Crain's blogger/columnist Greg Hinz was quite impressed with the resume of political newcomer, businessman and veteran John Tree, who has thrown his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination for the 10th Congressional District here in northern Illinois; indeed, Hinz gushed that Tree's resume was "right out of Central Casting in the politically moderate, heavily Jewish 10th District."
At first glance, it seems like Hinz was spot-on; Tree is a fairly young, successful businessman (not unlike Congressman Bob Dold, in fact) and veteran, who also seems to be a good fit for the demographics of the newly-revamped 10th District. About the only downside is that he doesn't live there, but heck, that sure never discouraged Dan Seals.
Peel back the onion layers on Tree's resume, though, and some interesting things start to surface.
I found my first hint of tarnish on the shine while looking into Tree was when I was researching the value of his lovely home in Long Grove for the post I put up earlier this morning on whether his wealth was going to be a problem for him among progressive Democratic voters more inclined to vote with the so-called "99%", not the "1%", like Tree. I saw that Tree's home on the property tax bill is in the name of him and his (current) wife; Michelle, but that Michelle had a different last name (Healy).
More looking revealed that Michelle Tree is not John Tree's first wife, and that Tree was divorced sometime around or after August 2006 from his first wife, Lisa N. Tree. The court file in DuPage County is 2006 MR 001089, if anyone cares to look it up.
Also of potential interest is that Michelle Healy was John Tree's business partner before she became his wife, with whom Tree made his fortune in resurrecting an old health-drink brand, Metrecal, which they were promoting as far back as late 2004 and early 2005, according to the Crain's archives.
So what, you say? Plenty of people have unhappy marriages and get divorced, and some get remarried as a result (or because) of an office romance. Could be just what happened here.
But, the interesting thing is that on Tree's campaign website, poor Lisa Tree is nowhere to be mentioned. Rather, the website seems to strongly imply that all of his children are the result of his marriage with Michelle Healy:
John is married to Michelle Tree and they have had five children. Their oldest daughter Stephanie died tragically from an accidental drug overdose in 2011.
At the least, the oldest daughter certainly could not have been the product of the relatively fresh Tree-Healy marriage, contrary to the implication of the website. Why the misdirection?
One other thing of note is that the home John Tree apparently shared with his former wife Lisa in Elmhurst was the subject of a foreclosure sometime in 2006 or 2007 (you can also see that in the DuPage County court records, Case No. 2006 CH 001846). One might wonder why a rich guy like Tree had to lose a home to foreclosure (if that's in fact, what happened) only to wind up in a mansion later in Long Grove.
Curiouser and curiouser, to say the least.
You tell me if for some reason Mr. Tree wants to wash away his prior marital history to Lisa Tree. But as Dem operative David Axelrod knows well, a number of Chicago politicians have seen their political careers implode over what was revealed in their divorce files. It's too early to tell if this could be another one of those cases, but I guess we'll wait and see...