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*** UPDATED x1 *** Legislators behaving badly

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012

*** UPDATE *** Uh-oh

Neighbors of state Sen. Suzi Schmidt claim the lawmaker has been harassing them for more than a year, including a confrontation with their 7-year-old son, according to a no-contact order issued against her in conjunction with her arrest Tuesday.

In the court order, the neighbors claim they received a series of harassing calls, texts and emails from Schmidt starting in December 2010 and continuing until this February, despite repeated requests to stop.

A woman states that on March 19, Schmidt “confronted my 7-year-old son and made inappropriate comments to him about an alleged affair I am having with her soon to be ex-husband,” according to the order. […]

In the no contact order, the neighbors also assert that, on June 2, Schmidt “trespassed on our property, removing property from our yard and discarding into the swampy cattails and then proceeding to damage personal property.”

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Oy

State Sen. Suzi Schmidt, who faced questions last fall of abusing her political influence during a domestic dispute, was arrested Tuesday on charges of damaging her neighbor’s bag of feed, according to police.

Schmidt was also charged with criminal trespass to property and was served with an emergency stalking no-contact order, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office.

Schmidt’s Lake Villa neighbor had warned her to stay off his property in the recent past, and the sheriff’s office obtained a warrant for her arrest last week after she went back on his property and damaged the bag of feed, police said.

“They can warn you, you are not welcome here, then if you violate that, they can have you arrested,” said Lake County sheriff’s Police Chief Wayne Hunter. “There has to be some type of forewarning.”

* Ramifications? Maybe

Schmidt’s arrest makes her the second sitting member of the General Assembly to be embroiled in an ongoing criminal proceeding.

State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) was arrested in March as part of an undercover FBI sting that allegedly nabbed him accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for writing a letter of support on behalf of a purported daycare operator seeking a $50,000 state grant. Charged with bribery, Smith faces possible expulsion from the Illinois House.

News of Schmidt’s arrest traveled quickly in political circles, with one senior party official saying privately that this latest development warrants Schmidt’s resignation and harms GOP efforts to hold on to the Lake County Senate seat now being fought for by Republican Joe Neal and Democrat Melinda Bush.

“Her entire situation is just tragic,” said Neal, the GOP nominee who won his primary with Schmidt’s backing. “I have no comment on whether she should resign or anything beyond that at this point.”

State Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, said Schmidt’s arrest — after the regret she expressed for her conduct in the 911 recordings — is jolting.

“The thing that surprises me is she did what she did with the 911 and all of that, and I know Suzi has repeatedly said to me she regrets that she did that, that she wishes she could take those words back,” Link said. “Doing something like this, well, it surprises me something like this could happen.”

Link said he did not think Schmidt’s arrest, based on the scant information released by the sheriff’s office, would be enough to warrant action under Senate rules to launch disciplinary proceedings akin to what Smith is facing in the House.

“She didn’t embezzle anything. She didn’t steal anything. I don’t think this is a Derrick Smith type of thing,” he said.

* Background

This latest incident comes on the heels of a very public domestic dispute with her now estranged husband. Late last year 911 tapes were made public where Schmidt could be heard telling the dispatcher that she was the former County Board Chairman and to “ignore her husband” who had called police after a dispute. Schmidt then announced that she would not be seeking re-election. Robert Schmidt told the Chicago Tribune that he has since moved out of their home and that they are in the middle of a divorce.

A spokesperson for the state Republican staff told WLS News that lawmakers would be dealing with the matter.

Do you think she should be forced out?

* Meanwhile

Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield ran their private businesses out of the offices of a crooked government contractor, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

State Rep. Edward Acevedo and state Sen. Tony Munoz won’t say why they had desks and computers for their businesses in the Southwest Side offices of Azteca Supply Co., whose owner and her husband await sentencing in a minority-contract fraud scheme.

The two Chicago Democrats — who each hold the title of assistant majority leader in the Illinois Legislature — have never listed the 4500 S. Kolin Ave. address on any business filings with the state of Illinois. Nor have they reported any business ties to Azteca on the financial disclosure forms that they are required to file each year with the legislature.

But an Azteca employee-turned-government-informant told the FBI that Acevedo and Munoz kept the desks and computers for their businesses at Azteca’s offices, according to a recently unsealed search warrant that led to the indictment and convictions of Azteca president Aurora Venegas and her husband, Thomas Masen.

The informant told federal investigators that the two lawmakers “acted as consultants/lobbyists” for the crooked contractor, according to a sworn statement FBI Special Agent Julia E. Meredith wrote to obtain the search warrant for the July 17, 2008, FBI raid on the offices of Azteca, which got millions of dollars in work from the city of Chicago and was the largest female-owned subcontractor on Mayor Richard M. Daley’s O’Hare Modernization Project.

