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Board of Elections spokesman, general counsel not quite on the same page

Monday, Jul 23, 2018

* Tribune

Mayoral candidate Willie Wilson apparently did not violate election law by handing out more than $200,000 in cash and checks Sunday to people at an event he attended with Gov. Bruce Rauner at a South Side church, according to the state elections board. […]

Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said the fact that the money came from Wilson’s foundation seems to allow him to avoid running afoul of campaign finance laws.

“As far as we can see, it looks like he didn’t use campaign funds for this,” Dietrich said. “And there doesn’t appear to have been any quid pro quo, like, ‘Here’s some money, vote for me.’ So from our perspective, it doesn’t look like there was anything illegal about this.”

* Politico

“It looks kind of skeevy,” said Ken Menzel, general counsel at the Illinois State Board of Elections, who noted he did not have enough information to make a call one way or another on the matter. “If that were the threshold for Illinois politics, the chambers would be empty.”

…Adding… From Dietrich…

Rich: I think Ken Menzel and I are answering different questions in the quotes you have. The answer I gave to John Byrne yesterday morning came after I talked to Ken about it. Ken’s comment to Natasha came out of a larger conversation and concerned the general optics of the event.

When the calls started flooding in, I sent out this statement:

    All we know about this is what has been in media reports. If the money came from his foundation and not his campaign committee, and the other details as have been reported are correct, then it likely would not violate the Campaign Finance Act. However, the State Board of Elections does not want to engage in extensive speculation about a situation which could generate a formal complaint for which the State Board of Elections would be the hearing body.

    At this point, no such complaint has been filed.

Matt Dietrich

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 6:10 pm:

    “Looks kind of skeevy”…….yeah, especially without da “buffers”.


  2. - One Time - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 7:02 pm:

    Time for some subject matter hearings.


  3. - Centennial - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 7:08 pm:

    I don’t know Ken, but any GC whose official comment is — “looks kind of skeevy” is my kind of guy.


  4. - PJ - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 7:18 pm:

    Is Dietrich saying the Board’s position is that he literally has to say the words “here’s money in exchange for your vote” to violate a law? Is that really the standard we want?


  5. - Duopoly - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 7:23 pm:

    =Is that really the standard we want?=
    No it isn’t. But unfortunately it is the standard according to the Roberts Supreme Court.
    Basically the USC has legalized corruption in the McDonald case.


  6. - Huh? - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 7:51 pm:

    “It looks kind of skeevy,”

    Technical legal term for “oops”.


  7. - Huh? - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 8:05 pm:

    “Looks kind of skeevy” is polite company version of “summo caeli usque ad pinguis spirat odor mutaret” which is the correct legal terminology.


  8. - Never Know - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 8:12 pm:

    ====Is that really the standard we want?=
    No it isn’t. But unfortunately it is the standard according to the Roberts Supreme Court.
    Basically the USC has legalized corruption in the McDonald case====

    Oh I don’t know. You might want to ask about civil court. Specifically the bankrupt Balmoral and Maywood racetracks. No money exchanged but they went under.


  9. - Henry Francis - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 9:37 pm:

    So the dough didn’t come from the Dr.’s campaign, it came from the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation?

    Which reported raising a grand total of $43,098 in 2016 (most recently filed 990). https://tinyurl.com/ybb5dnvl

    But the Dr. and the Guv have been doing this for years?


  10. - NIU Grad - Monday, Jul 23, 18 @ 10:54 pm:

    So as much as everyone hates canned messages, this is why agencies have designated spokespeople. Having two senior agency officials offering “hot takes” to the media about the story of the day just comes off as unprofessional.

    It’s boring and everyone would hate it, but sometimes an agency has to say: “No comment pending our formal review.”


  11. - Rabid - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 6:49 am:

    Spokesman didn’t comment on Rauner’s cash


  12. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 7:19 am:

    If it isn’t bad enough to have political candidates passing out cash to voters, we have those responsible for elections in Illinois uncertain if it’s illigal.

    It’s illegal. If you think it might not be, then you are a very sad and very confused human being schooled in law beyond your intelligence.


  13. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 7:34 am:

    You don’t vote for people who do this, regardless of any legal loopholes preventing us from jailing them.


  14. - agree but ... - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 8:50 am:

    “You don’t vote for people who do this, regardless of any legal loopholes preventing us from jailing them”

    Meh. This does not make my top ten list of reasons not to vote for Rauner.


  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 8:59 am:

    Matt and Ken both would’ve been better off to decline comment lest someone bring a formal complaint, but since one of them opined, mebbe it’s best to have them disagree in public so that no one can claim the agency is biased either way.


  16. - Tequila Mockingbird - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 9:05 am:

    Politicians have been handing out money for ever. Some are just better at it than others. Less skeevy, one might say…


  17. - COPN - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 9:07 am:

    @Centennial…Agreed. The true Illinois election attorney group is small so when one of them talk about the game, it’s usually worth a listen. Ken is certainly one of the ones who get it. Here’s another gem that Rich posted a couple years ago…
    https://capitolfax.com/2016/09/26/kasper-speaks/


  18. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 9:09 am:

    “We’re looking into it” would have sufficed for the moment, for both of them.


  19. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 9:13 am:

    Maybe they were hacked by the Russians?


  20. - Joey twoshoes - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 9:24 am:

    Seems like the sorta thing you should get straight before speaking about…


  21. - Curious - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    I think the same agency referred to an SQL injection as a “sophisticated attack” while admitting they had a “hole in their dike that was later plugged” seems a little more than skeevy


  22. - titan - Tuesday, Jul 24, 18 @ 5:59 pm:

    Curious - if you followed closely, the SQL part wasn’t what was the sophisticated part, that was the simple part


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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