Tuesday, February 28, 2012

58th District GOP Wars Continue: Turelli to File Ethics Complaint Against Dr. Mark Neerhof (UPDATED: Neerhof Response and Counterpunch)

Just when you thought the press release war between Republican candidates Lauren Turelli and Dr. Mark Neerhof in the 58th Legislative District (retiring State Rep. Karen May's seat), couldn't get any more contentious, Turelli has just now upped the ante by accusing her opponent of failing to make required disclosures of payments he received in the course of his medical practice. Turelli notes that other doctors who do business with the State of Illinois, such as 29th Senate Candidate Dr. Arie Friedman, have made such disclosures. We are contacting the Neerhof campaign for a response, as usual, so stay tuned...

Dr. Neerhof Fails to Disclose Medicaid Payments to State Officials

LAKE FOREST — Republican State Representative candidate Lauren Turelli announced today that an ethics complaint will be filed against Dr. Mark Neerhof for his failure to disclose Illinois Medicaid payments on his mandatory Statement of Economic Interest form.

“Each candidate for state office is required to answer 8 very specific, financial questions which determine whether you or any entity you are associated with is making money from, and in, the State of Illinois. Dr. Neerhof answered ‘None’. The Illinois Department of Human Services released a list of Medicaid providers that included a payout to Dr. Neerhof of $86,659.00 in 2011 and $71,386.00 in 2010,” said Turelli.

“When confronted with the facts, Dr. Neerhof refused to respond. While he may be able to ignore voters and reporters, he will not be able to ignore the law enforcement officials who will be provided a copy of his Medicaid financial history.

Each candidate completing the mandatory financial disclosure forms provided by the Secretary of State must swear to the following: I declare that this Statement of Economic Interests (including any accompanying schedules and statements) has been examined by me and to the best of my knowledge and belief is a true, correct and complete statement of my economic interests as equired by the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. I understand that the penalty for willfully filing a false or incomplete statement shall be a fine not to exceed $1,000 or imprisonment in a penal institution other than the penitentiary not to exceed one year, or both fine and imprisonment.

"Dr. Mark Neerhof is well known in the community and in the media for his extreme rhetoric. In the past few weeks, Dr. Neerhof’s extreme accusations have reached new levels, having falsely labeled me as ‘corrupt’ and virtually calling me a liar, without any basis other than his imagination,” said Turelli. “Despite his outlandish claims against me, and the obvious fact that he is apparently hiding something from state officials, I will not reciprocate. I will not call Dr. Neerhof ‘corrupt’ or label him a ‘criminal’ or a ‘liar’. I will simply ask state officials to draw their own conclusions from their investigations.”

Turelli added that other doctors doing business with, and in, the State of Illinois, such as Neerhof’s colleague, Dr. Arie Friedman, who is running for State Senate from the same area, have fully disclosed their financial relationships with the government.

UPDATED 2/29/12 12:00 pm: Right on cue, this is the response I received from the Neerhof campaign, along with a counterpunch going back to the "Cambridge" issue; Neerhof is essentially claiming that Turelli's claim to have received a degree from Cambridge was not an isolated incident (you may have to click on and enlarge the picture below to see the example to which Neerhof is referring). Read on below:

I have reviewed my disclosure and it is accurate. With respect to claims about Medicaid payments, I receive no direct payments for services rendered for Medicaid patients. I am a salaried employee of NorthShore University HealthSystem.

As far as claims by my campaign concerning Ms. Turelli, we need use no other words other than her own. Turelli has claimed a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, but the University says that she dropped out “without gaining any qualification…” Lauren Turelli’s claim of graduating from Cambridge is false. She has been making this claim for at least the last 5 years, including in written representations to obtain positions in public service. Attached, for example, is a copy of Turelli’s 2007 application to volunteer for the City of Lake Forest obtained through a FOIA request. Under education, it comes as no surprise that she claimed a Cambridge degree. Those are her words, not ours. We already have enough people in Springfield who don’t tell us the truth; we don’t need to add another.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Duel of Press Releases in 58th Legislative District Escalates; Now It's Getting Personal (UPDATED)

As Team America readers know, 58th Legislative District candidate Lauren Turelli has been challenging her opponent, Dr. Mark Neerhof, on the best way to reform the state Medicare system, with part of that challenge playing out right here on the blog with dueling press releases.

Well, things have now risen to a new level, with Neerhof deciding he's played enough of the defensive game on Medicaid and declining to substantively respond to Turelli's most recent press release, but then going on the attack with a claim that Turelli has misrepresented her educational credentials.

First, Turelli's latest shot on Medicare:


LAKE FOREST – Republican State Representative candidate Lauren Turelli challenged her opponent in the March 20th primary election, Mark Neerhof, to justify why he opposes common-sense reforms to Illinois' Medicaid program that could save Illinois taxpayers over $2 billion per year.

"As the Medicaid rolls skyrocket due to mismanagement and fraud, it's time to implement key reforms to ensure that the Illinois citizens who truly need this assistance are being served, and that taxpayers are not being fleeced," said Turelli. More to the point, Turelli noted that, "my opponent’s refusal to support common-sense reforms that save billions of dollars show he is not the real deal – not a true fiscal conservative."

