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Ozinga campaign aide charged with harassing Sen. Hastings with obscene images (Updated x3)

Thursday, May 23, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Isabel and I have also been working on this story

WGN Investigates has learned a top aide to a state representative who abruptly resigned in April has now been charged with sending obscene and harassing messages to a rival state senator.

The text messages sent to State Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort) included fake sexually explicit images of Hastings, Gov. JB Pritzker and other elected officials, according to a source.

Timothy Pawula is now charged with harassment through electronic communication, transmission of obscene messages and obscenity, according to Illinois State Police.

Pawula was chief of staff for State Rep. Tim Ozinga (R-Mokena) before Ozinga abruptly resigned without explanation in April as the investigation heated-up.

Ozinga has not been charged with a crime and its unclear if he was aware of Pawula’s alleged actions.

“I’ve been a victim of electronic harassment where someone – potentially affiliated with others – sent me digitally altered, sexually explicit images that are highly offensive,” Sen. Hastings told WGN Investigates.

* Pawula was not Ozinga’s chief of staff when Ozinga abruptly resigned without explaining his reasons. But he had worked in Ozinga’s district office prior to that and is currently listed as treasurer of Ozinga’s campaign committee. He’s also listed as treasurer of Ozinga’s Big Tent Coalition PAC. Ozinga and Sen. Hastings have been political adversaries.

The Illinois State Police opened an investigation after Sen. Hastings filed a complaint. The results of that investigation were then turned over to the attorney general’s office, which ultimate filed these charges in Will County…

720 ILCS 5/26.5-3(a)(1) - Harassment through electronic communication.
720 ILCS 5/26-5-3(a)(3) - Harassment through electronic communication.
720 ILCS 5/26.5-1(1) - Transmission of obscene messages
720 ILCS 5/11-20(a)(1) - Obscenity

Pawula’s booking photo…

* Pawula could not be reached and he has no attorney on file in Will County. Ozinga did not respond to phone calls and text messages, which included these questions…

Did your resignation from the House have anything to do with the charges now pending against Timothy Pawula?

Were you aware that Pawula was [allegedly] sending pornographic images to Sen. Hastings?

I’ll be happy to update with any response. Ozinga has not been charged.

Pawula’s first court date is June 5.

* Meanwhile, Jeff Berkowitz recently interviewed Ozinga and sent out this press release…

Could a scaled-up, empathetic “Big Tent Coalition” fix IL? Could Tim Ozinga, the Big Tent’s CEO, be the IL GOP GOV Candidate to fix IL’s education system, crime problems & lack of growth?

I’m thinking maybe not. Watch the interview here.

*** Adding *** Tim Ozinga texted me this response…

Thank you for reaching out for comment Rich.

I had zero knowledge of the incident and was not aware that any charges were being filed until after I had already retired from the general assembly.

When I did find out about it, I disciplined the employee, he was put on unpaid leave, and justice will be served.

I believe everyone should be held accountable for their actions.

Court records show the ex-wife of powerful Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings accused him of elbowing her in the face in the presence of their small children and harassing, intimidating and threatening her in a series of text messages.

Senator Hastings is unfit for office and was asked to resign by Governor Pritzker. Hopefully justice will be served by the voters of Illinois this election by removing him from office.

*** Adding *** Click here to see Pawula’s notice to appear. Something to note, the date of the offense is November 8, 2022, the day of the general election.

*** Adding *** It turns out that Ozinga put Pawula back on staff. I kid you not. I circled back to Ozinga and here’s what he said…

He was disciplined and is dealing with the consequences of his actions. He is still working under probation/supervision at this point in time.

       

38 Comments
  1. - Bentoh's - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:39 pm:

    Sauerian effort


  2. - So_Ill - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:40 pm:

    When keeping it real goes wrong.


  3. - friendly person - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:44 pm:

    Great work, Ben!


  4. - Walter - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:50 pm:

    I’m not sure what’s more surprising: the stupidity of these actions; Pawula’s mustache; or the fact people still talk to Berkowitz….probably all of the above.


  5. - Neef Jr. - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:50 pm:

    He has collected almost $190k in pay from campaign funds since 2014 starting with Rauner … imagine that.


  6. - NIU Grad - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 3:59 pm:

    “empathetic”


  7. - Long Time Independent - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 4:02 pm:

    Something tells me this might be the beginning of something bigger.


  8. - Cheswick - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 4:14 pm:

    What was he thinking?


  9. - Vincent - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 4:21 pm:

    I wish Mr. Ozinga well in his governor’s race.


  10. - Henry Francis - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 4:41 pm:

    That is a sorry looking justice-impaired individual, but ain’t nothin inpairing that stache.


  11. - ;) - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 4:43 pm:

    I think some very public apologies should be in order…


  12. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:00 pm:

    ==I think some very public apologies should be in order… ==

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out swinging and call the charges “fake,” “a political hit job,” etc.


