Haywood GOP insider charged with cyberstalking party volunteer
Editor's note: The cyberstalking allegations against Monroe Miller were dismissed by a judge following court testimony on March 24, 2015.
Monroe Miller, a watchdog and critic of county government and member of the so-called “patriot faction” of the Haywood County Republican Party, was charged with the misdemeanor of cyberstalking last week.
The charges were taken out by Savannah Tedesco, a 24-year-old woman. She was a volunteer precinct chair in the Haywood GOP but was in the mainstream of the party and not part of Miller’s faction.
Miller has not been convicted. His first court date is Feb. 23. Miller declined to comment for this article, but has posted his take on the charges on his own website, Haywood County Toeprints, as well as a catalog of his email communications with Tedesco.
Miller is a precinct chair in the local GOP and routinely sends pointed, critical, questioning emails — often laced with personal criticisms against those not in his faction — to a group audience, most of them fellow party members.
Tedesco claims Miller continued to send her these emails after asking him to stop two times, including sending him a cease and desist letter Jan. 16.
“I don’t appreciate your e-mail threat,” Miller replied to her cease and desist letter on Jan. 18.
Miller maintained that he had a right to email her since they were both precinct chairs and it was necessary to communicate about party business.
Tedesco had resigned as precinct chair, however, something that she had announced at the January GOP meeting — a meeting Miller attended, recorded and wrote about in detail in his online newsletter.
But this wasn’t enough to get her name expunged from his emails, Miller replied. Tedesco would keep getting the emails until Miller got a copy of a formal letter from Haywood GOP Chair Pat Carr saying she had resigned.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Tedesco, verbal does not cut it. For me to remove you from my e-mail list, I will need to see a written letter of resignation, from you, to Pat Carr,” Miller wrote as a reply to Tedesco’s cease and desist letter.
Even then, Miller said he may continue to email her about party affairs, since she planned to remain on the statewide GOP executive committee as a Young Republican. And if she stayed involved with the state party’s executive committee, that would make her fair game to email in the future about party matters, Miller said.
“I may need to contact you relating to any state matters. So under any circumstances, you are likely to remain in my e-mail address book,” Miller wrote. Miller also told Tedesco in his email reply that people who threatened him didn’t fare very well.
“Why don’t we do this. Why don’t you have your lawyer send me a threatening letter?” Miller wrote to Tedesco.
Miller proceeded to send Tedesco six additional emails — including five in one day alone — after she had sent him the cease and desist letter. And many of them were copied to a larger group email list.
In his emails, Miller began asking how Tedesco became a precinct chair in the first place, questioning the legitimacy of Tedesco’s role as precinct chair.
Tedesco replied a few days later sharing how the emails had made her feel.
“Your pedantic and truculent nature make me quite irritated, but in truth I feel sorry for you. I hope you will seek some professional counseling,” she wrote to him. “Regardless of my pity for you, I will not stand for being stalked and harassed or intimidated. Thankfully, for myself, you will legally not be able to speak to me in a very short period of time. I recommend you comply when you receive what will be sent. Goodbye Monroe Miller. Do not contact me again.”
Three days later, Miller was arrested for cyberstalking after turning himself in to authorities.
Miller did not email Tedesco again but did continue to write about her on his website and send those writings out in group emails to others.
“Every single time someone tells him to leave them alone it is like you are kicking an ant hill,” said Matthew Hebb, a long-time friend of Tedesco who was also serving on the Haywood GOP governing committee. “He attempts to make issues out of things that are not issues for the purposes of harassment.”
Miller disputed Hebb’s characterization of his emails on his website haywoodtp.net, saying he is innocent.
Cyberstalking is defined by state statute as emails or other electronic communication to someone “for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person.”
But Miller noted an exemption in the law for “peaceable, nonviolent, or nonthreatening activity intended to express political views or to provide lawful information to others.”
That exemption “provides the protection for me to have sent e-mails to SAVANNAH SIMONE TEDESCO and covers me like a blanket,” Miller wrote in his defense on his website.
Miller even posted his own arrest warrant, court notice and a personal account of his booking process on his site.
Tedesco said the emails Miller sent were not limited to political speech, however. For example, he included her in a group email to other party members calling her cease and desist letter “hilarious.”
“I felt publicly humiliated by him forwarding around my cease and desist letter telling people it was hilarious,” Tedesco said.
She also said his nickname for her was derogatory and designed to humiliate her. Miller bestowed her with the nickname “Blue Haired Girl,” and in one email wrote that she looked like she was coming from a Halloween Party. Her hair was only blue for a short period of time and for a specific personal reason.
Yet Miller addressed her as Blue-Haired Girl in emails, so the myriad people copied on his email traffic to her would associate her with the nickname, she said.
Hebb and Tedesco both resigned from the local GOP governing committee because they moved to Greensboro in January. Tedesco actually swore out a warrant against Miller for cyberstalking in Greensboro, since she was already living there by then.
Miller must appear in court in Greensboro as a result, with an initial court date scheduled for Feb. 23. He is barred from having any contact with Tedesco while awaiting a court hearing.