey and that he has made many of their staff members at different beaches uncomfortable with his behavior. Briske indicated that he had a somewhat stalking situation going on with a lifeguard at Olin Park and that every time staff questioned him as to what he was doing, he simply replies that he’s checking out the beach.
Briske’s response was completely different when asked for comment by WKOW News on Tuesday. He said that there have been no past complaints about Brett Hulsey’s behavior and that he was unaware of any concern over Hulsey’s interaction with a lifeguard.
WKOW also reported that when they contacted Miley at her City Hall office, she declined to comment, as did Mayor Paul Soglin.
What is the City of Madison hiding? Does Mayor Soglin need to be reminded of the debacle at Penn State University? And while Soglin contemplates, Madison Police spokesperson Joel Despain says the police reports speak for themselves.
Perhaps Soglin and the City Attorney should listen to last week’s local morning talk show “Sly In the Morning” with John”Sly” Sylvester, in which Hulsey told Sly a new, more desperate version of events at the beach.
Hulsey’s newer story: “There’s this, you know, young man wildly splashing these two little girls. I’m a parent, this looks like a bad situation.”
Hulsey continued, “A child splashing at a beach without supervision to me is a potentially dangerous situation. If my son was doing it he would have gotten a time out.” (Hulsey’s son is entering his junior year in high school according to the representative’s campaign web site.)
Hulsey did admit that he snuck up behind the boy, after finishing his own cooling off dip, and yelled, “Boo” at the boy.
“I was concerned about a potentially dangerous situation with this wild child splashing these two other little kids.”
So what did Brett Hulsey do to insure beach safety? He flipped the nine year-old boy off his floatie into Lake Mendota.
Paul Soglin is not the only elected official that needs to consider the gravity of this situation. Peter Barca, the Democratic Party Assembly Minority Leader faces a November election in which his party aspires to take back the majority from the Republicans. Can Barca accomplish that goal with Brett Hulsey, the Madison equivalent of Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin, on his team?
Jeri Jafek Troia, a Hulsey district resident, said that her neighborhood had been dotted with several Hulsey campaign signs prior to last week. “We were out of town for a few days last week. Something seemed different when we got home. Today, I realized that there are ZERO Hulsey signs in my neighborhood.”
Hulsey faces Jonathan Dedering of the Green Party in the November general election. Dedering did not wish to comment on the specifics of Hulsey’s July 4 behavior, but offered that the situation highlighted Hulsey’s history of poor decision making and not being forthright with voters.