At a recent candidate forum where Turelli reiterated her support of $2 billion in proposed Medicaid cuts, her opponent said ‘that makes no sense’. Turelli’s proposed reforms will look at all components – providers, patients, managed care, income tests and asset verification – of the broken Medicaid system to achieve significant cost reductions. These reforms and other common-sense measures are estimated to save taxpayers over
$2 billion per year.

"In order to fix Illinois, we need transparency and an end to currying favor with special interest groups. Dr. Neerhof needs to explain why he is opposed to common-sense reforms – a true fiscal conservative will back $2 billion in common-sense cuts", concluded Turelli.

I sent that along to Neerhof's campaign, which responded as follows:

"I received the release from Lauren Turelli's campaign. The release is so false and untruthful that is does not deserve a response."

Neerhof then changed the subject and upped the ante, claiming:

Lauren Turelli Claims Degree From Cambridge Which The University Says She Does Not Have
Lauren Turelli Has Questions to Answer
Lake Forest—Today, Republican candidate for Illinois’ 58th district Dr. Mark Neerhof’s campaign is calling for Lauren Turelli to explain why she has been telling voters since 2009 that she is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, while the school says in a letter "she was unsuccessful in her studies and withdrew."
Turelli, as an unsuccessful candidate for West Deerfield Township Supervisor claimed to have graduated from the University, and she continued to make these claims during her failed run for State Representative in 2010 and to this very day.  Voters are entitled to the truth, and they are entitled to not send someone who misleads voters about their credentials to Springfield.  Clearly, Ms. Turelli’s untruthful claim would make her unelectable in a general election. 
Brad Goodman, an aide to Neerhof’s campaign said, "Lauren Turelli has a lot of explaining to do because the Republican voters of the 58th District want a viable general election nominee.   We have plenty of corrupt people in Springfield who do not tell the truth already, and we certainly do not need any more of them.  It’s unfathomable that Turelli thought no one would ever look at her back ground and it makes a pretty strong statement about her that she has been running with this storyline for several years." 
An Illinois Review article posted on 2/21/12 shows Turelli avoiding responding to this important question and then sending a convoluted response which only seems to show more so that her claim of graduating from Cambridge is untruthful.
In short, Turelli has serious questions to answer, but the answers are simple. Prove you graduated from Cambridge even though the school says you did not, or explain why you have been misleading voters in your campaigns for the last 3 years.

Turelli in turn responded with this statement:

I attended Cambridge University where I fulfilled the requirements for an advanced course of study in International Relations, conducted research and wrote a thesis on U.S. Aid Policies to Israel and Egypt. It has come to my attention that some biographical notes on websites not under the control of my campaign for State Representative may inaccurately reflect my post-graduate work at the University of Cambridge. I am working now to ensure those sites have the proper information.

Got all that? Wonder what's next...

UPDATED: Well, I asked for what was next, didn't I? And so, here's the next salvo coming from the Neerhof campaign:
"Lauren Turelli has misled voters for the last 3 years. She never graduated from the University of Cambridge, even though she repeatedly made this claim on websites and submissions to surveys that were under her complete control, and even on her own letterhead. She refused to acknowledge that she never graduated and that she has no qualification from the University of Cambridge whatsoever. Lauren continues to fail to accept responsibility by admitting she was wrong and acknowledging it was her responsibility and no one else’s. Lauren Turelli insults the intelligence of Republicans and all voters with the statement she released today. We already have too many corrupt politicians in Springfield that do not tell us the truth. We do not need another."

So there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Keith Brin Endorsed by Daily Herald for Lake County Circuit Court Clerk

My friend Keith Brin got the nod from the Daily Herald today in the Republican primary race for Lake County circuit Court Clerk. Says the Herald, "Keith Brin, a Highland Park resident and chief deputy for outgoing clerk Sally Coffelt, acknowledges the need for technological growth but points out that it must be done in a way that is both secure and fiscally responsible. ...we believe Brin’s experience as the deputy clerk and his realistic approach to moving forward with technological advances make him the stronger candidate." Nice.

Coincidentally, Brin is having a "Closing Arguments" fundraiser at Mickey Finn's tomorrow (Monday) beginning at 5:00 pm. See ya there!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dr. Arie Friedman Hits Dem Julie Morrison on Tax Evasion (Evading the Issue, That Is) with New Video (UPDATED)

Dr. Arie Friedman, who is running unopposed as the GOP candidate who wants to take over State Senator Susan Garrett's seat in the 29th Senate District, is coming out swinging against West Deerfield Township Supervisor Julie Morrison in a new video that showcases Morrison's evasion on the very important question of whether she would have voted in favor of the infamous Illinois income tax increase, which jacked up our personal income taxes by 66%.

Friedman's ad is hard-hitting, and is also remarkable given that Morrison does not have a clear shot at the nomination, since she faces fellow Dem Milton Sumption in the Dem primary.

Some of the clips of Morrison in the video are just precious. Here's a sample:

Questioner: ".... I asked you the question about taxes."

Morrison: "You did!"

Questioner: "That was, like, back when you first started."

Morrison: "Right."

Questioner: "Have you thought about that at all? Do you have a position on it?"

Morrison: "I think about it every day."

Questioner: "Do you have a position on it?"

Morrison: "You know....no, I don't. Not that I can share right now. Sorry."

