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The curious case of Keith Matune

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Chicago Tribune, May 07, 1991

A Woodridge man was arrested and charged with being a fugitive from justice after police discovered he is wanted on a larceny charge in Montgomery County, Va.

Police said they stopped a car driven by Keith R.W. Matune, 21, of 5921 Jackson Drive early Friday on the 6200 block of Belmont Road for driving with bright headlights.

Matune, who was taken to Du Page County Jail, will be extradited to Virginia, police said.

* Matune is now running for the Illinois House as a Republican against Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove). He’s expected to have lots of support from groups on the right because of Rep. Sandack’s vote for gay marriage and his years-long battle with Dan Proft (whose PAC just received a $1.5 million check from a far right businessman). The House Republican Organization found the above story with a simple Google search, I’m told. HRO has vowed to defend all challenged incumbents in the primary.

The 1991 arrest in and of itself is probably no big deal. Things happen in life. But Sandack wanted to make sure Matune knew about this, so, apparently as a courtesy, he asked for a sitdown with Matune, and the two met with one person from each camp present to talk it over.

* Matune then issued a blistering press release

Keith Matune, who is challenging State Rep. Ron Sandack, claimed today that the incumbent Republican legislator threatened him at a meeting the two had at Omega restaurant in Downers Grove yesterday, January 12.

According to Matune, Sandack told him the meeting was a “courtesy” to inform him that members of the House Republican Organization (HRO) will be releasing unflattering, personal information about his past. Information that could damage Matune’s reputation in the community.

The information Sandack may have been referring to is a newspaper article from 1991 that noted Matune had been arrested for larceny, was an out of state fugitive from justice, and was being extradited.

Matune said the incident was an “innocent misunderstanding” and explained that he “unintentionally wrote a $150 check that was returned for insufficient funds while attending college out of state.” While home for the summer, he was stopped by local police for a broken headlight and was notified during the stop that there was an out of state warrant issued for an insufficient check.

Matune said he was “completely surprised and unaware of the situation,” and that he was not arrested and all charges were dropped within 24 hours after he made full restitution.

Sandack totally denies that any threats of any kind were made.

And he wasn’t arrested? Well, not according to the Tribune, but maybe the paper made a mistake. Still, there’s also this little matter of what looks to be mugshots

* And check out this DuPage County record by clicking here

the said defendant after having been charged in Montgomery County, Commonwealth of Virginia with the offense of Fraud - Insufficient Funds Check, in violation of Virginia statute 18.2-181, fled the Commonwealth of Virginia with the intent to avoid prosecution of that offense. [Emphasis added.]

* Back to Matune’s press release

According to the Illinois State Police database, Matune has no record of arrest, which is reflected in his employment applications. [Emphasis added]

Uh-oh. If he really was arrested, that might turn out to be a huge problem for Matune because he’s a teacher.

* And then he revealed something that HRO didn’t know about. Back to the Matune press release

Matune apologized for the incident in a press release, including an indecency charge during a fraternity prank. [Emphasis added]

Um, OK.

* Ormsby

Meanwhile, a GOP source told The Illinois Observer that Matune had contacted the Daily Herald and asked if he “could amend his questionnaire and they confirmed he answered NO to the question: Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime?”

Oof.

If Matune is now attempting to cover up his 1991 arrest, he may have compromised the value of “it was a long time ago” argument by allegedly committing a fresh transgression, a transgression that would strike at the heart of his current character. Not good.

While the original charge would haunt Matune’s campaign, if he mishandles the response – that could doom it.

Uh-oh.

I’m assuming more will be on the way. Stay tuned.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


44 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    “Face forward…now tut to the right…”

    Yeah, I can see how forget that.

    Sandack, Sullivan, Pihos - all about the way Leader Durkin does his business, and the tenor of the Staff doing theirs.


  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    It’s never the screwup, but the coverup, that will get you in politics.

    What was the threat? Matune alleges a threat in the first sentence, then completely abandons the idea.

    If you accuse someone of making a threat, spell it out.


  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    Gonna sound silly since I have never been in the situation but do they only mug shot you if you have been arrested?


  4. - walker - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    You are your own best oppo researcher.

    Uncover the worst about your past, and let your opponent read about it in the newspaper because you gave it to them first.


  5. - Aldyth - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    “It was so long ago and they’ll never find out.”

    Famous campaign-ending words.


  6. - SonofSuperAbe2014 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Keith Matune for governor!! He will be ready “to serve” on the first day.


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    A prime example of why tolerance and basic respect for others is important.

    Who among us are perfect?

    He looks young in that mug shot, and it sounds like a dumb mistake made by a college kid. College kids make lots of dumb mistakes and dumb choices.

    But he isn’t likely to earn much sympathy or tolerance in light of the many stones he has cast.


  8. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    I’ll bet the BGA and Andy Shaw don’t jump on this any time soon…just sayin.


  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Formerly Known As…

    Agree, however he has lost some of that sympathy with the whole press release thing.


