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Potential Madigan foe kicked off ballot

Thursday, Jan 11, 2018

* Ted Slowik has a petition challenge story that shouldn’t be missed. It’s about Mat Tomkowiak, who filed to run against Speaker Madigan for 3rd State Central Democratic Committeeman.

Tomkowiak only needed 100 valid signatures, but the Madigan people had whittled his total down to just 107 before bringing in a handwriting expert, 80-year-old Diane Marsh of Westchester

Tomkowiak, who represented himself, challenged Marsh’s credentials, saying some of the professional organizations that certified her skills ceased to exist years ago. Hearing officer Bernadette Matthews, the state board’s assistant executive director, dismissed Tomkowiak’s line of questioning as “speculative” or “lacking foundation.”

Matthews also ruled that Tomkowiak could not submit 38 affidavits he obtained from people who swore that they had, in fact, signed his petitions. The deadline was Friday to submit evidence to be considered at the hearing, Matthews said.

Tomkowiak pleaded that submitting the affidavits prior to the hearing would have allowed the handwriting expert to know which signatures had supporting evidence of authenticity.

“Can you see how that is unfair to me?” he asked.

Matthews deemed the affidavits inadmissible.

“My job as hearing officer is not to rule on the motives or intent of the objectors,” Matthews said.

Across the table from Tomkowiak sat Michael Kasper, general counsel for Madigan’s Illinois Democratic Party. Kasper, wearing a dark suit and bow tie, is a highly skilled attorney who successfully argued the Illinois Supreme Court should strike down the 2016 ballot initiative known as the Illinois Independent Redistricting Map Amendment.

Go read the rest, but (spoiler alert!) it ended as expected today…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Texas Red - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:10 pm:

    Hail to the King !

  2. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    He who represents himself has a fool for a client. Especially if you ignore rules of procedure because you think they’re unfair.

  3. - ChrisB - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:17 pm:

    If only he knew what a Daubert challenge was.

  4. - Too Little, Too Late? - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    If this were a movie, it might be entitled “The Big Fix.”

  5. - State worker - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:21 pm:

    Mat Tomkowiak, you seem like a reasonable and interesting man with good intentions based on life experience. I hope you build power and try again.

  6. - Sue - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:24 pm:

    Hey- but for BS tactics like this we would be saying Barack who?

  7. - Boat captain - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:37 pm:

    You don’t tug on supermans cape.

  8. - paddyrollingstone - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    I think this may have been covered on Cap Fax before but how do run as a Dem for committeeman and run as an independent for Congress, as Mr. Tomkowiak said he was going to do?

  9. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    This is as old school Chicago politics as you can get.

    There’s a charm to it, a living example of Chicago politics.

  10. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:04 pm:

    Oswego Willy-there is no charm to this, there is the feeling of trying to wipe the dirt off your hands but it won’t go. This is when laws are abused to prevent real challenges. Candidates should not have the power to challenge signatures, it’s a clear conflict of interest. That should be the responsibility of the Board of Elections. We should mourn the ongoing lack of democracy in Illinois!

  11. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    Meh, if you can’t get 100 sigs, you’re just goofing around, anyway. No whining.

    An 80-year-old lady ain’t the same as sending armed men to petition circulators homes at night, like Rauner did to intimidate the Libertarians last time out.

  12. - Anon - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    Remember when Trump said he could shoot someone in the middle of 8th Avenue and his supporters would still back him? Madigan has similarly loyal supporters.

  13. - Too Little, Too Late? - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    It can be ugly like when George Ryan’s friends on the State Board of Elections rejected the the recommendation of its hearing officer and tossed a Libertarian candidates off the ballot (invalidating 4,285 signatures without explanation). A series of lawsuits followed, but the election cycle was over and Ryan was elected. The taxpayers ate the bill for defending various appeals.

  14. - frisbee - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    I am with wordslinger on this, guns are different than bow ties.

  15. - Just Me - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    I wonder what government jobs Ms. Marsh and her family members have enjoyed over the years.

  16. - Just Me - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    Adding - I’ll be curious to track the future of those people who had the bravery to sign Tomkowiak’s petitions in the first place.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    ===…there is no charm to this…===

    Bless your heart, irony is lost on you.

    Like when you look at a barn about to fall down… that type of charming…

    … or how missing a tad bit of snark that is seen as admiration. Bless your heart.

  18. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:28 pm:

    ==Meh, if you can’t get 100 sigs, you’re just goofing around, anyway. No whining.==

    The article implies that MT filed 200-300 signatures. The Board had disqualified enough to get him down to 107. The real story is what happened to knock the rest off.