Watch the whole thing - it's under a minute. Frankly, you wouldn't usually believe any serious politician would think he or she could prevaricate on such an issue for long, and actually get away with it before being called out on it... but apparently that's the game Morrison is trying to play.

Most likely, Morrison's plan is to keep mum on this issue through the primary, and hope that no one presses the question, since she can't be caught saying she opposed the tax increase, or would vote against it, say, if the issue of making the tax increase permanent (since it was only supposed to last a few years) comes up, which many expect it will. To do so would give her opponent a clear opening. But, don't be shocked if after the primary, Morrison clearly comes out and takes a stand against the tax increase, just like her mentor Susan Garrett.

Just sayin'.

UPDATED 2/24/12 8:45 am: In today's Daily Herald, the editors came out to endorse Morrison over her primary opponent, Milton Sumption. What's missing from the endorsement?.... that's right, a discussion of Morrison's position on TAXES! The DH lauds Morrison for her supposed commitment to job creation, but how can they do so without asking her about her position on taxes, which are obviously a key component of the overall employment environment? Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Turelli and Neerhof Continue Battle on Medicare Reform in 58th Legislative District Race

So, what do you do if you are running for the Illinois General Assembly, and there simply aren't frequent enough debates scheduled to engage your opponent on the issues? Well, how about a proxy war by dueling press releases? It seems, anyway, that this is the strategy that Lauren Turelli and her opponent, Dr. Mark Neerhof, have worked out.

Think of Team America as no-man's-land on the 58th District front: one candidate sends me a press release, so we send it to the other side for a response. And respond they do!

As before, since we gladly provide this public service, Team America has the first crack at putting these releases back to back to continue the heated discussion about how to best reform the Illinois Medicaid program.

Here's Turelli's next shot:


LAKE FOREST – Republican State Representative candidate Lauren Turelli challenged her opponent in the March 20th primary election, Mark Neerhof, to justify why he opposes common-sense reforms to Illinois' Medicaid program that could save Illinois taxpayers over $2 billion per year.

"As the Medicaid rolls skyrocket due to mismanagement and fraud, it's time to implement key reforms to ensure that the Illinois citizens who truly need this assistance are being served, and that taxpayers are not being fleeced," said Turelli. More to the point, Turelli noted that, "my opponent’s refusal to support common-sense reforms that save billions of dollars show he is not the real deal – not a true fiscal conservative."

At a recent candidate forum where Turelli reiterated her support of $2 billion in proposed Medicaid cuts, her opponent said ‘that makes no sense’. Turelli’s proposed reforms will look at all components – providers, patients, managed care, income tests and asset verification – of the broken Medicaid system to achieve significant cost reductions. These reforms and other common-sense measures are estimated to save taxpayers over
$2 billion per year.

"In order to fix Illinois, we need transparency and an end to currying favor with special interest groups. Dr. Neerhof needs to explain why he is opposed to common-sense reforms – a true fiscal conservative will back $2 billion in common-sense cuts", concluded Turelli.

And Neerhof fires back:
Dr. Mark Neerhof Supports Bold Medicaid Reform
Turelli-Quinn Plan Fails to Address Medicaid’s Problems and Worsens Patient Care
Lake Forest, IL 2/21/12-  Last week Lauren Turelli, Dr. Mark Neerhof’s Republican Primary campaign opponent came out in support of Liberal Democrat Governor Pat Quinn’s Medicaid plan.  Republicans, conservatives, patients and physicians alike have lambasted the Turelli-Quinn plan.  The Turelli-Quinn plan worsens the problems of access to care and Illinois’ unpaid bills.
Under the leadership of Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn 20% of Illinoisans are now on Medicaid.  Just like Quinn, Lauren’s ideas of reform worsen the problems created by the Blagojevich and Quinn Administrations.  Turelli’s comments today claiming that Dr. Mark Neerhof does not support ‘common-sense’ reforms is a foolish accusation from a candidate that does not understand the fundamentals of what Medicaid is and what reform should look like.
Dr. Neerhof has dedicated his career to providing patient care to all patients including those on Medicaid. His plan for Medicaid calls for bold reforms, something that the Turelli- Quinn plan rejects. Medicaid already has 2.5 billion dollars of unpaid bills from last year.  This year, Illinois is expected to have in excess of 3 billion dollars in unpaid bills, and the Civic Federation has recently announced that the total of unpaid Medicaid bills is expected to total 21 billion dollars by the end of 2017. Nowhere in the Turelli-Quinn proposal is there a plan for paying off the state’s Medicaid debts.  These debts must be paid under law along with the ever-compounding interest the taxpayers owe providers each month, when the state misses payments. 
Dr. Mark Neerhof:  "Ms. Turelli claims that I am motivated by special interests. She is right. They are called patients.  Lauren does not understand what the problems are with Medicaid. She does not work within its confines every day.  As a physician, I see the problems in Medicaid and know what must be changed. Unlike Lauren, I do not support the Democrat Governor’s Medicaid plan.  Rather, I support bold reform."
Dr. Neerhof’s plan would provide means-based premium assistance to patients in need to assist them in obtaining their own low cost health insurance policies.  By doing so, we will provide lower cost, higher quality healthcare to the patients that need it the most.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Brad Schneider Claims Big Lead In IL-10 Dem Race, But the Real Story is In the Comments (UPDATED)

The Patch reports on a poll conducted by IL-10 Dem hopeful Brad Schneider, who has been carpet-bombing Dem mailboxes in the 10th District to build up name recognition.