  10. - anon - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Perhaps he filed the paperwork to have the arrest expunged.


  11. - CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    apparently the whackobirds are not vetting their candidates very well this cycle….they probably think FarmerBrucey will pull them all in :)


  12. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    Then again, Al Sanchez and Isaac Carothers make this incident look like amateur hour. Maybe Matune was just training to run for office in Illinois?


  13. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    OneMan - so true.

    What goes around comes around. Treat others without mercy, and they aren’t likely to show mercy upon you during your hour of need.


  14. - Joan P. - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    “fled the Commonwealth of Virginia with the intent to avoid prosecution”

    That is standard language in any extradition warrant. It can mean nothing more than the person left the state, perhaps not even knowing (as Matune claims) that there were charges pending.

    I can’t get even mildly excited about a 22-year-old NSF check for $150.


  15. - Smoggie - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    Sandack seemed genuinely surprised by the outburst by his opponent, which may explain Sandack’s cryptic Facebook post a day or so ago (”Was again reminded that no good deed goes unpunished.”)


  16. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    A college kid bounced a check and the county cops in DuPage took him in. Big deal.

    So did he streak or just moon? Our frat did an annual streak party “for the initiates”. Weird to think about it now, but hey, COLLEGE.

    The part that doesn’t pass the smell test, is an incumbent extending ANY courtesy. In Illinois? Come on.


  17. - Knome Sane - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    It sorta, kinda ironic that Matune posts on his Facebook page the following:

    “Virtually every state employee must pass a criminal background, especially those working with children. McCraven should be fired, so should the person that hired him.”


  18. - Knome Sane - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    And here all along I though he was arrested for wearing that mugshot sweater in public.


  19. - SonofSuperAbe2014 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    I wonder what the parents of his students will think about a teacher who is a serial liar and was charged w/ public indecency?


  20. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    ===doesn’t pass the smell test, is an incumbent extending ANY courtesy===

    Happens a lot more than you’d think.


  21. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    So would the new Ives bill preclude Matune from being employed by the State of Illinois? Or from being elected?

    In general though, I agree the best course of action with old arrest records is to just disclose it early on your own tems. Take the thunder out of the opponents hit pieces, if any.

    And much depends on the type of crime and how long it’s been since the transgression or transgressions. Several legislators have had misdemeanor DUIs, vandalism, public intoxication, suspended license issues, etc from 10 or 20 years ago. Just disclose it & pray its minor enough or long enough that any attempted attack will fall flat. Usually if a candidate has truly turned over a new leaf and put a good length of time behind them, the party rank & file won’t make a big beef about it.

    But some things are just too brutal. Felonies, spousal abuse, etc. And if the behavior pattern is still there, or if it’s only been 2-5 years, then perhaps the person shouldn’t be running in the first place. They’d be better off waiting another 10 years to establish a longer clean track record.


  22. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    What I see here is a genuine opportunity for the Democrats to pick up a seat.

    In 2012 Barack Obama carried House 81, Bill Foster carried his portions of House 81, Democrat Liz Chaplin garnered the most votes in the County Board 2 portions of House 81 and Democrat Sharon Bryant garnered the most votes in the County Board 3 portions of House 81.

    And, strong Democratic precincts consistently had lower turnout than Republican precincts.

    Hopefully the Downers Grove Township Democrats will slate a strong candidate regardless of who wins the GOP primary.


  23. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    The post indicates Matune is 21 y/o. Is that now, or at the time of the “alleged” arrest. Since that took place in 1991, I will assume that was his age when the incident took place. Otherwise, he ain’t even born yet.

    To the post - a poorly vetted candidate implodes - he will become an afterthought after today.


  24. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    === ===doesn’t pass the smell test, is an incumbent extending ANY courtesy===

    Happens a lot more than you’d think.===

    Some of THE best backstories are those of competing campaigns, candidates… and the back channel talks and the quiet courtesy meetings, and a very large portion, are quite cordial.


  25. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    DuPage Dan–

    Why do you think he will implode? Because he passed a bad $150 check when in college and “fled the state to avoid arrest” (aka returned home from college for the summer)?

    Or because he lied about it when asked directly by the Daily Herald?

    Because for me, his misdemeanor from 23 years ago doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal to me. This wasn’t Frank Abernathe kiting checks for years here. He didn’t physically hurt anybody. He wasn’t a gang member slinging dope. People in their teens and 20s do stupid things. And honestly, if the HRO cranked out hit pieces based on that I’d view it as awfully petty and trivial.

    It’s the lying about it to the DH that does him in.


  26. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    And I agree on the cordial back channel meetings. But let’s be honest here. When campaign X has dirt on campaign Y and wants to meet ahead of time, it’s self serving, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Campaign X is hoping that person Y just drops the entire campaign and saves campaign X the headache of running a contested race.


  27. - Knome Sane - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    You have to give Sandack credit here. All he does is say to his opponent “Look, this is out there. It may come out”.

