* Back in May, Julieus Hooks signed a nominating petition for the Libertarian Party. The Republican Party attempted to kick the Libertarians off the ballot and hired a lawyer who hired a private security firm to help with the challenge.
That “help” included sending visibly armed private investigators to the homes of petition signers…
“On or about July 20, 2014, I was exiting my house when a tall Caucasian man and a woman approached and startled me. The man had a gun, which was visible. They told me that the woman who had circulated the petition sheet that I had signed had violated the law because she had obtained too many signatures and committed fraud. I was then given a piece of paper and told to sign.”
Sarah Dart, who was paid to circulate petitions for the Libertarians and obtained Hooks’ signature, told me a similar story. Dart says a private investigator named Carlos Rodriguez contacted her, asking about a missing girl who knew someone she supposedly knew.
She believes the story about the missing girl was a ruse. When she met with Rodriguez, Dart says he confronted her with a stack of petitions and asked her to admit that the signatures for the Libertarians were obtained fraudulently. She refused, and the state’s hearing officer later found that her signatures were legitimately gathered.
Dart says Rodriguez displayed a holstered gun when he met her. He gave her a business card showing he works for Morrison Security in Alsip. The company’s owner is the Palos Township Republican leader, Sean Morrison.
Morrison has been a Bruce Rauner ally since the beginning.
*** UPDATE *** As YDD notes in comments, these could be Class 4 felonies…
(10 ILCS 5/29-4) (from Ch. 46, par. 29-4)
Sec. 29-4. Prevention of voting or candidate support. Any person who, by force, intimidation, threat, deception or forgery, knowingly prevents any other person from (a) registering to vote, or (b) lawfully voting, supporting or opposing the nomination or election of any person for public office or any public question voted upon at any election, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.
…Adding… Those of you who are defending Rauner and the state GOP in comments should go read the whole Sun-Times story…
A party spokesman confirmed that lawyer John Fogarty hired Morrison Security to help with the case against the Libertarians’ petitions.
“Their private investigators are licensed to carry firearms and often do so in areas they consider dangerous,” Republican spokesman Andrew Welhouse said.
The party clearly defended the practice of sending visibly armed private detectives to peoples’ homes.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Quinn campaign’s response calls for a federal investigation…
“We are deeply disturbed that the Rauner forces are intimidating people with weapons.
“Sending armed investigators to people’s homes in the name of politics is not OK in Illinois nor anywhere else.
“Voter intimidation has no place in our state, particularly with guns.
“This is a serious matter and it should be investigated by the State Board of Elections, Cook County State’s Attorney, and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.”
To be clear, I have heard of private eyes and off-duty cops doing petition work. it does happen. It’s absolutely wrong, however, to send armed people to intimidate voters. And hopefully this blatant example will help end it.