Well, okay, it wasn't really the Patch who "reported" on it, but simply republished a Schneider news pump, which is easy enough to do. In fact, someone at the Patch got ruffled enough at the many accusations in the comments to the article about biased reporting, that it had to point out that it wasn't really a news article, but simply a dump of a presser from Schneider. To be fair, Patch allows this from just about anyone, on both sides of the aisle (including, for example, some by the Bob Dold campaign), but maybe they might want to rethink this policy since they seem to be getting tarnished by folks who assume that since the post is on their website, these kind of posting are somehow 'real' journalism.

Anyway, the Schneider polls claims the following results:

29% - Brad Schneider
14% - Ilya Sheyman
4% - John Tree
2% - Vivek Bavda

However, as many commentors (most of whom appear to be campaign sock puppets from one camp or another), that means that 51% are still undecided, a month out from the election, and after more than 10 mailings by Schneider.

You really need to read the comments on the Patch site (over 50 the last time I checked) to get a laugh out of the proxy knife fight among the supporters of the various candidates. Note that Tree was at a lowly 4%, but Ellen is still in there swinging for him.

I wouldn't get overly excited about this particular poll, since as far as I can tell, no information about margin of error, sample size, etc., was released. So, in other words, no telling how good this info is. And, as the commentors point out, Sheyman has yet to hit the mailboxes in the way Schneider has, so Schneider may have already hit his ceiling, leaving Sheyman no where to go but up.

UPDATE: An alert commentor quickly directed us to Lynn Sweet, whose blog had the information we were looking for, along with a memo from the pollster giving more detailed info: The poll was a telephone survey conducted among 400 likely Democratic primary voters in the new 10th Congressional District of Illinois. Interviews were conducted February 14-15, 2012. The sampling error for this survey is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

400 voters is not a ton, and 4.9% margin of error is on the high side, but I guess we'll wait and see to determine how reflective these numbers are of the Dem primary voters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

32- Year Veteran Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt Endorses Her Current Chief Deputy Clerk, Keith Brin

I got this yesterday from the campaign of Keith Brin for Circuit Court. It's no surprise to people who have been paying attention, but now it's official....

Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt Endorses Keith Brin
WAUKEGAN, IL – Sally Coffelt has officially announced who she is supporting to become the next Lake County Circuit Court Clerk: Keith Brin.

"Keith Brin has been learning the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk for the past 3 years and the voters of Lake County now have a decided advantage in having an experienced candidate running for this very important office. Keith is enthusiastic in his approach to maintaining the court records and has a number of ideas that will continue to provide the taxpayers of Lake County with effective, efficient, and fiscally responsible leadership as the use of technology increases in this process," said Coffelt of her endorsement.

Keith responded: "Sally has faithfully served Lake County for thirty-two years in this position, so to have her endorsement is humbling to say the least. She taught me that the sole focus of an elected official is to be on serving the public and living up to the trust they placed in us with their votes. I look forward to continuing her legacy of integrity and fiscal conservatism while further modernizing the office in order to improve access and efficiency."

Brin, Chief Deputy for the Office of the Lake County Circuit Court Clerk, has most recently led the development of a state-of-the-art Electronic Filing System without the use of taxpayer funds. This system is being heralded as a model for Circuit Court Clerks’ offices nationwide.
Coffelt’s endorsement joins a number of other high-profile endorsements received by Brin, including Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Lake County Clerk Willard Helander, Lake County Treasurer Robert Skidmore, and Lake County Regional Superintendant of Schools Roycealee Wood. In addition, the only Lake County Republican Township Organizations to endorse Primary candidates – Cuba, Libertyville, and Wauconda – have all overwhelmingly chosen Brin.

To see a full list of the endorsements Brin’s campaign has received, visit www.KeithBrin.com and click on the "Endorsements" tab at the bottom.
About Keith Brin:

Keith Brin is the Chief Deputy for the Lake County Circuit Court Clerk. An attorney and business executive from Highland Park, Keith received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Emory University and his JD from the Loyola University School of Law. He is highly involved in area civic organizations, including serving as chair of the Technology Committee for the Lake County Bar Association and as Vice Chair of the Moraine Township Republicans.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dueling Press Releases Show Candidates Turelli and Neerhof Differ on Medicaid Reform in 58th Legislative District Race (UPDATED)

[UPDATE 2/15/12: Today, the Daily Herald catches up to us with a brief article on the issue.]

I received a press release from the campaign of Lauren Turelli, who is running for the Republican nomination for the 58th legislative District, which of course is now held by retiring State Rep. Karen May. Turrelli supports the plan recently unveiled by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn to cut $2 billion from the state's Medicare program. I asked Turelli's primary opponent, Dr. Mark Neerhof for a response, and they were happy to oblige. Needless to say, we have two candidates who seem very far apart on this issue.

