Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big Government Claims Illinois School Board Candidates Allegedly Bought Votes With Gift Cards

Big Government's Kyle Olson thinks they found another instance of liberal corruption, revealed by "tea party activists," but how trustworthy is such a damning claim that uses the word "alleged," or any of it's variants, several times?  Olson skimps on the details, even though the activists gathered emails through Freedom of Information Act requests and only offers a couple quotes, most likely taken out of context or fabricated - why else wouldn't he publish the entire messages, especially when Olson states these activists have a "commitment to government transparency and accountability."  They aren't being too transparent themselves.

Olson wrote the following:
In the Grayslake, Illinois School District 46, three tea party members decided to take action by running for three available seats on the school board this spring. I wish more would do the same thing.

Their opponents were two incumbents with strong teachers’ union ties. One of the incumbents, Mary Garcia, also serves as the teachers’ union president in neighboring District 30. The other, Susan Fecklam, reportedly ran a coordinated campaign with Garcia.

The incumbents were obviously concerned about the presence of the tea party candidates on the ballot, and what they might do to the union agenda if they were elected.

So what did the incumbents do? They allegedly broke the law, or violated school policies, by using school email accounts to promote their campaigns, and by bribing 18-year-old students to register to vote, on the presumption the kids would vote for them.

These alleged misdeeds were discovered by Lennie Jarratt, founder of the Lake County Tea Party, through a freedom of information request. He sought and received more than 300 pages of school emails that he believes proves the two candidates, as well as the District 46 superintendent, crossed the line during the recent campaign.
So basically a founder of a tea party organization believes he sees wrongdoing.
Jarratt said he learned about the alleged misdeeds when he was told that Garcia emailed a state official from her District 30 account, asking for a campaign contribution. That led him to file the freedom of information request, which led him many other Garcia emails.
Jarratt was "told" there was an email asking for a campaign contribution, but what does Olson post on Big Government?

In an email to School District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll, Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barkley and several union leaders, who for some reason remain nameless, Garcia wrote, “I think that all members of both unions should be appraised of this information. There will be no collective bargaining with these three (tea party candidates) on the board. I am very afraid that Sue and I will not have the funds necessary to fight a ‘party.’”

Do you see a request for money anywhere in the above quote?

How about this one:
“Anything you spend counts toward the $1,999.99 that you and Mary would be allowed to spend,” campaign manager Alex Finke allegedly wrote. “The only way around it would be to lie and pay me cash. Then I could claim that I am volunteering for you.”
If the email was from Alex Finke, as mentioned in a FOIA request, then why is Olson saying "allegedly?"  Also, this campaign manager contacted the individual, not the other way around, and clearly stated the legal thing to do - they would have to be an idiot to outline illegal activities in a public email.
The fourth, and perhaps most disturbing email was allegedly written by Fecklam to Garcia at her school district address. Fecklam bragged to Garcia about her efforts to bribe 18-year-old high school students who live in the district to register to vote before the school board election.

It is a felony to offer bribes to anyone for voting or registering to vote, according to Jarratt.

“Don’t let them turn us in; gifts to register to vote is probably illegal! I did offer Erika (Garcia’s daughter) more gift cards if she can gather up even more friends!” 
In the first sentence Olson claims the email was "allegedly written," but in the second sentence he states Fecklam "bragged" about bribing an 18-year-old.  Which is it?  Is the email allegedly written or is written?

Also, why is Olson taking a tea party activist's word for what a felony is?  Why wouldn't Olson, who presumably thinks of themselves as a journalist, actually research what constitutes a felony in Illinois?

Check out these laws in the Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools.  Do you see any felonies?

Basically, all the information Olson has on this matter comes from the Lake County Tea Party's website, and they offer no additional information - just the same vague alleged quotes.

Olson also references a Chicago Daily Herald article as stating "a large group of parents and concerned citizens showed up at the school board meeting to complain about the alleged campaign abuse," but there is no such article on the Chicago Daily Herald - the link supplied by Olson leads to a nonexistent page and any search of the event yielded zero results (except for other websites that copied Olson's post).
“You dishonor this community,” parent Joan Siefert reportedly told the pro-union candidates at the meeting.
Doing further research, it appears this concerned citizen Joan Siefert is associated with the North Illinois Patriots.  Someone by the name of Janet Johnson claimed to have been working with the Illinois tea party group stated on a 912 site they were working with Joan Siefert last year.

Here is video from the North Illinois Patriots identifying Siefert as a tea party volunteer:

It appears Joan Siefert frequently attends school board meetings, as evidenced by North Illinois Patriot video footage, where she makes accusations across the board, from cronyism to lack of transparency.

Do you think she was biased?

Oddly, there is video of Siefert at numerous other board meetings and events but not for this most recent one where, especially where there was such a contentious and serious issue at hand and there was reportedly a large turnout of "parents and concerned citizens," but doing further research, I had came across another tea party video associated with the Lake County Tea Party, pretending to be a newscast, that stated nineteen people were in attendence.


Hardly a huge turnout - probably took all the tea party volunteers on hand to fill that room.

None of this seems to matter though - the tea party was victorious in wining two of the three seats up for election, including Mary Garcia's spot, but that doesn't mean the tea party can continue to make countless allegations of wrongdoing to secure their positions - that is the kind of stuff (fear and anger) that drives their supporters to the polls.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts and experiences in relation to this post. Remember to be respectful in your posting. Comments that that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted.