'Live Ammunition' Tweet Sinks Deputy AG

Political Website Calls Comments Into Question

A deputy in the Indiana Attorney General's Office is no longer employed by the state following online comments he made concerning protesters at the Wisconsin Legislature.

Mother Jones, a political website, tweeted Saturday, "Sources in Madison say riot police have been ordered to clear protesters from capitol at 2 am," to which Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox responded using his personal account, "Use live ammunition."

Editor's Note: Jeff Cox is the son of 6News reporter Norman Cox.

In an article published Wednesday on Mother Jones, author Adam Weinstein said Cox continued to advocate the use of deadly force on protesters.

Cox tweeted, "You're damn right I advocate deadly force," in response to a query from Weinstein.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office said Wednesday morning that Cox's comments were under review. A later statement said Cox was "no longer employed by this agency."

"Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General's Office," the statement read. "We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants, we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility."

Cox told 6News' Joanna Massee on Wednesday that his Twitter comments were intended to be satirical.

"I think this whole situation is a bit ridiculous. Public employees don't lose their own First Amendment rights, especially on their own time and own resources by virtue of their public employment," he said. "I think we're getting down a slippery slope here in terms of silencing people who disagree."

By phone, journalist Weinstein said Cox's comments made him uncomfortable.

"We thought that we had a responsibility to report these public statements of a public servant to really the people of the state that he serves," he said.

Lawyer Kevin Betz called Cox's comments appalling and said he thought there could be more repercussions.

"As a lawyer, he should be held to even higher standards," Betz said. "Potentially, there are disciplinary commission issues that may or not be raised."

Cox said he believes the Wisconsin protesters have a right to voice their opinions and regrets his choice of words.

"I think, in this day and age, that tweet was not a good idea," he said. "In terms of that language, I'm not going to use it anymore."

Cox released a statement about his dismissal late Wednesday evening.