Mysterious "Southwest Suburban Homeowners Advocates Association" campaigns for Bremen's Crotty
A new group of "advocates" has announced its support for Bremen Township Supervisor Maggie Crotty's re-election.
Or has it?
The "Southwest Suburban Homeowners Advocates Association" sent letters this week to thousands of homeowners in Oak Forest, Midlothian, Tinley Park, Homewood and other communities, proclaiming support for the liberal Democrat Crotty and warning that a failure to re-elect her would result in township government catastrophe.
But Crotty's opponents say there is no "Southwest Suburban Homeowners Advocates Association" and that the group was made up by her longtime campaign manager, Ron Szabo, who works for Bremen Township.
A web and state corporate database search found no group of that name, or anything resembling it.
“It’s not signed by anyone, there’s no return address, this is very clearly a fraudulent letter,” said Crotty's opponent, Don Sebek. “Its outrageous and typifies how they play the game. This letter shows how far they will go to keep a hold of their stranglehold on the township.”
Sebek, whose "Bremen Families First" party slate is challenging Crotty and her fellow incumbents, received a letter himself. So did David Schnell, who is running for Highway Commissioner, a position Szabo held before he was caught conspiring with his wife, a Cook County employee, to fraudulently take property tax breaks on his Oak Forest home.
The letter uses arguments similar to those used in other letters posted by Crotty's campaign committee on Facebook.
It says “a majority of The Families First Party candidates have a direct link and sit on the board their “privately owned” business and taxpayer funded organizations with its President a resident of Indiana.”
On Facebook, Crotty's campaign recently wrote, “a majority of candidates that would be deciding how your tax dollars are spent belong to the same privately operated and publicly funded organization that has refused to provide any evidence as to why it was demanding additional funding.”
Sebek believes the posts are written by Szabo.
“Its the same verbiage Szabo uses,” Sebek said.
Neither Crotty nor Szabo could be reached for comment on the letter.
Sebek believes the letter constitutes mail fraud.
Sebek said the Families First Party has filed a police report with the Oak Forest Police Department. The department did not return a call from South Cook News.
If the letter was sent by Szabo on behalf of Crotty and her slate, the lack of disclosure would seem to violate state campaign finance laws.
Illinois State Board of Elections rules declare that "any committee that makes an expenditure for any kind of communication directed at voters and mentioning the name of a candidate in the next upcoming election must ensure that the communication clearly identifies the committee as having paid for it."
"This applies to any committee that pays for any part of the advertisement, including its production and distribution. This disclosure is not required if the item is too small to contain it."
The Families First Party immediately posted on their Facebook page, informing their supporters that the letters were fake.
“With no morals or ethical leadership the "TAX CUT" party has decided to send out a FAKE and FORGED letter from a fictitious Homeowner's Association,” the Facebook post stated.
Sebek hopes the letters will not cause harm to the Families First Party in the election next Tuesday but rather will bring to light corruption with the incumbent party.