So, here is Turelli's press release, followed by Neerhof's response. Remember ya saw it first on Team America. ;-)

Lauren Turelli Backs $2 Billion Cuts as First
Step to Reform Medicaid and Balance the Budget

LAKE FOREST – Republican State Representative candidate LAUREN TURELLI announced her support today for Governor Pat Quinn’s $2 billion cuts in Medicaid as a first step in reforming Medicaid and balancing the budget. Turelli has repeatedly advocated specific reforms to the Medicaid program, including a rollback of eligibility standards to pre-2002 levels, the appointment of an independent auditing firm to identify waste and fraud on a commission-fee basis, and a re-evaluation of provider billing practices and fee payments. A fiscal conservative who is a long-time advocate of Medicaid reform, pension reform and a repeal of the 67% income tax increase, LAUREN TURELLI was recently endorsed by the TAXPAYERS UNITED OF AMERICA-PAC (TUA-PAC) for her efforts to improve Illinois’ business climate.

In making this announcement, Turelli acknowledged that “even though Governor Quinn changes his mind weekly about whether to spend more or spend less, I think all Illinoisans need to immediately lock him into a commitment to reduce Medicaid spending by $2 billion to begin the journey towards a balanced budget”. While two billion dollars a year for four years will only bring the State of Illinois current on its present backlog of bill payments, Governor Quinn’s willingness to put this ‘sacred cow’ on the table represents a major victory in our fight to force the Democrat-controlled government in Springfield to admit that throwing more money at a problem is not going to fix it.”

Turelli explained that “Medicaid was originally designed to provide indigent and disabled persons with access to basic medical treatment and prescription drugs which otherwise would be unavailable to them. Nevertheless, in the last decade of Democrat-controlled government in Springfield, Medicaid enrollment increased by sixty-six percent, resulting in one out of five Illinoisans participating in the program.”

Turelli further noted that “this increase has resulted in Medicaid spending becoming the largest and fastest growing line item in the Illinois state budget. More specifically, from 2001 to 2008, Medicaid spending increased from $8.4 billion to $13.8 billion dollars, or sixty-five percent. In FY 2009, Medicaid spending comprised about 30% of the state’s budget.”

Turelli went on to say that “special interests have driven our state budgets and resulting deficits to such a disastrous level that we no longer have any choice but to institute deep and aggressive reforms to stop the hemorrhaging. Forty percent of our state budget now covers Medicaid payments alone because special interest groups have been calling the shots down in Springfield – a practice I will fight to end by advocating that we cut, cut some more, and then cut some more, until we dig ourselves out of this hole. That means every person or entity involved in the Medicaid program – doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and patients – must join together in sharing the burdens necessary to reform this out-of control program because Illinois politicians can longer protect one special interest group to the detriment of our state as a whole.

The Neerhof campaign responds....

Dr. Neerhof Supports Bold Medicaid Reform
Quinn/Turelli plan tinkers around the edges and ignores fundamental problems

Dr. Mark Neerhof, Republican candidate for state Representative in the 58th district responded today to his opponent’s announcement of support for Governor Quinn’s proposal to cut $2 billion dollars from Medicaid as a first step in reforming Medicaid. He stated that this proposal is the wrong first step.

Dr. Neerhof agrees that Medicaid reform is desperately needed, but we need bold reform, not the type of tinkering around the edges of the status quo that Ms. Turelli and Governor Quinn are proposing. Dr. Neerhof understands we need to provide means-based premium assistance to patients in need to assist them in obtaining their own low cost health insurance policies. By doing so, we will provide cost-effective health care to the patients that need it the most.

Medicaid already has 2.5 billion dollars of unpaid bills from last year. This year, Illinois is expected to have in excess of 3 billion dollars in unpaid bills, and the Civic Federation has recently announced that the total of unpaid Medicaid bills is expected to total 21 billion dollars by the end of 2017. To propose cutting 2 billion dollars from the Medicaid budget when we are already not paying our bills not only does not solve any problems, it actually aggravates problems with access to care. Because of the failure of the state to pay its Medicaid bills, fewer physicians are willing to care for Medicaid patients and many patients cannot access care. To further reduce reimbursements would only worsen access to care for patients that need it the most.

Ilya Sheyman First Up With Video Ad in IL-10; Criticizes Brad Schneider's Republican Contributions in Press Release

Young Iyla Sheyman, the presumptive front-runner in the Democratic competition to take on Republican Congressman Bob Dold in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, is up with a video spot, touting his "American Dream" background story and "progressive" agenda.

Politico describes this as a "persuasion-level buy", but I will confess I don't know exactly what that means. So far, this appears to be a cable TV-only ad.

His top competition, Brad Schneider, has more cash in the bank than young Ilya does right now, so look for a response from Schneider soon, but Sheyman got in first and will get the press pops, so props to Sheyman. Seems Schneider has been playing catch-up from day one since he got in the race after Sheyman, and has yet to break ahead. With barely more than a month left, and everyone's mailboxes about ready to burst with campaign mail, will Scheider be able to stand out andbv pull ahead? We'll have to wait and see.

Sheyman is also pulling no punches against Schneider for his past contributions to Republican Mark Kirk and others, which based on what I'm reading and hearing from the Dems, seemed to be Scheider's big Achilles' Heel at this point. Sheyman's press release that heralded the new video stated plainly:

Sheyman is running against the more conservative Brad Schneider, who has a track record of supporting Republicans in past races. Brad Schneider donated to multiple Republican candidates for Federal office who were proponents of privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare and who opposed the Affordable Care Act. This includes a 2001 donation of $1000 to Rep Mike Rogers (R-MI), a 2002 donation of $1000 to Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN), a 2008 donation of $250 to Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), a 2009 donation of $250 to Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), and over $3,000$ in donations to Sen. Mark Kirk’s Congressional and Senate campaigns between 2002 and 2009.

