Vivian Creighton-Bishop, Columbus clerk of municipal court and wife of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, claims she was attacked by a supporter of Mayor Teresa Tomlinson at a recent public event, according to Tomlinson’s opponent Colin Martin.
Martin made the allegation during a public forum at which both mayoral candidates appeared Thursday night at the Columbus Public Library.
“This has gotten out of hand,” Martin said. “Vivian Creighton-Bishop is here and I appreciate her being here. Two nights ago, she was attacked, physically attacked by a supporter of Mayor Tomlinson for supporting me. She had to call the Secret Service.”
George Ogilvie, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington D.C., said the agency does not provide protection to members of Congress or their families except on the rare occasion they are directed to by the Executive Branch of the government. He was not aware of any White House directive to provide protection for Rep. Bishop’s family.
Tomlinson called the situation “bizarre” and said she is puzzled why she and her campaign have been associated with the incident between two people who have nothing to do with either.
“I knew nothing about it until yesterday at the candidate forum. Mr. McLeod is not a campaign worker nor is he a volunteer with our campaign,” Tomlinson said. “He is, though, a long-time acquaintance of Vivian Bishop and Sanford Bishop. In fact, he is a big supporter of Sanford Bishop. I don’t know what kind of falling-out they had, and I’m sorry for that, but how in the world I or my campaign got involved in some disagreement they had, I don’t know.”
Tomlinson said she had spoken to Sanford Bishop on Tuesday at the announcement of the new Walmart in south Columbus, and Bishop never brought up the incident.
“We spoke for an extended period of time about two projects we’re working on. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked about his health and all kinds of things and he did not mention this to me or allude to it,” Tomlinson said. “Again, I’m that sorry they’ve had some sort of dust-up, but I don’t know how our campaign has gotten injected into it.”
Creighton-Bishop filed a Stalking Ex Parte Temporary Protective Order against Columbus resident Doug McLeod, a former insurance agent and frequent volunteer at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
The order, signed by Superior Court Judge Arthur Smith, restricts McLeod from approaching within 1,000 yards of Bishop or her family and from having any contact direct or indirect with any member of the Bishop family.
McLeod is ordered to appear in Smith’s court on May 28 to show why Bishop’s demands should not be honored.
The order also states that violation of the restrictions set forth could result in McLeod’s arrest.
According to Bishop’s report requesting the order, the incident took place during an event Tuesday at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
“Respondent approached me at my table, touching me on the arm, yelling that I better support Teresa Tomlinson for mayor or I would regret it. I responded by asking him to remove his hand from me and he refused. He responded by telling me I had better tell my husband the same.
“I responded that my husband is not a resident of Muscogee County so he could not vote in that race. He started yelling louder and that I would be sorry if she lost and that he could take care of me and he meant it.”
Bishop’s account said state Sen. Ed Harbison was among two witnesses who got between her and McLeod.
Harbison recalled Friday that he was walking over to speak to Bishop that night when he saw her exchanging words with someone.
“As I got right up on them, it was as if she pushed someone away from her, and I grabbed her, because I realized then something was amiss,” the senator said. “So I restrained her so she would not get into an altercation.... Not that it was her fault; I didn’t know what was going on at that point. Then I saw she was fussing at somebody she said had grabbed her arm and threatened her.”
Harbison described McLeod’s demeanor as “adamant.” The battle of words continued even as others intervened, he said.
“They kept the words up even as I was there, but I kept pulling at her and pulling at her, because I was concerned about her safety.” he said.
He had heard Bishop recently had been injured in an accident, he said: “So I was just trying to hold her back.”
Bishop concluded her account of the event:
“I am in fear of my safety and the safety of family members. My 6-year-old granddaughter is often with me and we attend a lot of public events. “I have reported this incident to the federal authorities and informed them of the action I was pursuing.”
In 2008, while working at the local headquarters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, Creighton-Bishop reported to police that a man accosted her outside the building and threw a mop at her. He was angry, Creighton-Bishop said, that she was supporting a white person over Barack Obama. The man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
In 2012, Creighton-Bishop swore out a similar temporary protective order against a former deputy municipal court clerk, Joann Flantroy, who was allegedly hanging around the eighth floor of the Government Center, where the clerk’s office is. Creighton-Bishop and Marshal Greg Countryman, who also swore out the order, dropped the order just before there was to be a court hearing on the issue.
Attempts to contact McLeod were unsuccessful.