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Video: Daily Show Skewers Peoria Mayor For Crusade Against Parody Twitter

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 21, 2015 7:30PM

It seems that Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis can’t catch a break, despite what some have dubbed #Twittergate being more than a year old.

In September, the City of Peoria and Jeff Daniel reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought forth by the ACLU on behalf of Daniel for $125,000, stemming from when Ardis had police raid Daniel’s home over a parody Twitter account.

In April of last year, police scooped up Daniel and several of his friends, some from their workplaces, along with laptops and smartphones, after the relatively unknown civic leader was fed up with an already suspended parody Twitter account. With the help of the ACLU, Daniel sued the city for the raid, and a court awarded him $125,000 settlement and reminded both Ardis and the Peoria Police Department how free speech works.

“Hurt feelings do not free government from the responsibility of respecting Mr. Daniel’s freedom of speech and freedom from being arrested for that speech...The directive makes clear that parody should never be the predicate for a criminal investigation and that the action against Mr. Daniel should never be repeated again,” said Karen Sheley, senior staff counsel at the ACLU at the time.

If Ardis thought that was the end of his nightmarish ordeal, he was wrong. The Daily Show dropped into Peoria last week to interview Daniel, who correspondent Jessica Williams referred to as a “predator.” The results, while funny for the majority of the rest of the country, were probably bone-chilling for Ardis. Here's the video:

“The evidence of his operation was everywhere,” says Williams of Daniel’s home. “It’s like some kind of mobile joke lab.”

“I doubt the mayor would’ve wrote ‘I’m trill as fuck,’” Daniel tells Williams in the sketch, when asked how anyone was supposed to know if the account, which was labeled a parody account, didn’t really belong to Ardis. “That dude is 56 years old. He’s so old he probably can’t even read the internet. You prey on the hopeless,” Williams says to Daniel.

This too, might not be the last we hear about #Twittergate in Peoria. According to Vice, Daniel is mulling a mayoral run. “I think Sleezy (Daniel’s nickname) fully intends to run,” Dan Brown, a friend of Daniel’s and his campaign manager. “The election is still a year away, but he's looking into all the official requirements for candidacy. I think the attention he'll get from appearing on The Daily Show is more than most Peoria mayoral candidates achieve.”