Love it when those knives come out.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grant Township Lincoln Day Dinner Now Held in the 10th Congressional District!

Yesterday evening, I attended yet another edition of the Grant Township Lincoln Day dinner, which is always a lot of fun. As usual, the room was packed, the food was good, and the politicians were many, since the March primary is just around the corner. About the only Lake County candidate who was absent was Circuit Court Clerk Candidate and current Chief Deputy Keith Brin, who was home sick with the flu. Current Circuit Clerk (of 32 years) Sally Coffelt filled in for Keith during the ubiquitous 'naming of the officials', which was emcee'd by County Board Member Bonnie Thompson Carter. And, boy, there were a lot of 'em.

The keynote speaker this year was State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who was making good on his commitment to talk at this dinner a few years back, but he had to cancel because of his jaw being wired shut due to a mishap while he was on a ski vacation. Rutherford mentioned that he was coordinating the Illinois campaign for Mitt Romney, but he mostly focused on the future of the party. While he commended everyone for fighting for what they believed in (in terms of the 'social' issues), he emphasized that if the Republicans do not want to be resigned to being the party of the minority, they must rally around the common themes of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and lower taxes, and eschew the divisions that arise when Republicans impose a litmus test on candidates based on issues like abortion.

Since the recent redistricting, one big change in Grant Township is that Grant is now in the 10th District, not the 8th. This means that this coming election, Grant will be working to re-elect Congressman Robert Dold, instead of Joe Walsh. Walsh and Dold both spoke, and each commended the other, with Walsh imploring those from Grant to work just as hard (or harder) to support Dold as they did for him, and Dold pointing out that Walsh's tough battle in the new 8th District means that everyone still needs to support him as well.

No door prizes for TA this year, but there's always next year. Here are my pix:

John and Jan Zobus pose with political consultant extraordinaire (according to him anyway) Collin Corbett.

County Board candidate Jeff Werfel, with County Treasurer Bob Skidmore and State Representative JoAnn Osmond.

Here's Jeff again with keynote speaker State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Retired Judge Jane Waller and State's Attorney Michael Waller.

Green Oaks Trustee Dan Sugrue and 8th District Congressman Joe Walsh

County Board Chairman David Stolman, County Board Member Bonnie Thompson Carter, and Congressman Bob Dold.

County Board Members Linda Pedersen and Steve Carlson.

Party hosts Walt and Nancy Kubalanza bookend Dan Rutherford.

County Board Candidate Scott Helton and Moraine Township GOP Chairman Lou Atsaves strike their best 'enforcer' pose. I'm glad I don't owe them money.

My fellow Augustana alumni Kris Duffy and State Senator Dan Duffy.

Congressman Bob Dold and Circuit Court Judge Dan Shanes.

Sheriff Mark Curran and State's Attorney Candidate Bryan Winter.

State Rep. Sandy Cole and Judge Shanes.

Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt and State's Attorney Candidate Louise Hayes.

Long-time GOP leader Bob Churchill, Recorder of Deeds candidate Bob Bednar, and State Senate candidate Don Castella (30th District).

Judge Jimmy Boras and GOP Chairman Bob Cook.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

IL-10 Dem Candidate Aloys Rutagwibira Responds to Citizenship Issue

I got an e-mail from Aloys Rutagwibira in response to our post from a few days ago, which picked up on the Daily Herald story by Russell Lissau which asserted that Rutagwibira was ineligible for Congress because he did not have seven years of citizenship as required under the U.S. Constitution. Here's what he wrote:

Dear blogger at Teamamerica.

I read your blog concerning my constitutional ineligibility to serve in US Congress, that is having been a Citizen of the United States for at lead 7 years. here is what my Certificate of Naturalization says : " Be known that pursuant to an application filed with the Secretary of the Homeland Security at Chicago, Illinois. The Secretary having found that: Aloys Rutagwibira then residing in the United States intends to reside in the United States when so required by the Naturalization Laws of the United States and had in all other respects complied with the applicable provisions of such naturalization laws and was entitled to be admitted to Citizenship, such parson having taken the oath of allegiance in a ceremony conducted by the US district court northern district of IL at Chicago, Illinois on July 06, 2006"

I was compliant with Citizenship requirements and entitled to be admitted to Citizenship in 2005, not in July 2006 when the Certificate was issued. There is no ambiguity in this statement.

By January 20, 2013 I will have over 7 years of Citizenship. I am not a person living in a fantasy world.

Thank you.

Aloys Rutagwibira
and the Campaign to Elect Aloys Rutagwibira for US Congress.

Ahem. Well, first off, thanks to Mr. Rutagwibira for writing in. You are very polite. We're always happy to hear from readers, although you could have also left your message directly in comments. No matter.

