A process server hired to notify state Sen. Leah Vukmir of a lawsuit says a Vukmir aide assailed him with abusive language, chased him and pushed him to the ground outside the Capitol, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The aide, Jason Rostan, told the State Journal that he didn’t push the process server but acknowledged following him and trying to force him to take the court papers back. Rostan said the man tripped and fell while refusing to accept the paperwork.
“Looking back on it all, I should have just let it go,” said Rostan, 38, who has worked as a legislative aide for 15 years, including three for Vukmir.
Professional process servers are hired so plaintiffs bringing a lawsuit can demonstrate they made adequate efforts to notify the person being sued, which must happen before the lawsuit can proceed.
The process server’s account of what happened on Sept. 3 is contained in a sworn statement attached to a lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court. The suit seeks to force Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, to hand over documents from a May conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Rostan “started to call me a low-life jerk and (expletives)” in Vukmir’s Capitol office, Bruce Lowrey, co-owner of C. Lowrey Process Service, said in the affidavit. “When I got outside Jason was running after me and he pushed me and knocked me down and threw the paperwork at me and continued to call me all kinds of (vulgar) names.”
Lowrey said he and an employee had tried twice previously to serve Vukmir.
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Lowrey’s wife and business partner, Chris Lowrey, said the next day she went to Vukmir’s office to complain.
“One of the guys got rude and snotty and I told him to stop right there,” she told the State Journal. “I told them, ‘You guys are the ones who make the law, and you have to follow it. Be professional.’ ”
In her affidavit she describes Rostan holding his hands behind him while she reached around and touched the papers to his hands — to make the service legal — before leaving the papers on a desk.
“That office hopefully learned a lesson,” Chris Lowrey said. “I’m a Republican, and I was disgusted with their behavior.”
Vukmir staff members had been told by the state Department of Justice not to accept service in the case, Rostan said. Department of Justice officials couldn’t be reached Wednesday night. Vukmir didn’t return phone calls or emails seeking her comment.
The Center For Media and Democracy of Madison filed the lawsuit against Vukmir on June 5. The suit seeks records the advocacy group believes Vukmir obtained as a top official of ALEC, which brings lawmakers and corporations together to write model legislation promoting free market goals.
The lawsuit alleges that Vukmir took an active role in the May conference in Oklahoma City, but she has claimed she has almost no documents from the session.