To the Editor:
In response to dramatic "social media" allegations espoused by the Committee to Elect Judge Kolker campaign, which has made preposterous allegations of stolen campaign slogans, "thievery" of use of a public link, Facebook post “copying,”and Judge Kolker’s egregious use of a pending case in the 20th Judicial Circuit to further Judge Kolker's political agenda, our campaign states in response the following:
The phrase “raising the bar" is not - and has never been - my campaign slogan. Those three words appear once on my campaign website www.ruoccoforjudge.com (and as part of an eight-word subtitle for one website post). In fact, my campaign adopted its slogan of "Justice for All" months ago.
This slogan has been printed on our t-shirts and campaign cards since last October. Our website header contains a scanned copy of my campaign card (again, printed last October).
Last week, one of my campaign’s social media content creators suggested we post a public link of Katie Davis’ summary of laws slideshow (which was a fantastic and well-made presentation very beneficial for viewers). Staff didn’t realize the author was Judge Kolker’s wife or that the slideshow was affiliated with his campaign (since it lists no campaign logo, name, etc.).
It seemed like Mr. Kolker, a sitting judge, was simply sharing a public legal resource. Our campaign briefly posted on our Facebook page the public link to Katie Davis’ original slides (which were obviously unmoved, unaltered, and thus still bore the name “Katie Davis” as their author). Upon learning that Davis was Kolker’s wife and had created the slides for her husband’s campaign, the post was deleted amicably by my staff, per Judge Kolker’s request. Otherwise, my social media team produces timely and unique content relevant for our followers. This is clear from a review of our campaign’s and Judge Kolker’s campaign’s Facebook pages.
Kolker did not specify which “other posts” my staff allegedly “copied” from his page. Naturally, a few posts have overlapping themes. For example, both of our campaigns posted about Affordable Care Act deadlines on Nov. 1 (the first day of open enrollment) - with Kolker posting a few hours before our campaign. Both campaigns also posted to commemorate National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Jan. 9 - but here our campaign posted two hours before Kolker’s campaign.
Both campaigns also posted a “this-day-in-history” fact on Jan. 13 - and again, our campaign posted our fact (about National Geographic) two hours before Kolker posted his fact (about Johnny Cash).
Alleging one candidate is “copying” another’s use of these predictably overlapping themes is ludicrous.
Our campaign isn’t going to accuse Kolker of “copying” our earlier postings that featured public commemoration dates or common "fun-fact” formats. It’s time that Judge Kolker maintain the dignity of his judicial office and stop his bullying and name calling.
Thievery is a very serious and defamatory allegation – especially by a sitting judge. Sharing a public link on Facebook is not thievery. This entire dialogue is unbecoming to the dignity of our judiciary, and demonstrates how entrenched incumbents like Judge Kolker (who is not even my opponent) try to discourage participation in our electoral system.
Finally, Kolker's campaign states that "Raising the Bar" is a "strange choice" for my campaign and then alleges that I "ran last election cycle with" Judge Ronald Duebbert, "who now has felony charges pending." I have never run on a ticket with Judge Ronald Duebbert or any other person. The Kolker campaign’s irrelevant and opportunistic mention of Judge Duebbert and his currently pending charges is highly inappropriate and willfully misleading.
The Duebbert matter is a matter to be heard in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court, the very court in which Judge Kolker serves. A sitting judge using a pending case to clearly further his personal and political agenda is shameful. Politics have no place in the courtroom.
Katherine Ruocco, candidate for circuit judge