Outrageous voter intimidation tactics in the Illinois race for governor could put the nail in the candidacy coffin of GOP candidate Bruce Rauner. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulus originated the story – a security firm hired by the Illinois GOP has been accused in a criminal complaint of using scare tactics to intimidate petition circulators for the Libertarian Party into signing false affidavits.
Hooks had signed a petition for the Libertarians in May. He recanted his story in the affidavit that the man with the gun got him to sign. But then Hooks swore a second affidavit saying he did not mean what he said in the affidavit for the armed man.
According to the most recent version of his story, Hooks said, “On or about July 20, 2014, I was exiting my house when a tall Caucasian man and a woman approached and startled me. The man had a gun, which was visible. They told me that the woman who had circulated the petition sheet that I had signed had violated the law because she had obtained too many signatures and committed fraud. I was then given a piece of paper and told to sign.”
Sarah Dart, who was paid to circulate petitions for the Libertarians and obtained Hooks’ signature, told me a similar story. Dart says a private investigator named Carlos Rodriguez contacted her, asking about a missing girl who knew someone she supposedly knew.
She believes the story about the missing girl was a ruse. When she met with Rodriguez, Dart says he confronted her with a stack of petitions and asked her to admit that the signatures for the Libertarians were obtained fraudulently. She refused, and the state’s hearing officer later found that her signatures were legitimately gathered.
Dart says Rodriguez displayed a holstered gun when he met her. He gave her a business card showing he works for Morrison Security in Alsip. The company’s owner is the Palos Township Republican leader, Sean Morrison.
The Illinois GOP was concerned the Libertarian candidate for governor would take votes away from gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. Rauner has denied any involvement in the scare tactics but inside sources say his connection to Sean Morrison and Morrison Security is much deeper than the candidate admits.
A criminal complaint has now been filed with both the Office of the Illinois Attorney General and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
In addition to the potential abuse of constitutional rights, section 29-4 of the Illinois Election Code (10 ILCS 5/29-4) makes it a Class 4 felony to use force, intimidation, threat or deception intended to impede the petitioning process.
Could this criminal investigation derail Bruce Rauner’s candidacy? Only time will tell but this account of extreme voter intimidation tactics casts a dark and ominous cloud over his campaign to “shake up Springfield.”
More to come on this developing story.