As far as I can tell, Mr. Rutagwibira's point is that he was 'eligible' for citizenship before he actually took the oath and became a citizen. Using the date of his claimed 'eligibility' gives you more than seven years until the date upon which he would be sworn in as a Congressman, if elected. I will grant that it may be that the eligibility requirement in the Constitution may in fact only apply as to the date of the swearing in to office, since the language says:

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

In other words, can you collect petition signatures, run a campaign and get elected, as long as you meet the citizenship requirement by the date of your swearing in to office? I think that's an interesting issue that I will leave to the Con Law scholars to debate; unless there has already been a court decision on that or something, which there may well have been already.

But in any case, that doesn't save Mr. Rutagwibira, as far as I can tell, as he still needs to win on his theory that "eligibility for citizenship" equals being a "citizen" under the Constitution to get his seven years by January 2013. Mr. Rutagwibira should consider the fact that, of course, at some date, you are going to 'meet the requirements' for citizenship before you actually take the oath and become a citizen (unless somehow you took the oath of office on the exact first date of eligibility, perhaps). The authors of the constitution knew that, and they did not caveat the requirement with a date of "eligibility," they said you had to be a citizen for seven years.

IMHO, I think Rutagwibira is going nowhere with this contention, but by all means keep at it. The chances of him even winning the primary are tiny enough that I think we're never going to know the answer, at least in this case, since no one previously challenged his petitions on that basis.

And thanks for writing in.

Friday, February 10, 2012

For the Inside Scoop on the IL-10 Primary, Sometimes You Simply Have to Go to A Dem Blog

While I always have some hesitation about linking to Ellen of the Tenth, the counterpart to Team America over in the mirror universe that is the Dem side of the Tenth Congressional District, sometimes to really get the flavor of who's stabbing who in the back on the Dem side, there really is no substitute for checking out what Ellen has to say. After all, as you might expect, not a lot of Dem primary mail shows up at Team America headquarters based on my voting profile, since they are clearly not going to waste a penny on mailing to a 'hard R' like m'self. And while I have been known to show up to Dem events in the past (sometimes just to get a reaction), lately I haven't felt like playing that game, so except for what Russell Lissau tells us in the Daily Herald, one of my best sources is the person who originally inspired me to start Team America, after kicking me off her blog since she couldn't stomach the debate (of course, I am hardly the only Republican that's happened to, just ask Lou Atsaves).

But today, Ellen brings us up to date on the major contenders for the Dem nomination, which are Ilya Sheyman, Brad Schneider, and John Tree.

Boiled down, Ellen's opinion is (my synopsis):

Brad Schneider is really good at sending out mail pieces (although they all apparently sound exactly the same);

Ilya Sheyman is really good at bringing a bunch of high schoolers wearing his shirts to various events (even though they can't vote for him); and

John Tree (although from what I can tell isn't good at much of anything campaign-wise) is just an honest-to-goodness business, military and humanitarian demigod.

Of course, Ellen has endorsed Tree, so you have to take all of that with a grain of salt. But it's really fun to read her cut the other Dem contenders down, and she even takes a few pokes at President Obama for being a disappointment compared to her liberal yardstick (noting especially Obama's new capitulation on the contraception issue). Given that Tree is not nearly as liberal as Sheyman, I wonder what she really thinks of Tree's positions on Obamacare and other Dem causes, if even Sheyman isn't good enough.

Go check it out if you want a few yucks.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lake County Board Candidate Dan Donahue Doesn't Like Him Some Government Golf

Today, Russell Lissau at the Daily Herald takes another look at the contested primary for Lake County Board in District 15, which includes all or parts of Libertyville and Mundelein. Dan Donahue, who is challenging long-time incumbent Carol Calabresa, thinks the Lake County government should dump the golf courses it owns and stop competing with the private sector. Calebresa thinks it's OK for the County to operate golf courses unless it's clear they are a money pit. Both candidates are against building a new course at Fort Sheridan, however.

I've known both Carol and Dan for a long, long time and both are great people and great candidates, but I have to go with Donahue in this race. We need some new ideas and people on the County Board, and Dan's fiscal conservative philosophy and business smarts (not to mention good ol' South Side Irish street smarts) would be a great addition to the Board.

Dan was the clear favorite in the Libertyville Township Republican endorsement just a few weeks ago and gained their endorsement with over 70% of the vote.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Great News for Senator Mark Kirk

The reports today are that Senator Mark Kirk's doctors successfully put the portion of his skull that was removed to allow for brain swelling, back together. I hope this is the start of Mark being able to get on with rehab and get back to full health and functioning.

The party, but more importantly, the country, can't afford to have a guy like Kirk out of commission for too long.

Hurry and get well, Senator!

Monday, February 6, 2012

From the "Doesn't Know When to Quit" Files: Dem Candidate Rutagwibira Vows to Run as a Write-In for IL-10 Race

Call this guy persistent, but even after the Daily Herald unearthed some pretty convincing evidence from the public records showing that Dem candidate Aloys Rutagwibira does not have the required years of citizenship under the Constitution, he still insists on running as a write-in candidate, the DH reports.

Now, to be sure, Rutagwibira was not kicked off the ballot because of the citizenship issue, which was not raised by whoever challenged his nominating petitions (although I'm sure whoever that was is really kicking themselves now). But, why would anyone bother trying to run as a write-in with this issue just waiting to be raised?

TA's sources tell him that Rutagwibria is disputing the claim of the DH, apparently claiming that his years of living in the country legally years before he attained citizenship in 2006 is good enough.

