No surprise, the word from the Johnson v. Link hearing is that Terry Link remains on the ballot. It was a 5-3 vote. Jerry Johnson was removed from the ballot. Our report from the field:
A Long Uncomfortable Silence
In a cramped hearing room where there were only 12 seats for spectators, as opposed to the prior large conference rooms that held as many as 50-75 spectators, the Illinois State Board of Elections, following their hearing, voted to certify Terry Link as a candidate for the State Senate (30th District) as a Democrat.
Voting in favor of certifying Link:
Albert S. Porter (D) Chairman
Patrick A. Brady (R)
John R. Keith (D)
William M. McGuffage (D)
Wanda L. Rednour (D)
Voting against certifying Link:
Bryan A. Schneider (R) Vice-Chairman
Jesse Smart (R)
Robert J. Walters (R)
The hearing began with the recommendations of the State Board of Elections staff attorney. His recommendation was to adopt the findings and recommendations of Hearing Officer Goodman. An overview of the case was briefly given by the attorney. A minimum of 1,000 genuine signatures are required to be placed on the ballot for State Senate. Senator Link filed petitions containing 3,378 signatures. Candidate Johnson objected to 2,393 signatures on various grounds. A record examination lead to the sustaining of objections to 1,660 signatures, and overruling 689 objections to signatures.
Following the hearings held before Hearing Officer Goodman, 1,526 "genuine signatures" remain. The 5 death certificates of those 6 "dead" signatures were never formally introduced into evidence and were objected by the Link attorneys. Over 24 affidavits of those who swore on oath that the signatures on the petitions bearing their names were NOT theirs were also never formally introduced into evidence and were objected by the Link attorneys. The Hearing Officer sustained all objections made. The attorney for the Election Board indicated his concurrence of the recommendations of Hearing Officer Goodman.
Attorney LaVelle on behalf objector Johnson summarized the evidence and stressed that the Harmon v. Electoral Board of the Town of Cicero case was controlling for the law. He stressed that patterns of fraud that are not alleged in pleadings cannot be simply not considered (the case law repeatedly states "cast a blind eye to") as patterns of fraud always emerge from evidence that develops at hearings and not from pleadings or allegations.
The State Board Attorney indicated that he agreed with Link's attorney that to argue and consider a pattern of fraud now in the absence of definitive pleadings would be to catch the candidate by surprise and would unduly prejudice his right of due process and a fair hearing. Left out in this argument was the fact that two agents of the candidate committed these patterns of fraud. So how can one surprise oneself under such circumstances?
LaVelle called the testimony of Knight (I was too sick to be an officer of the Oxford House) incredible and unbelievable (he wasn't sick enough to go out and amass 1,650 "signatures").
Attorney Nottage argued on behalf of Link that the hearing officer heard all the evidence and was in the best position to determine their credibility. He stated that it would be inappropriate for a pattern of fraud to be considered by the full Board of Elections absent any clear pleadings alleging fraud. He argued that during the hearing of December 8, 2007 the Link Campaign was surprised by evidence presented by objector Johnson claiming false addresses, false signatures and a pattern of fraud and was pleased that the Hearing Officer sustained those objections to such evidence. (My note: Again, they were surprised by the activities of their own agents who acted on their behalf?) He argued that Knight's testimony should be understood in the light that he did not see eye to eye and had many physical altercations with the President of the Oxford House (i.e. "the landlord") which explained why no paperwork or physical evidence somehow existed that Knight resided there from 9/07 to 11/07. (My note: Physical fights with the landlord might explain why Knight was not around the Oxford House in 2007).
After hearing the evidence, Chairman Porter asked for a motion:
After TEN LONG SECONDS of complete silence, (and yes, I counted) Commissioner McGuffage (D) moved that the candidacy of Link be certified and the recommendations of the hearing officer be adopted. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Rednour (D). Rednour was in Springfield on videoconference.
On the other cases I heard being ruled upon, only a second or two of silence existed before someone made a motion.
That long silence followed by a 5-3 vote spoke volumes about this unusual matter.
Louis G. Atsaves
PS- According to the Johnson campaign, the "signature" of one dead man was not stricken from the petitions. This dead man signed twice. His "second signature" was stricken but curiously, not the first. Go figure that one out.