Police: Stormy Daniels' Strip Club Arrest Wasn't Political
The 2018 arrest of porn star Stormy Daniels at a Columbus strip club was improper but not planned ahead of time or politically motivated, according to an internal police department review released Friday.
The investigation looked into allegations that police officers who support Republican President Donald Trump conspired to retaliate against the porn actress over her claims she had sex with Trump before he became president.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was arrested in July on suspicion of inappropriately touching an undercover officer. Prosecutors dropped charges hours later, saying the law cited in Daniels' arrest applied only to those who regularly performed at the club.
Officers who went to the club that night were targeting the club and not Daniels as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal activity, according to the head of the city vice squad. Those alleged activities including human trafficking, underage drinking and drug dealing, the report said.
But the investigation that night shifted to a narrower investigation of alleged illegal touching of customers by dancers, according to the report.
Officers chose to obtain evidence for such touching "by placing themselves, unnecessarily, at risk and potential for physical contact with Ms. Clifford," the report concluded.
Afterward, Daniels did not "make a complaint or comment about any officer making a political related remark or statement to her about President Trump," Lt. Ronald Kemmerling, vice section lieutenant, told investigators.
Messages were left Friday for attorneys representing Daniels.
The report came the day after a federal judge tossed out her lawsuit against Trump that sought to tear up a hush-money settlement about their alleged affair.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles said the suit was irrelevant after Trump and his former personal lawyer agreed not to penalize Daniels for violating a nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for a $130,000 payment.
The 10-year-old law used to arrest Daniels states that dancers at "sexually oriented" businesses are prohibited from touching customers and vice versa.
Last year, City Attorney Zach Klein called the law "glaringly inequitable" because its applicability depends on how regularly the employee performs and should not be enforced. He also said employees who touch police are not in violation because on-duty public officials are not legally considered patrons.
It's no surprise the arrests were deemed improper, given the city attorney's stance, Keith Ferrell, president of the union representing Columbus officers, said Friday.
He reiterated that officers weren't politically motivated.
"I don't think this is any different than a lot of the other operations they've run in the past," said Ferrell, president of Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9.
Social media posts by the officers involved indicated they were strongly pro-Trump.
Earlier this year, Daniels sued several Columbus police officers for $2 million over her arrest.
Daniels' federal defamation lawsuit alleges that officers conspired to retaliate against her because of her claims regarding Trump.
The officers "believed that Ms. Clifford was damaging President Trump and they thereafter entered into a conspiracy to arrest her during her performance in Columbus in retaliation for the public statements she had made regarding President Trump," according to the lawsuit.
Two dancers arrested with Daniels that night have filed a similar lawsuit.