  19. - Rhino - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:30 pm:

    Nothing funny here. Diane Marsh is a real expert. If you go after the king, you need to be well armed.

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:35 pm:

    == Candidates should not have the power to challenge signatures, it’s a clear conflict of interest. That should be the responsibility of the Board of Elections.==

    Who wants to pay for that? The current system relies on someone else to take the time & effort & pay for the expertise.

    The alternative is for the Board of Elections to go over 700+ filings with 10’s of thousands of sheets and 100’s of thousands of signatures. The original signatures are housed at 102 county clerk offices. All this work would need to be done in a couple of weeks between filing and finalizing the ballots.

  21. - JP Atlgeld - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:37 pm:

    Representing yourself against Mike Kasper is like trying to defeat the U.S. Marine Corps with a BB gun.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:48 pm:


    The respect I have for Kasper, his expertise, how he goes about his business… that is true and genuine and without snark attached in any manner.

    The act of removal on its own, the theatre, the process, the “Chicagoing” as outsiders may call it, there’s a charm that is seen…

    … I hope I don’t have to explain that again,

  23. - Roman - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:49 pm:

    If there was some outrageously high signature requirement I would have more sympathy…but 100 signatures in a Congressional District? That’s downright quaint by Illinois standards.

  24. - Swift - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 4:54 pm:

    This begs the question, if Madigan is at all unpopular in the Democratic Party as we are being led to believe by those distancing themselves from Madigan, why wouldn’t an actual attorney appear for Tomkowiak. Wouldn’t someone, either publically or privately, have footed the bill for attorney’s fees?

  25. - cgo75 - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:22 pm:

    Not a Madigan fan here but this is what politically makes Chicago unique, special and as OW says, “charming”.

  26. - the Cardinal - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:33 pm:

    So begs the questionn why would worry about a guy no body knows being on the ballot against the most powerful politico in history?

  27. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:38 pm:

    –Not a Madigan fan here but this is what politically makes Chicago unique, special and as OW says, “charming”.–

    Hardly unique. Two GOP candidates for GA were challenged and got the boot from the primary ballot today.

    It wasn’t Whig party appartchiks who ran the challenges.

  28. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:40 pm:

    –the most powerful politico in history–

    Geez, if you really believe that, Madigan has got you way fooled.

  29. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 7:46 pm:

    ===Hardly unique.===


    But the downstate GOP loves the “She Caw Go” straw man …while it happens downstate… in the GOP too.

    It’s a game. Politics in Illinois has rules, procedures, steps, pitfalls…

    Petitions, challenges they are part of the charm…

  30. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 9:14 pm:

    Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, you do not need an expert to authenticate signatures. The testimony of someone with knowledge of the signature, like the person who signs the document, is just fine. So, the “signature expert” is really just an improperly bolstering non-expert. No Daubert analysis is necessary because it is a subject matter where expert testimony is not necessary.

    Also, if the hearing officer is a fact finder, then her job is to weigh the credibility of any evidence. So, yeah, the motivations or intention of any person testifying are relevant to a credibility analysis. That is what credibility means in the legal sense of the word (and non-legal sense as well actually).

  31. - Rutro - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 9:38 pm:

    I disagree, it’s pretty weak to have your democratic chairman kick off this guy, unless it’s all an act. Which it kind of looks like, who’s Goliath (Kasper or Madigan)? He had to have someone prepare those affidavits, & getting affidavits is like getting 38 teeth pulled (especially in the weather we had), whoever advised him should’ve told him about the deadline for disclosing them. Still bad form by the board to not allow them.

  32. - Phil Dinndren - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 9:59 pm:

    Yeah charming. Sorta like a sleeping cobra.

  33. - Happy - Thursday, Jan 11, 18 @ 10:50 pm:

    The speaker is a great leader.

  34. - Downstate43 - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 8:56 am:

    I have no respect for the inherent bias towards someone like MJM in “system”, but it’s pretty amateurish to go against him with 300 sigs and “but it’s really detrimental to my case” defense. If you’re serious about taking on MJM, you’ve got to be prepared for the absurd obstacles thrown in your way. He shouldn’t have been there with fewer than 900-1000 signatures.

  35. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 9:40 am:

    OW - There is no “charm” to this. Handwriting analysis is pseudoscience. Just more examples of Madigan’s lack of ethics.

  36. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 9:42 am:

    - Chicagonk -

    With respect… sincerely.

    Bless your heart.

  37. - Flynn's Mom - Friday, Jan 12, 18 @ 10:05 am:

    I’m guessing, unlike Rauner,the speaker is in charge.

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