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Dearborn County Democrats claim GOP chair "cyberbullied" constituent

Screenshot of post and comments from Dearborn County Republican Party Facebook page captured and submitted by Tricia Gaustad.

DEARBORN COUNTY, Ind. (WKRC) - The Chair of the Dearborn County Republican Party, Mr. Jim Thatcher, engaged in an attempt to discredit, humiliate and intimidate a constituent in Dearborn County on a Facebook post, Dearborn County Democrats claim.

Tricia Gaustad, who is the chair of the Dearborn County Democrats, along with the rest of her group, issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing what they are calling "cyberbullying" of a Dearborn County constituent.

According to the statement, Mr. Thatcher responded to a comment on a post about Congressman Luke Messer's (R-IN 6th Distrcit) visit to the county on the Dearborn County Republican Party's Facebook page with a picture from the commentator's Facebook profile.

The picture was of the commentator smoking from a hookah, which is used to smoke substances such as tobacco. Dearborn County Democrats said in their statement that they believe that the picture was chosen intentionally to "discredit the constituent, implying that constituent’s ideas were not valid."

Mr. Thatcher also sent a private message to the constituent with his reasoning for posting the picture. Mr. Thatcher said that he really wanted to know "who really supports your lifestyle in Dearborn Co." He also said that it appeared that some of the "Dem friends" were "two-faced" but did not explain why he thought that to be true. The full message can be read in this article's photo gallery.

The statement is also asking for the Dearborn County Republican Party and the Indiana Republican Party to issue the constituent an apology. They claim that their efforts to contact representatives of the party have so far received no response.

The Facebook post in question has since been removed from the Dearborn County Republicans Facebook page.

"The dozens of concerned citizens responding to this attack were blocked from the Dearborn County Republican Page and the majority of their comments deleted," said the statement.

Screenshots of the post and several comments were captured by Gaustad and sent into Local 12. You can see them in this article's photo gallery.

"Let it be clear, Dearborn County Democrats denounces cyberbullying. Furthermore, it is particularly unacceptable for an elected party official, such as Mr. Thatcher, to use his position of power and responsibility to attack and attempt to intimidate a private citizen," said the statement.

The following is the statement from the Dearborn County Democrats in full:

On Sunday night, the Chair of the Dearborn County Republican Party, Mr. Jim Thatcher, engaged in an attempt to discredit, humiliate and intimidate a constituent in Dearborn County.
The constituent, a lifelong resident of Dearborn County, responded to a post on the Dearborn County Republican Party Facebook page about the Messer "Meet and Greet". He expressed his frustration with Rep. Messer keeping everyone waiting for 40 minutes while he was sitting in his car. He further expressed frustration that Rep. Messer argued with an attendee instead of answering his question. Mr. Thatcher replied to the post by capturing and posting a picture that he pulled off the poster’s facebook page without permission.. Mr. Thatcher, it is believed, intentionally chose a picture to discredit the constituent, implying that constituent’s ideas were not valid.
The constituent is a respected and treasured citizen in Dearborn County and a third generation resident. The response to Mr. Thatcher's attack was swift and strong. Dozens of supporters flooded the page with messages of support and outrage. Rather than simply deleting the post with a sincere apology; Mr. Thatcher made the situation worse by sending a private message, telling the man he should "reconsider" his “free thinking” and “lifestyle”. He further questioned whether he had any support for his “lifestyle” in Dearborn County.
The Dearborn County Democrats officially asked the Dearborn County Republican Party and the Indiana Republican Party to issue the constituent an apology. They have not responded. Rep. Messer’s office was contacted twice; with no response. The constituent asked for an apology from county leaders and has received no response. The dozens of concerned citizens responding to this attack were blocked from the Dearborn County Republican Page and the majority of their comments deleted.
Let it be clear, Dearborn County Democrats denounces cyberbullying. Furthermore, it is particularly unacceptable for an elected party official, such as Mr. Thatcher, to use his position of power and responsibility to attack and attempt to intimidate a private citizen.
We also respectfully request that the numerous individuals that were blocked on the Dearborn County Republican Party facebook page be unblocked and allowed to engage in civil discourse.
It is our sincere hope that we can put this matter to rest and get back to focusing on the issues that affect everyday Hoosiers. We hope that the constituent finally can receive the apology he deserves. In our nation, we value a diversity of ideas and we embrace spirited debate on issues and policies. Once resolved, our goal is to move forward in a collegial and civil manner to support the needs of those in Dearborn County.

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