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Pritzker campaign claims lawsuit doesn’t get its facts right

Thursday, Oct 18, 2018

* From the discrimination lawsuit against the JB Pritzker campaign

And when they asked why JB Pritzker did not visit their office, they were told that “he’ll visit when they stop shooting.”

Apparently, the Region 6 Office is safe enough for Black and Latino men and women, but not a white man.

* As I told subscribers this morning, the Pritzker campaign kept records of his campaign office visits

The Region 6 office, I’m told, is the one on South Wentworth. As you can see, the campaign claims Pritzker has visited that office four times.

The only two he hasn’t yet visited are the ones which opened in September. His running mate Juliana Stratton visited those.

…Adding… The schedule says he was at the South Wentworth office on July 24th. That address is near Washington Park. Pritzker tweeted the following day to a staffer’s July 24th post…


* Back to the lawsuit

At all times relevant, the JB Prtizker [sic] for Governor campaign has been cesspool of racial
discrimination and harassment.

For example, Kasmine [Calhoun] travelled over one thousand miles to Illinois to work for JB Prtizker for Governor and was one of the few Blacks not herded into POD 4.

In fact, she was the only (and possibly first) Black organizer in Peoria; she was later informed by the campaign that she was hired meet a “Black Female organizer quota.”

Stationed in Peoria, Kasmine was supposed to be housed with a family that was friendly to the campaign. When the family found out Kasmine was Black, though, they denied her housing.

As a result, she was forced to sleep in her car and at the campaign office.

Eventually, Caitlin Pharo found her a hotel in an unsafe part of town.

When Kasmine complained that she did not feel safe there, she was counseled on the “financial budget” of the campaign and told to “make due.”

Even after the chairman of the Peoria Democrats informed the campaign that they could request cheaper rates at safer hotels, therefore not affecting the campaign budget, the Campaign still refused to move her to a safer location.

As a result, she resigned her position.

* Chris Kaergard was recently re-hired by the Peoria Journal Star (hooray!) and the Pritzker campaign gave him hotel receipts and other details

They show that the night before Calhoun’s Sept. 4 start date, the campaign booked a room for her at the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites, 4244 Brandywine Drive, at a cost of $61.56.

The night of Sept. 4, the campaign booked her a room at the America’s Best Value Inn, 104 W. Camp St. in East Peoria, at a cost of $56.44, but the summary says she did not like the facility, leading the regional field director to book her a second room for the night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 200 Eastlight Court in East Peoria, at a cost of $122.08.

The next night, Sept. 5., Calhoun received housing from a supporter.

From Sept. 6 through Sept. 9, the campaign had a room booked for Calhoun at the Super 8, 1816 W. War Memorial Drive, at an average cost of $75.81 for each of four nights.

The campaign says Calhoun then indicated she didn’t want to stay there and brought her complaints to a local official who used credit card points to arrange a room that night at the Candlewood Suites Grand Prairie, 5300 W. Landens Way.

The campaign then arranged a room at the same hotel the next three nights at $119.99 per night.

The next two nights, the campaign said, Calhoun was at an all-staff get-out-the-vote training in suburban Burr Ridge and stayed with all other campaign staffers at the Sheraton Lisle Naperville Hotel.

On Sept. 12, the campaign found and arranged for Calhoun to stay with a Peoria area supporter that evening.

She quit the next day, the campaign says. “Effective immediately.”

* Zorn has more problems

And just because the lawsuit was filed only after the Pritzker campaign did not accede to demands enumerated in a letter sent to it last Friday that included a $7.5 million settlement and a threat to “pursue all available legal remedies” if the parties didn’t come to terms by Monday doesn’t mean that the lawsuit is simply phase two of a brazen extortion plot.

But the demand letter severely weakens the idea that these short-time field organizers are animated by an interest in racial justice as opposed to say, an interest in a significant payday from a billionaire candidate.

The final thing you notice is that there isn’t even an allusion to the existence of documentary evidence of specific problems, specific outrageous behavior and specific attempts to address these issues with Pritzker or members of his team.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

51 Comments
  1. - Former Downstater - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 9:52 am:

    The Calhoun situation reminds me of trying to recruit, train, and house campaign staff years ago. For some of them, the reality of being on the ground far from home in the weird, chaotic nature of a campaign is overwhelming. Real life campaigns aren’t like tv series campaigns.

    I had at least one guy, who was literally staying with my parents, bail after less than a week because the campaign wasn’t what he expected it to be.


