State to pay $30,000 to settle sign theft lawsuit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - State taxpayers will pay $30,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed against a lawmaker who stole a sign from a protester referring to President Donald Trump as "sadistic," ''racist" and a "serial groper."

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, a Republican from Brookfield running for the state Senate, took the sign in May. Donald Johnson filed the lawsuit accusing Kooyenga of violating his free speech rights.

Johnson's attorney Lester Pines said Monday that the settlement was a "sufficient admission" Kooyenga stole the sign.

Kooyenga said in a statement he didn't intend to cause Johnson any harm and that the settlement was the best option to avoid a prolonged legal battle "or further divert time or energy from the actual public policy priorities facing our state."

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