An Indiana GOP tracker sent to follow Rep. Joe Donnelly, the Democratic nominee for Senate, instead followed a criminal court judge who feared that he was being stalked.
As first reported in the Indianapolis Star, 49-year old tracker Kurt Holland followed the car of Judge Jose Salinas, after a local Democratic picnic Saturday in the Indianapolis area. When the judge noticed a mysterious person was following him — for 16 miles — he pulled into a parking lot, briefly followed Holland’s car in order to get his license plate number, and called the police.
Salinas told TPM that as the county’s drug court judge, his duties do involve sentencing people to prison: “And you know what, we have to deal with this stuff all the time, people not liking what we do, people not liking our rulings.”
“I gotta be honest with you,” said Salinas. “For those 16 miles he was on me on the highway, and when I noticed him, the unknown factor was scary.”
Holland has chalked it up to a case of mistaken identity.
The paper reported:
Holland told The Indianapolis Star he still questions whether it was Salinas in the car, and not Donnelly.
He also argued that he ended up being the driver that was chased. He discounted Salinas’ statement that he was afraid, saying if the judge is worried about being attacked he shouldn’t have a license plate that spells out his last name.
“I think that it was a set-up,” Holland said.
Salinas confirmed to TPM that he does indeed use his last name on his license plate: “Well that means he knew whose car it was. I’ve had that license plate since I moved here in the mid-90’s, and I kept it because — you know, I had it as a law student, I had it as a lawyer, and I just kept it. And I never had an incident of someone following me because of that license plate, ever.”
Salinas also told TPM that no charges were being filed: “I talked to the Sheriff’s Department, and they don’t believe that any laws were broken. But on a personal level, I feel that something should’ve been done. Because you know what, he scared the crap out of me.”
Holland spoke briefly with TPM, reiterating that he thought he was following Donnelly.
“Salinas and Donnelly, they almost looked alike,” Holland told TPM. “Same body stature, same hair, I didn’t see a goatee on him or anything. They almost looked identical — they could be brothers.”
When it was pointed out that the two men look quite different even beside the goatee — such as Salinas being of a Latino background, and Donnelly a Caucasian one — Holland stood firm.
“They kind of looked alike to me. You see, my job was to track Donnelly. So why would I track Salinas unless it was mistaken identity?” He made clear that he thought it was Donnelly getting into the car at the end of the event. “They were almost wearing the same shirt, too.”
State GOP spokesman Pete Seat confirmed to TPM that Holland has resigned as a tracker.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” said Seat. “You make mistakes, and so do I. A mistake was made, and it was an unfortunate mistake, and we move on.”
The police report:
ATTENTION MARION COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE - ON JULY 28, 2012, AT APPROXIMATELY 1 PM, A SUBJECT WAS SEEN BY THOSE ATTENDING A DEMOCRATIC MEETING AT 7201 CHALIS COURT IN INDIANAPOLIS. THIS PERSON WAS TAKING PHOTOS OF THE GATHERING AND OF PEOPLE COMING AND GOING. AT THIS TIME JUDGE JOSE SALINAS LEFT THE EVENT AND NOTICED THE CAMERMAN WAS FOLLOWING HIM. THE JUDGE, WHO IS A CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE, AND HAS RECEIVED THREATS IN THE PAST, WAS CONCERNED FOR HIS SAFETY. THE PERSON FOLLOWED THE JUDGE IN A GRAY TOYOTA, WITH INDIANA PLATE (redacted)EVENTUALLY JUDGE SALINAS PULLED INTO A PARKING LOT AT RAYMOND AND SHELBY STREET JUST OFF OF I-65. THE SUBJECT PULLED INTO THE LOT THEN LEFT THE AREA. THE PLATE COMES BACK TO A(redacted), (redacted) SOUTH WINDSOR DRIVE. UPON ARRIVAL AT THE LISTED ADDRESS, A MAN NAMED KURT ALAN HOLLAND, W/M(redacted), WAS LOCATED AND AGREED TO AN INTERVIEW. MR. HOLLAND ADMITTED TO PHOTOGRAPHING THE EVENT AND CHASING AFTER JUDGE SALINAS BUT SAYS HE THOUGHT HE WAS FOLLOWING JOE DONNELLY. MR. HOLLAND SAYS HE WORKS FOR PETE SEAT OF THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE. THE ASSIGNMENT WAS TO REVEAL HOW THE “PARTY OF THE POOR” IS ACTUALLY LED BY RICH PEOPLE, IN NICE CARS, IN RICH NEIGHBORHOODS. THE PHOTOS WERE TO BE USED FOR TV POLITICAL CAMPAIGN ADVERTISEMENTS. MR. HOLLAND CLAIMS HE DID NOT KNOW JUDGE SALINAS WAS IN THE VEHICLE HE TAILED. MARION COUNTY DEPUTIES MADE CONTACT WITH JUDGE SALINAS TO ASSURE THE SAFETY OF HIM AND HIS FAMILY.