  2. - Al - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 9:52 am:

    They use Cesspool in a negative manner. Your nicer exclusive private wine clubs boast about having a Cesspool on the grounds.


  3. - Molly Maguire - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 9:55 am:

    The most damning charge of all: “they are expected to interact with the public” /s


  4. - anon - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 9:55 am:

    this smells real bad. im amazed that JB has made as many visits as he has! I’ve worked on two democratic gubernatorial campaigns, and neither candidate visited field offices. Those visits were typically reserved for senior campaign staff, or a surrogate at best. Also, the candidates spent most of their time in September either doing debate prep, or filming last minute campaign commercials. Multiple field office visits by the candidate are a luxury unknown to most campaigns.


  5. - Sue - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:01 am:

    Yesterday Trib tax return article has an inexplicable issue maybe as big as the toilet story. How is it remotely possible for JB to report 55 million of federal reportable income and pay the IRS the commensurate amount BUT then pay Illinois like 800k in taxes. Rauner had similar income and paid Illinois 2. 2 million. As we all know the Illinois flat tax has few if any deductions. MYbe someone can ask JB if he has an explanation it seems kind of Fishy?


  6. - Almost the weekend - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:01 am:

    Downstater hit the nail on the head.


  7. - Arsenal - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:02 am:

    ==But the demand letter severely weakens the idea that these short-time field organizers are animated by an interest in racial justice as opposed to say, an interest in a significant payday from a billionaire candidate.==

    I disagree, but I accept that that’s a commonly held view.


  8. - Pundent - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:03 am:

    One of the most impressive things in the Pritzker primary win was the sheer size and effectiveness of his organization in the GOTV effort. But anything that large can be come difficult to control and does open the door for opportunists. The complaint reads more like a campaign and the supposed “grievances” in many instances are trivial at best. Couple that with the fact that many of the plaintiff’s are still engaged in the campaign and the whole thing is just bizarre.


  9. - Roman - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:04 am:

    News flash: working as a low level campaign staffer sucks.


  10. - DownstateGirl - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:04 am:

    I do not mean to make light of what may or may not have happened to these staffers, but anybody who has worked a campaign as a cog in the machine has been acquainted with horrible lodging/living conditions and the directive to work or stay in “dicey” areas. I am not saying staffers don’t have a right to complain or to expect their safety come first…but I am saying, the crappy work and living conditions are kind of par for the course. I can’t think of any friends I know of who have worked campaigns who don’t have horror stories about living and work conditions on the trail. Pay your dues and you might end up with a high level staff position when your candidate wins or next time you might be a campaign supervisor/director instead of a regional field operative. None of this is to excuse any harassment. That is unacceptable period. But complaining about living conditions or being asked to walk door to door in dicey neighborhoods while on the campaign sounds like the shared story of every campaign worker I have ever known.


  11. - Arsenal - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    ==I am not saying staffers don’t have a right to complain or to expect their safety come first…but I am saying, the crappy work and living conditions are kind of par for the course.==

    Sure. In fact, *volunteers* are asked to canvass in sketchy areas. And from this complaint, it’s very hard to tease out what is just typical for a crappy job and what rises to the level of legitimate harassment or discrimination. The Plaintiffs may be well served by a motion for leave to amend their Complaint.


  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:09 am:

    It’s a pretty lame shakedown attempt. Slippin’ Jimmy would be embarrassed by the filing.

    My guess is that some rocket scientists calculated a multi-billionaire would cough up $7.5 million just to avoid the aggravation.

    They were wrong. Reap what you sow.


  13. - El Conquistador - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:10 am:

    This whole thing appears to be much ado about minor squirrelly matters. And it’s hard not to see the transparent attempt to extort a “settlement” from Prtizker.


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:12 am:

    They were too busy using loaded words like overseer to get the facts right.


  15. - chuddery - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:13 am:

    ==this smells real bad. im amazed that JB has made as many visits as he has! I’ve worked on two democratic gubernatorial campaigns, and neither candidate visited field offices.=

    Were those candidates self-funders? You free up a lot of time if you don’t have to fundraise.


  16. - Whatever - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:13 am:

    Sue @ 10:01 == How is it remotely possible for JB to report 55 million of federal reportable income and pay the IRS the commensurate amount BUT then pay Illinois like 800k in taxes. Rauner had similar income and paid Illinois 2. 2 million.==

    It’s right there on line 16 of the return. He paid almost $1.6 million in tax to other states on income that was derived from and taxed by those states, but is also taxed by Illinois because Illinois taxes residents on income regardless of geographic source. As required by the US constitution, Illinois allowed him a credit for those taxes in order to avoid having the same income taxed twice.