    To which his opponent picks up the ball and runs with it.

    Cue Sandack, clapping his hands together: “Well, my work is done,” says Sandack.


  28. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    === And I agree on the cordial back channel meetings. But let’s be honest here. When campaign X has dirt on campaign Y and wants to meet ahead of time, it’s self serving, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Campaign X is hoping that person Y just drops the entire campaign and saves campaign X the headache of running a contested race. ===

    I thought John Travolta was terrific as Jack Stanton in Primary Colors.


  29. - Frank Abernathe - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Galt @ 12:18:

    Don’t you mean “Frank Abagnale”?


  30. - DuPage Bard - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    I believe this may be the first wake up call for the IFI and others, “I want the rest of all you cowboys to know, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Jimmy Durkin. You all be cool, right on.”
    Credit to Eddie Murphy for the quote.


  31. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    What I see here is a genuine opportunity for the Democrats to pick up a seat.

    Few Democrats will have much “fire in the belly” to fight against one of the only House Republicans to vote for marriage equality. Democratic campaigns in that area are already a tough slog, but working to topple someone who cast a brave vote for civil equality? Talk about unappealing.

    And many of that district’s Democrats are probably proud of being represented by the man in this video: http://youtu.be/iOWP_DJgtpo

    I’m not saying a Democratic candidate could never beat him or that nobody should ever try — but this time around, such a campaign would very likely be a sad waste of time and money.

    – MrJM


  32. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    I’m wondering if the big deal here is the public indecency. Would you want your girls’ gymnastics coach to have a record of not keeping his junk in his pants?


  33. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    @MrJM

    . . . but this time around, such a campaign would very likely be a sad waste of time and money . . .

    Especially as this is a mid-term election.

    And also because these numbers do give Democratic leadership a certain amount of leverage over any GOP incumbent.


  34. - Junior Samples - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    The contrast between the new HRO political operation and the prior ? Night and day.


  35. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    Abernathe @ 12:57pm. Quite right. My bad. Point still stands.

    And justo clarify, although it is self serving, at least it gives the guy a head’s up too. I’m a big fan of proverbial smoke filled rooms and back channels, whether they be cordial or uncordial. If things can get sorted out before bloody or expensive primaries happen, all the better.


  36. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    To clarify, I believe House 81 would be a very real pick up opportunity for the Democrats but “if and only if” the state party were supportive of the effort including money and assistance in recruiting a competent field operation.

    There are plenty of low turn out multi-family precincts that could be organized in strong Dem precincts if money and manpower were available.

    But without statewide party support it probably would be a fool’s errand. Since the Democrats already have a veto proof majority maybe they think it just isn’t worth the effort.


  37. - SonofSuperAbe2014 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    Galt,

    Matune’s press release was a lie, his Daily Herald answer was a lie and his own self admitted public indecency is high irony from a family values candidate.


  38. - Chris Robling - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:31 pm:

    Toast, anyone?


  39. - MH - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:53 pm:

    doing a simple google check, Keith makes $94,000 a year. Wouldn’t a prudent man write a check and make this go away?


  40. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:53 pm:

    Has the House Republican Organization (HRO) issued any sort of comment or statement about this?

    Have they confirmed that they actually intended to run with this story?


  41. - John Galt - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:59 pm:

    SonofSuperAbe2014—

    That’s pretty much the thrust of my question. It isn’t so much that a 21 year old made some poor decisions 23 years ago. It’s how the 44 year old candidate is handling (or rather mis-handling) it right now.

    And yes, often times family values candidates can get labeled as hypocritical if they violate their own proffered standards. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. If it’s done in a context of “When I was younger I did X, which I learned was wrong and it made me miserable. That is why I straightened my out and am now advocating Y.” In that context, rather than being a blow-hard politician lecturing from on-high, the candidate instead is saying, “Hey, I’ve been there man…and trust me, this is other way is the way to go…”. It’s a very different vibe.

    The problem is, Matune doesn’t seem to be doing any of that. And it appears as if the only motivating factor for wanting to now “amend” his Daily Herald profile is that he realized people were going to find out anyway. But before the Sandack sit-down, he was happy to just lie about it and hope that it never came up.

    Ergo, “toast.”


  42. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 7:59 pm:

    I still haven’t seen any confirmation that Minority Leader Durkin and the HRO was planning on dropping this bomb. Maybe my Google skills are weak.

    Can anyone link to a statement or comment from the HRO?


  43. - Bill White - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 8:04 pm:

    Also to, I seem to recall that the Illinois Policy Institute tried to raise a furor over a 20 year court case involving Bob Rita.

    How are these instances different?


  44. - Reader - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 8:43 pm:

    Really can’t understand why no one has called out Sandack on his conflict of interest. He served in the IL Senate and Mayor of Downers Grove at the same time. No way can you convince me that the interest of Downers Grove and the remainder of the district were always the same.


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