By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Republican Party leader who is running for state treasurer has been ordered to stay away from his ex-fiancee after allegedly threatening her and admittedly using her iTunes account’s “Find iPhone” app to track her whereabouts.
A judge this month granted a temporary restraining order against former U.S. Army captain John Thompson, one of 16 members of the Iowa Republican Party central committee and the party’s only candidate so far challenging State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald in 2018. Thompson denied wrongdoing Tuesday and said the allegations were meant to harm him politically.
His former fiancee and campaign treasurer, Republican activist MacKenzie Dreeszen, alleged in an Aug. 2 legal petition that she feared for her physical safety after Thompson harassed and threatened her and her sister on multiple occasions from mid-July to early August.
In one July 23 incident, Dreeszen’s mother called police after receiving a text message from Dreeszen saying she was at Thompson’s home in Jefferson and that he was threatening her and wouldn’t let her leave. An officer went to the home to investigate, and Dreeszen left with the officer. No charges were filed, and Thompson said the two had only been arguing.
Dreeszen, 25, wrote in her petition that Thompson “tracked my location using iTunes, locked my phone and threatened me” on July 16.
Thompson acknowledged to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he logged into her account and put her phone in lost mode “so I could figure out where she was at.” But he said he did so only because he was concerned for her safety after she didn’t show up for a planned meeting without explanation. He said he learned she had misled him about her whereabouts.
The two are expected at a court hearing in Des Moines on Wednesday to determine whether the restraining order should be made permanent. The temporary order says Thompson must not contact Dreeszen, who recently called off their September wedding, outside of court under any circumstance.
Thompson, 37, said he never threatened Dreeszen or her sister, who lives in Florida. Instead, he said he got upset after learning that Dreeszen’s sister had allegedly obtained his Social Security number to conduct a background check on his legal and financial history and had contacted his previous wife for information about their hostile divorce. He said he repeatedly told Dreeszen he planned to pursue criminal charges over the use of his personal information.
Thompson, a West Point graduate who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has said his Army career was damaged and he lost custody of his young son when he was falsely accused of soliciting two people to kill his wife in 2012. He was charged with a felony in North Carolina, where he was stationed at Fort Bragg. The Army put him on house arrest for months until the case was dropped by prosecutors due to insufficient evidence.
In 2013, Thompson was arrested at the Des Moines airport after going through security with a pistol, magazines and bullets. He said Tuesday he had no idea he was carrying his then-girlfriend’s gun and ammunition, and that he received a deferred judgment for a misdemeanor airport screening violation.
After leaving the Army, Thompson attended a graduate program at Harvard. He briefly ran for state treasurer in 2014 before dropping out and campaigning for Republican candidate Sam Clovis. He was elected to the GOP central committee in 2015 and got engaged to Dreeszen.
After the July 23 incident involving police, Dreeszen wrote that Thompson threatened her on Aug. 2 after he learned her family was notifying guests that their wedding had been cancelled. Thompson said he was upset that her relatives were involved, but he denied making threats.
Thompson faces an uphill campaign against Fitzgerald, a Democrat who has held the office since 1983.