  17. - Arsenal - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:13 am:

    ==My guess is that some rocket scientists calculated a multi-billionaire would cough up $7.5 million just to avoid the aggravation.==

    Yeah, everything right now seems to be built on pretty serious miscalculations.

    I still don’t understand why the Plaintiffs rushed this.


  18. - TominChicago - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Arsenal - They rushed it because they would have no leverage after the election.


  19. - Generic Drone - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Without any attempt to address this matter with yhe campaign could lessen the plaintiffs case.


  20. - Bobio - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:17 am:

    This is what happens when you crack down on patronage jobs. Your workers just sue you to get their due.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:20 am:

    While the lawsuit itself seems to be a bunch disgruntled moments mismanaged and having to deal with someone with unrealistic expectations of being a field op.

    Breaking it down, to discredit, fairly easily it appears, doesn’t negate the real problem that lead to this ill-conceived money grab…

    … that 10 people, willing to “sully” their own reputations in the industry, decided to put their names to a lawsuit and claim what they did against campaign staff.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.


  22. - ItsMillerTime - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:21 am:

    To me this seems like another battle in the ongoing war between a “do what we need to win” environment in campaigns vs the rising demand to practice what the Democrats preach. Former Downstater and Downstate Girl make good points about how these issues raised in the lawsuit are something most campaign staffers have experienced, but as we have seen earlier this year with the controversy surrounding some of the Speakers campaign staff, there is a growing number of people who don’t want to put up with it.


  23. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    This will be dismissed with prejudice and would not surprise me if J B is awarded attorney fees. This is a shake down attempt and I bet federal court will not look on it favorably


  24. - TominChicago - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    ItsMillerTime - It seems to me that this was an attempt to extort $7.5 million from a billionaire. The complaint is sorely lacking in details, relying mostly on generalized claims of racial discrimination. And it is starting to appear that where the complaint makes specific claims, the records show that it asserts facts that are easily refuted.


  25. - a drop in - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    It looks to me that J.B. Pritzker’s campaign is on top of this, documentation-wise. Not that the Rauner campaign will care.


  26. - Arsenal - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:28 am:

    ==They rushed it because they would have no leverage after the election.==

    Sure they would.

    But I can accept that they didn’t know that.


  27. - Anon0091 - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    This whole lawsuit smacks of “good grief.” I once managed a campaign out of state and was put up in a nasty fleabag hotel for four months in a crappy part of town. Never in a million years would it have occurred to me that I was being discriminated against because I was the only Jew around. And of course I wasn’t. It’s just the nature of the beast.

    Glad the campaign is pushing back against this bizarre attempted extortion. And yea, obviously this isn’t a good look for any of the plaintiffs.


  28. - City Zen - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    So JB and Juliana only visited the Austin office on its grand opening over a year ago?


  29. - GA Watcher - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:40 am:

    Agree with DuPage Saint. A Federal Court judge will not stand for the complaint as written. Will be interesting to see if plaintiffs choose to re-file one with more teeth.


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    The issues are taxes and the map…forget this other noise.


  31. - Former Downstater - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:41 am:

    ==…but as we have seen earlier this year with the controversy surrounding some of the Speakers campaign staff, there is a growing number of people who don’t want to put up with it.==

    ItsMillerTime, if anything untoward, unsafe, or discriminatory happens to any staffer I’m absolutely in favor of them having avenues to have it addressed. And I agree that campaign culture has changed. That’s a good thing.

    My larger point was that sometimes things in campaigns aren’t unsafe or discriminatory, just weird, chaotic, and not what someone expected. At least in the case of Calhoun, in my opinion, that appears to be what happened.


  32. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:45 am:

    –but as we have seen earlier this year with the controversy surrounding some of the Speakers campaign staff, there is a growing number of people who don’t want to put up with it.–

    The difference is, those who spoke out on the Madigan crew didn’t ask for millions in exchange for keeping quiet.

    They stuck their necks out — way out — without the expectation of a dime.

    Let’s not confuse bravery with a shakedown attempt.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:47 am:

    Yes.

    When you sue on the principle, you aren’t looking for cash

    Maybe ask Ole Slip and Sue about suing and “teaching a lesson”


  34. - City Zen - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:53 am:

    Who would’ve thought all you needed for unmitigated proof was to enter random data into a cell on a spreadsheet.