Despite that sworn statement, the FBI did not search the desks belonging to the two legislators because they were “not believed to maintain business records of Azteca.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

38 Comments
  1. - amalia - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:13 am:

    but a good lesson in what can happen to an evil neighbor!


  2. - mark walker - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:23 am:

    Schmidt has some personal issues, but not professional ones.

    The other two guys — the documents were circa July 2008 and we’re hearing about it now? Is something ongoing, or is it just kicking around in some old trash?


  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Sen. Schmidt should probably seek some counseling, given the circumstances. Looks better for the judge.

    Sens. Acevedo and Munoz might want to lawyer up, given the circumstances.


  4. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    Sens. Acevedo and Munoz, it’s interesting but I doubt anything is going to come of it.


  5. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:38 am:

    Schmidt should either resign or finish up her term, but any sort of action to force her out by the legislature would be very concerning. Even though I believe D. Smith to be guilty, I still struggle a politically motivated legislature overturning the will of the voters. So in Suzi’s case, which does not involve corruption, its even a scarier thought.


  6. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:39 am:

    I think Schmidt should resign and seek professional help concerning her erratic and often hostile behavior. She has nothing to lose, her political career is over, and needs to focus on her legal problems.


  7. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:40 am:

    There seems to be some sort of personal breakdown underway. The correct thing to do is to follow the example of U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who after a series of incidents last week has taken medical leave to take care of his issues. If medical leave is not available as an option to Sen. Schmidt, a resignation would be the classy thing to do. She is only in office for a few more months anyway. Maybe removing the stress of being a public servant would help.


  8. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:43 am:

    The bit about Acevedo and Munoz shows a lot of smoke. It should be investigated further.


  9. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:44 am:

    So here’s the problem with being a sympathetic liberal: When Sen. Schmidt had her blow-up with her husband last Christmas, I thought she should deserved a little slack, given that she was under enormous emotional stress. Lots of people apparently agreed, so Sen. Schmidt continued to serve.

    There were two lessons she could have learned from this experience: 1) That all of us know what it’s like to break down in times of great trouble, and that we all share a basic humanity that crosses partisan lines, or 2) That when you’re a State Senator, you can do any dang thing you want to, any time something upsets you, without any fear of consequences.

    Class, which lesson did Sen. Schmidt learn?


  10. - cermak_rd - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    Damaging a bag of feed? What did the animals do to her?


  11. - Richard in Lake County - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:01 am:

    Schmidt should step down. Her personality problems are extreme and not seperable from her professional life. I work with constituents in her district. Schmidt never responded to calls from them. When one of them finally found her in Springfield about a routine constituent problem, she told her “I don’t help people like her son” and “I have a solution for people like your son…to kill them.” Her son is in prison. He had been having extreme mental health disorders and had been hospitalized in an outside hospital for an unsuccessful suicide attempt. The family was seeking help to request a transfer to be closer to him, which all legislators know is a routine request.


  12. - Fed up - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    Acevedo has been a disgrace for a long time. Good thing Madigan thinks he is of the proper charecter to sit in judgement of indicted house member Smith. schimdt needs to go she is also an embarrassment to the state.


  13. - King Louis XVI - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    –√Two of the most powerful legislators in Springfield–

    LOL.

    That description is bizarre.

    Their leadership titles are little more than decorative ornaments embossed on their business cards without granting them any real power to make them bosses of anything.


  14. - Coach - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    Somebody should tell Sen. Schmidt a mugshot at a police station, following an arrest, is not a time to smile pretty for the camera. At least for the rest of us, this is a serious, even grave, occasion. The good senator might show a little understanding of that by toning down the peppy.


  15. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    What is wrong with some people? Suzi Schmidt is a former county board president/chairwoman and a current State Senator and she acts like the people you see on “Cops”. Soccermom, I agree that people can snap if pressures become too much, but I expect more from our elected officials and highly-paid bureaucrats. There is no place in politics for those actions. I don’t think the Senate should expel her but they need to censure her or at least ensure she seeks guidance.


  16. - Slick Willy - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:52 am:

    It sounds like Sen Schmidt really needs some counselling. Once is a mistake and may be worth forgivness. Twice is a pattern that needs to be addressed.


  17. - reformer - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 12:19 pm:

    Smith has been arrested and charged.

    Schmidt has been arrested and charged.

    Smith, a Democrat, is facing House discipline that could lead to his expulsion.

    Schmidt, a Republican, is facing no Senate discipline.


  18. - reformer - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    Both Smith and Schmidt have brought discredit to their offices. Only one faces discipline. A double standard?


  19. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    She needs some professional help. Let the voters decide if they want to retain her when her election comes back around.


  20. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    I feel bad for Senator Schmidt. None of us knows what has gone on behind closed doors, except for a few details. However, she clearly is having difficulty in making rational decisions concerning her personal life. One can only assume this would carry over to her professional life. She should resign. She clearly needs help and should focus on her mental health and well being.