As a public service, we provide the following excerpt from the actual U.S. Constitution, a document that Rutagwibira might just want to try reading someday if he wants to be in Congress:

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

There's lots of ambiguous clauses to debate in the Constitution, but this is not one of them.

This has been a Team America public service announcement.

The Dem field in IL-10 sure continues to do itself proud, doesn't it....?

Cash Dash in IL-59; Voting Records Troublesome for a Few IL-10 Dems

Someone yesterday suggested to me that incumbent State Rep. Carol Sente may be facing a bit of a funding problem come this November when she faces fellow State Rep. Sid Mathias in a race that pits two current legislators against each other. (Two legislators enter, one legislator... well, you know how that works). The issue is whether, in a race that looks like it will probably be very close, will Michael Madigan spend what he needs to in order to ensure a win for Sente in the face of some pretty stiff competition?

Last Friday night, Mathias held a well-attended fundraiser that was planned to raise some big bucks. Looking at the A-1's that have already been filed, it seems like it was a success, and obviously we will have to wait to see the final reports next quarter, but TA understands from the Mathias team that they did well. According to Mathias' end of year report, he had almost $40K in the bank. Sente, on the other hand, had only about $14K available at the end of the same period, and no recent A-1's filed.

Of course, the real issue is whether Madigan will come in full force for Sente -- if he does, Sente will have as much money as she needs. Still, even if Madigan does not come to Sente's rescue with cash or goons to work the district, Sente still has friends, notably some of the local unions.

Sente famously vowed to be an independent voice in Springfield and break up the 'old boys' club' (how's that working out, Carol?). We'll have to see if Madigan is willing to invest heavily on such a self-proclaimed 'independent,' and perhaps more importantly, if Sente is willing to accept the help, if offered.

Meanwhile, over in IL-10, Russell Lissau at the Daily Herald continues to mine the records and reports of the Dem candidates, and talks today about the voting records of the some candidates, such as John Tree and Brad Schneider. Tree doesn't have much of a voting record, especially in primaries, but attributes that to his military service, for which he claims this kind of voting record is not uncommon. Fair enough. Tree probably doesn't have much of a chance anyway, based on polling and his fundraising thus far.

Brad Schneider, on the other hand, seems to be a lot closer to front-runner Ilya Sheyman, with Schneider's poll numbers and fundraising much more in Sheyman's ballpark. Schneider may be confronting many more serious issues with his voting record than Tree, however, as the DH article reveals that he once pulled a Republican primary ballot and voted in that election, and perhaps more seriously, previously contributed to Republican and then-Congressman Mark Kirk's campaign. Based on the report over at Ellen of the Tenth, there are a lot of anti-Kirk Dems for whom that's pretty much the kiss of death.

So, again, it seems like the also-rans are paving the way pretty nicely for a Sheyman victory. If only that comes to pass!....

ADDING.... Let's cut out the name calling in comments. Calling Sheyman a 'commie' was sort of funny, a little, the first time. The 30th time, not so much. Let's move on and spare the ad hominem labeling, and we'll all be much happier. I have my delete key finger warming up, so be warned... (as everyone knows, gratiuitous name calling is allowed here only when I do it, because it's always funny, unless I think your comment is funny.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Congressman Bob Dold Saving His Shekels In IL-10, Waiting for an Opponent to Emerge (UPDATED x2: Hinz Calls Dem Fundraising "Puny"; Now It's 4)

Russell Lissau takes a great comprehensive look today at the fundraising going on in the 10th Congressional District. Congressman Bob Dold is sitting pretty with over a million bucks in the bank that he can save for the general election, since he doesn't have a primary opponent, while the B team over on the Dem side continue to try to out-left each other to please the Dem base.

As Lissau notes, Dold outraised the top two Dem competitors combined:

Ilya Sheyman, a Waukegan resident who at 25 is just old enough to run for Congress, collected $178,904 in campaign donations between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, according to newly filed campaign disclosure reports.

Brad Schneider finished second in the quarterly money race. The Deerfield resident’s campaign committee received an estimated $134,262 in donations.

But incumbent Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth outraised both of them combined, collecting $355,831 in the quarter, records show.

Lissau also notes:

Schneider ended the quarter with about $451,787 in the bank, which made him the best-funded candidate at the start of 2012. The sum includes a $100,000 loan from Schneider.

We all know how 'self-funders' seem to fare in this District -- usually poorly. I also always like to see if guys like Schneider actually spend their campaign account down to the last penny in the final weeks if it seems clear that he's not going to win -- in other words, will Schneider dip into his "own" loan money and put it at risk, as opposed to gleefully running on OPM (other people's money).

John Tree is a distant third in fundraising (but hopefully he'll have enough to pay his high-priced consulting team) and the other two guys in the race appear to be talking to themselves, or something.

UPDATED: Greg Hinz at Crains's also takes a quick look in on the fundraising efforts of the candidates in the 10th, and labels the collective efforts of the Dems "pretty puny" in comparison to Congressman Bob Dold. Hahahahahahha!

UPDATED x2: The Daily Herald reports that the least known Dem candidate, Aloys Rutagwibira, has been kicked off the ballot for not having sufficient valid petition signatures. So much for Russell Lissau's hard work in determining that Rutagwibira was ineligible on citizenship tenure anyway.