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Rep. Rita has a ghost issue

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018

* From last September

A lawsuit brought by a former primary challenger to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan can continue after [federal Judge Matthew F. Kennelly] ruled Wednesday he’d previously overlooked allegations that Madigan used his authority and influence to damage and discredit his opponent.

Jason Gonzales alleges that the veteran South Side lawmaker put up “two sham candidates with Hispanic last names to split up the Hispanic vote” in order to defeat him in the March 2016 primary, according to the ruling. […]

The decision also indicates an interest in digging into the time-honored tradition of placing sham candidates on a ballot. […]

Citing precedent set in a 1973 case involving a Democratic primary for a state Senate seat, Kennelly notes that, “Gonzales alleges that defendants registered these sham candidates to split up the Hispanic vote and prevent the election of a Hispanic representative. This is sufficient to allege purposeful discrimination.”

Because of that ruling, I don’t know of any other alleged Chicago-area put-up candidates this year, except in Rep. Rita’s race.

* Last night

A Democratic challenger in the race for the 28th House District — one of the most expensive in Illinois this primary season — is accusing incumbent state Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita of benefiting from election shenanigans straight out of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s playbook.

Mary Carvlin, a Spanish teacher from Blue Island, Illinois, says the race’s third contestant Kimberly Koschnitzky is a “ghost candidate” put on the ballot by Speaker Madigan’s political organization solely to draw votes away from her campaign. Having a second challenger could split the vote between the two women and help Rita by default. […]

After Carvlin accused the Speaker of supporting the race’s third candidate earlier this year, NBC 5 Investigates has confirmed several volunteers and donors from the 13th Ward Democratic Organization — Madigan’s political operation — helped Koschnitzky gather petition signatures to get her onto the ballot.

The Illinois State Board of Elections documents reveal at least six of Koschnitzky’s petition circulators — William Nambo, Ronald Crane, Steven Hensley, Frank Varnagis, Steven Szalko Jr. and John Grzymski — have been affiliated with Madigan’s political operation. In addition, State Board of Elections campaign contribution reports show each of them has donated to the 13th Ward Democratic Organization between $200 and $2,900.

Nambo and Crane were confirmed by multiple sources in and outside of Madigan’s political organization as having been precinct captains for the 13th Ward in the past.

Mary Carvlin reported having just $550 in the bank at the end of December and has reported nothing since then. The alleged ghost Koschnitzky has not filed any paperwork with the Board of Elections as of this writing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:28 am:

    Koschnitzky took the time to request the petitions of the other three Democratic filers. That seems a bit unusual for a sham candidate.


  2. - Casper - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    How is the discrimination claim made by Gonzalez supposed to apply to Carvlin? Neither her nor the other opponent are Hispanic or any minority for that matter. Are they going to claim Rita was conspiring to prevent the election of a white woman?


  3. - anon2 - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    If Carvlin had more money, maybe she could take the matter to court.


  4. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:34 am:

    If this has any legs at all, it won’t stop sham candidates. It will just mean that they will need to knock on a few doors, and maybe raise and spend a couple dollars.


  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:38 am:

    “Alleged”? What other info do we need?


  6. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:45 am:

    Corrupt Mike at the helm, he tries to decide who represents you by playing his games by his rules.


  7. - Graybeard - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    Rita has been doing this for as long as he’s been in the House. A true hack, still living off of his father’s political success.


  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    ===Rita was conspiring to prevent the election of a white woman? ===

    No, just a woman.


  9. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    So, a “sham” candidate is one who receives help circulating petitions, but a “legitimate” candidate is one who raises $550?.

    The law allows for invalidating signatures of people who sign petitions for different political parties in the same election (Paging Dr. Patton) and invalidating signatures gathered by petition circulators who circulate for different parties. Makes sense. But, here, the court is considering prohibiting the circulating of petitions for two candidates in the same election? Did they even circulate for Rita or is it ‘guilt by association’? Should it even matter? What if a precinct committeeman had no preferred candidate in a race and circulated for two candidates. Would that be prohibited? This sounds crazy.


  10. - Contempt kid - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:40 pm:

    I live in Orland. I’ve seen Kim’s signs. None for Carvlin. Not sure if that means anything.


  11. - anon2 - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    I think Rita’s goal is to prevent anyone from beating him, regardless of the candidate’s sex, race, religion, or national origin.


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    Curious to see how this might proceed in the federal courts.

    Will federal judges be ruling on the motivations/viability of candidates who’ve met the requirements to get on a state ballot?

    By what standards? Money?

    Believe me, I’m familiar with the tradition of ghost candidates. I’m just trying to foresee a federal judicial role.


  13. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 12:52 pm:

    The Gonzales case will barely pass legal muster, but it will pass. It is just disgusting to see this sort of thing happening so blatantly and so often. Madigan is the master of this move.


  14. - Been There - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:24 pm:

    == I’m just trying to foresee a federal judicial role.===
    I am too. But believe me Judge Kennelly is no fan of the “system”. He is fair but this could set some precedent.


  15. - Hyperbolic Chamber - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    What about candidates who are supported by forces allied with another party? Will they be considered “sham” candidates? This slope isn’t just slippery, it’s sheer.


  16. - ILDemVoter - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 1:39 pm:

    - wordslinger -
    I believe the legal issue is with using authority to influence for discriminatory purposes. By intentionally adding candidates for the purpose of dividing a protected class’s vote is questionable behavior (Race and Sex are both protected classes). Based on what I’ve read, there is also a conspiracy element, but that’s way harder to prove. The federal judge allowing this to go through is problematic because there may be discovery taking place within Madigans organization and that could open up another can of worms with related emails and documents being subpoened.


  17. - Texas Red - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 2:00 pm:

    Allegations of harassment in his organization, and now the prospect of “purposeful discrimination”. The incumbent Dems facing primaries can’t count on leaning on his machine this time around.


  18. - Bobby - Tuesday, Feb 27, 18 @ 7:25 pm:

    When will one or more of these ghost candidates realize that it is the ghost candidate who has the most power in the relationship. All the ghost candidate has to do is threaten to go to the authorities or press to explain how they were coerced into allowing their name to be used.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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