  21. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 12:57 pm:

    I don’t think there is a double standard at all with Smith and Schmidt. One is accused of misusing his position or official misconduct. The other is accused of personal misconduct, not unlike a legislator who gets a DUI.

    Selling your office = chamber discipline. Having some personal issues that result in charges = we’re all human beings and have our own faults.

    Also: she’s not running for re-election, while Smith is, so there is more need for the House to take action against Smith.

    Not all arrests of state legislators are equal.


  22. - 10th Indy - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 1:14 pm:

    pepsi on keyboard moment of the day:

    “Not all arrests of state legislators are equal”


  23. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 2:11 pm:

    Smith is accused of taking a bribe.

    Schmidt is accused of harassing little kids.

    I think the second is far worse.


  24. - dave - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    **Schmidt is accused of harassing little kids.**

    Don’t forget she’s also accused of using her elected position to influence law enforcement.


  25. - Fed up - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 2:49 pm:

    Reformer,

    Madigan could step up and do his job as speaker of the house and put together a committee of house members to investigate Schmidt. Why don’t you call his office and demand it.


  26. - Fed up - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 2:49 pm:

    Sorry that would be Cullerton could step up.


  27. - Lil' Enchilada - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 4:13 pm:

    Confronting a 7 year old child over what mommy might be doing with her husband? This woman definately needs some mental help.


  28. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 4:29 pm:

    -Damaging a bag of feed? What did the animals do to her?-

    Nothing. As in similar cases, it was the old bag that attacked without being provoked and using excessive force. She simply tried to fight back.


  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 4:37 pm:

    (That wasn’t funny either. *shake head*)

    Where is Oswego Willy, Rich?


  30. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 6:02 pm:

    Here …Nothing funny when a child is involved…


  31. - reformer - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 7:56 pm:

    47th ward
    Sen. Schmidt was recorded trying to use her political clout to stop the county sheriff from responding to her husband’s call for help. Don’t you consider that abusing one’s office?


  32. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 8:20 pm:

    =Here …Nothing funny when a child is involved…=

    I obviously didn’t see the update Willy, and realized that I hadn’t seen your handle for a while and was concerned about you.


  33. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 8:39 pm:

    ===Don’t you consider that abusing one’s office?===

    Sure I do, but I think it’s still a far cry from what Derrick Smith is accused of doing. If any lawmaker who used his or her clout with the police faced expulsion from the House or Senate, they’d never have a quorum.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 9:34 pm:

    ===I obviously didn’t see the update Willy, and realized that I hadn’t seen your handle for a while and was concerned about you.===

    Not a problem. Figured you hadn’t seen the update too.

    I will be to full “snark” strength, this is Illinois politics …but this situation is sad and disturbing.

    Thanks for the shout-out.


  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 13, 12 @ 11:18 pm:

    Oswego Willie is the coolest cat in the barn. That’s all that needs to be said.

    Next question, is:

    “Michael, why are the drapes open?”

    You’re led to believe that Fredo opened the drapes, and then murdered the assassins from New York.

    Makes no sense.

    Fredo was weak, and he was stupid. He could not have done it.

    It’s a huge hole in the screenplay, but Francis and Mario were cashing checks from Paramount, gambling and doing blow in Vegas at the time they wrote II.

    So maybe cut them some slack.


  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 12:34 am:

    =I will be to full “snark” strength=

    ;)


  37. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 8:44 am:

    Thanks for praise wordslinger … In my estimatation, I still still behind you by a wide margin.

    To the question …

    Usually, after more than a few adult beverages, and after about a solid 90 minutes into a Gofather v. Godfather II discussion, it always comes down to Fredo, the curtains, and the “guys from New York” as the difference in the screenplays.

    I have tried to defend the “II” screenplay, and tried to dismantle that same screenplay with that sequence as it’s Achille’s Heel. The bottom line is your feeling on Fredo;

    Did Fredo want to be the “Don” so bad he would open the curtains, and then feel bad enough to “catch” the “guys from “New York”, or …

    Is the Fredo we saw in “I” who couldn’t protect “Pop” and is Fredo the same guy who couldn’t pull the trigger and then we expect Fredo to pull the trigger on the assasins?

    “II” overcomes quite a bit to get an Oscar(tm), but is it better than “I” in its purity of story?

    “One more round for the table.”

    Then the Fredo/blinds discussion is worth a few more beverages.

    Thanks again wordslinger … and i will be around Anonymous ..


  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 14, 12 @ 8:50 am:

    ===Is the Fredo we saw in “I” who couldn’t protect “Pop” and is Fredo the same guy who couldn’t pull the trigger and then we expect Fredo to pull the trigger on the assasins?===

    Should read …

    Is the Fredo we saw in “I”, who couldn’t protect “Pop” and take out Don Corleone’s assasins, the same guy who could pull the trigger NOW? …and then we EXPECT and accept Fredo pulling the trigger on the assasins?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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