  13. - vern - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:02 pm:

    What did he think he was accomplishing? Like, what was the best case scenario for this whole scheme?


  14. - Big Dipper - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:08 pm:

    Guy with porn stache sends porn.


  15. - james - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:19 pm:

    oy


  16. - vern - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:54 pm:

    To the update: Oy indeed. There are lots of great times to criticize Mike Hastings. Almost every moment, honestly. But the one exception might be “when Mike Hastings is the victim of a crime committed by your top aide.” These guys got their brains turned inside out by this beef.


  17. - Todd & Margo - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 5:58 pm:

    Does Rep. Sheehan have a comment? He was the candidate running against Senator Hastings during that cycle and was being heavily pushed by Rep Ozinga.


  18. - George Ryan Reynolds - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 6:00 pm:

    Instant Mount Rushmore booking photo for Illinois politics?


  19. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 6:08 pm:

    - Hopefully justice will be served by the voters of Illinois this election by removing him from office. -

    This incident ought to help.


  20. - Watchful eye. - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 6:51 pm:

    How did he discipline him after he left the GA? What am I missing ?


  21. - Pundent - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 7:10 pm:

    Ozinga’s comment reads “I don’t condone this sort of thing but Hastings had it coming.”


  22. - DougChicago - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 7:19 pm:

    Hard to imagine offending Michael Hastings with naughty pictures.


  23. - ;) - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 7:27 pm:

    Tim Ozinga just showed his character, and in doing so ruined his family’s good name and reputation. Shame on him. As the House and Senate take up the Attorney General’s AI generated porn bill and other similar bills, keep the Rep Sauers, and Tim Ozinga and his underlings in mind. Those bills are for people like them and their associates.


  24. - Pumps - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 7:35 pm:

    To the updates…I’m scratching my head as to why he even responded to your request for comment in the first place…not to mention the second time…seems like a case where maybe it’s best to stop talking? The hole keeps getting bigger.


  25. - Pundent - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 7:59 pm:

    And of course Ozinga put him back on staff. He sees his behavior on par with that of Hasting’s which is what his initial comment conveyed. We’ve sadly reached a point where whataboutism is an excuse.


  26. - We’ll See - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 8:14 pm:

    Looking Pawula’s booking photo I mustache ask why Ozinga was compelled to reinstate this guy? I’ll see myself out.


  27. - Long Time Independent - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 8:28 pm:

    Whose staff is he back on Ozinga or Sheehan’s? Ozinga keeping him close it seems like the old saying “ Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”


  28. - Sorokin - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 8:40 pm:

    It gets better when you find out that he is employed with a “shell company” and gets at least 6 digits a year.


  29. - vern - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 9:02 pm:

    === the date of the offense is November 8, 2022, the day of the general election. ===

    So this is what a key Ozinga operative was up to around election day? Hastings might’ve lost if Pawula was doing, you know, campaign stuff instead of whatever this is. Campaign workers, if you ever find yourself asking “should I knock on doors or make explicit deepfakes of my opponent and send them to him,” you have fully lost the plot and should just quit.


  30. - Lincoln Lad - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 10:17 pm:

    Making Hastings a victim is not easy to do, but here we are. Ozinga was right to resign… his decision making is now clearly a wreck. Stop talking, and fade away.


  31. - Soccermom - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 10:50 pm:

    Oh for heaven’s sake. “Court records show the ex-wife of powerful Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings accused him of elbowing her in the face in the presence of their small children and harassing, intimidating and threatening her in a series of text messages.”

    a) a real apology does not include a “why he deserved it” section

    b) given the vagaries of grammar, I initially read this as ” the ex-wife of powerful Illinois State Sen. Michael Hastings accused him (Pawula) of elbowing her in the face…


  32. - Big Dipper - Thursday, May 23, 24 @ 11:34 pm:

    The party of family values.


  33. - Steve Polite - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 9:45 am:

    “and harassing, intimidating and threatening her in a series of text messages.”

    Child’s translation: “He did it. Why can’t I?


  34. - Annonin' - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 10:04 am:

    Sounds like time to drop an FOI on Ozinga’s email/text files to see exactly how much he did not know and when he did not know it.


  35. - SWSider - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:02 am:

    Man, I hope Sen. Hastings is okay. His kind heart and gentle soul was wounded, surely.


  36. - Mike - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:45 pm:

    I hope no one looks into who else gave him money. Maybe a mayor in the south suburbs


  37. - Bill O. - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:48 pm:

    Isn’t he working with Tinley Park


  38. - state worker - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 1:42 pm:

    Vern at 5:54pm

    Most hilarious CapFax comment since Wordslinger passed.

    Thank you for an old-fashioned LOL and losing my coffee.


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