  35. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    I know that Super 8 in Peoria. It isn’t the best hotel in the world, but it is not in a sketchy area. Instead, it is more in a mall-like area, offset from a residential neighborhood. Trip Advisor gives it 4/5 stars, by the way, fairly typical for Super 8’s.

    I get the idea of staff being scared of staying at a fleabag hotel surrounded by drug dealers, but that’s not that Super 8.


  36. - Practical Politics - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    @Robert the Bruce:

    Your description is exactly right. I had to stay there one time because I failed to get my reservations settled promptly for downtown Peoria.
    This Super 8 location is not in a tough inner city neighborhood. There’s a Perkin’s restaurant right across the parking lot and a number of stores close by.


  37. - Juice - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    Robert the Bruce, all of the hotels in the Peoria area where she stayed in are in “mall-like” areas. All pretty well developed. Not going to get much of a local feel there, but there aren’t too many other places to stay either. After those three its Downtown and maybe some places near Bradley (but I can’t think of any).


  38. - NoGifts - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:20 am:

    Robert the Bruce - good fact check. I never even thought of it. Thanks.


  39. - Soccermom - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    City Zen, I’m guessing that they have receipts. Like, literal receipts.


  40. - Matts - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    Meowing kittens gotta ‘Meow’. Slitherin’ lawyers gotta slither.


  41. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    ===random data into a cell on a spreadsheet===

    https://twitter.com/JBPritzker/status/1022148991016988672


  42. - The Most Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:27 am:

    Happy to hear Chris Kaergard is back!


  43. - Simple Simon - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 11:41 am:

    I have personally stayed in 3 of the 5 hotels, and they are not dangerous or in dangerous areas. Not the Embassy Suites, but quite typical of small downstate cities.


  44. - campaign grunt - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 12:59 pm:

    I once lived in a funeral home for 4 months while working on a campaign. Complaining about a hotel. lol


  45. - A Jack - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 1:27 pm:

    I have also stayed at that Super 8 and dated someone who lived not far from there. It’s a normal middle class neighborhood near a mall. And I have been all over Peoria, sometimes late at night, and there really aren’t any areas that seemed unsafe to me. There are areas I would avoid in Chicago, Springfield, and Decatur. But I haven’t found any place I would avoid in Peoria.


  46. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 1:33 pm:

    Doesn’t pass the smell test.

    And…ummm…welcome to the new generation of campaign workers? I sure hope not. #MillennialProblems


  47. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    ===News flash: working as a low level campaign staffer sucks.====

    This, times 10. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but you walk neighborhoods you don’t want to, work insanely long hours when you’re exhausted, stay in the worst possible places and generally eat like crap too.

    The lack of opportunity for advancement claim is hilarious though, especially for folks who weren’t around from the beginning. The only battlefield commissions I’ve ever seen were when top dogs got fired or fried.


  48. - Alcibiades - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    Joe- which is why I’m most curious about Erica Kimble
    Maybe just a hardluck story
    But
    A VP for SEIU Local 1?
    Making 105k in 2016
    Ah folks, she’s no newbie She’s a labor warlord. She would know how to ,Sow dissent, Stoke anger ,And move people to action. Just theory but she wouldn’t be the first big labor leader Rauners people have gotten to turn. Think of Coli’s appointment to the labor board. He was the rat to AFSCME. He delivered the blow of impasse. All the other unions got contracts.
    I would look at Kimble.
    All are patsies
    Except her


  49. - Molly Maguire - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    Calhoun with her hotel room demands sounds like what we in the organizing biz called “a load”


  50. - Soccermom - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 3:39 pm:

    I wish Calhoun could have come to our campaign HEADQUARTERS. There was so much mold in the air that I had a permanent hacking cough for six months, and there was some electrical problem in the bathroom, because you got an electrical shock every time you washed your hands.

    I asked for bottled water to drink because the tap water was so nasty — not just for me, for the whole staff. I was told we didn’t have enough money, so I paid myself for one of those big water dispensers for everybody (except for the campaign’s “chief operating officer,” who wouldn’t pay for safe drinking water.)


  51. - FieldRat - Thursday, Oct 18, 18 @ 4:07 pm:

    The current JB organizers are in for a rude awakening when they join a 2020 presidential race and are sleeping six to an apartment making 2000 a month with no benefits or certainty of how to pay for another box of paper.


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