Illinois State Board of Elections Invalidates 38% of Gaffney Petition Signatures

From the campaign to elect David McSweeney State Rep., 52nd District…

Barrington Township: The Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) decision today regarding my objection to Representative Kent Gaffney’s petitions was very encouraging despite the decision to allow Mr. Gaffney to stay on the ballot for now. The ISBE struck a total of 399 petition signatures and the Hearing Officer concluded, “The evidence established that Alan Hill did not circulate some of the sheets or parts of some of the sheet even though he signed as circulator on those sheets.” Alan Hill was paid by the Gaffney campaign and is the father of a government staffer who worked very closely with Kent Gaffney.

We’re no longer arguing about the major facts of the case. The Hearing Officer has sided with our evidence on the petition circulator issue. We’re now primarily arguing about the number of additional signatures that should be struck. Kent Gaffney filed 1,059 signatures and the State Board determined that he now has only 660 valid signatures. We strongly believe that there was a pattern of fraud and that additional signatures should be invalidated to bring Representative Gaffney below the minimum requirement of 500 valid signatures. Therefore, we are going to appeal the ISBE’s decision to keep Representative Gaffney on the ballot to the Cook County Circuit.

My objection was filed on the basis of 41 affidavits signed and attested to by citizens of the 52nd District claiming that the person who circulated the petition, and signed an oath swearing that he was the circulator, was in fact not the circulator. Additionally, 13 of those 41 individuals signing those affidavits identified two state workers as the circulator. One of the workers is currently working for the Gaffney campaign.

I am calling on Springfield insider Representative Kent Gaffney to apologize to the citizens of the 52nd District for his own behavior during this crisis. Rather than taking responsibility for the misdeeds of his paid staffers, he chose to attack the veracity of the affidavits that were collected and thus questioned the veracity of the signers of those affidavits. Instead of waiting for the evidence and the results of the trial, Mr. Gaffney effectively attacked his constituents who signed the affidavits and sent out statements such as the one issued on December 17th, 2011:

“This is a phony objection by the McSweeney campaign that lacks any supporting evidence. These reckless allegations are made without any supporting affidavits or statements. I am confident that the Illinois State Board of Elections will find no merit in these reckless claims.”

Next we heard from Mr. Gaffney’s attorney in a Daily Herald blog entry on December 23, 2011:

Now we have — John Countryman, a former state lawmaker and former chair of the State Board of Elections, is the attorney representing Gaffney in his case. “I think it’s meritless,” Countryman said of McSweeney’s challenge. “I think it’s phony.”

On December 31, 2011 Mr. Gaffney sent out a press release attacking me personally for my decision to challenge his petitions:

“Regarding the outrageous and baseless claims against my petitions, David McSweeney is clearly abusing the objection process in order to smear my name and harass my campaign supporters. These Chicago-style political tactics have no place in a Republican Primary.”

Contrast Mr. Gaffney’s outrageous statements and his lawyers’ statements with the statement made by the hearing officer after hearing the evidence:

“…the candidate {Mr. Gaffney} failed to establish that they {the affidavits} were lacking in veracity. Accordingly, it is my opinion that the Objector {David McSweeney} successfully established that while Alan Hill signed certain sheets as circulator, he was neither the person who handed those sheets to the signer nor was he present when some of the petition signers affixed their signatures to those petition sheets.”

My decision to take this issue to the Circuit Court is based on the evidence presented and I believe that a pattern of fraud existed in the circulation of many of Mr. Gaffney’s petitions and, unlike Mr. Gaffney, I take these issues seriously and with the respect that they deserve.

In addition to the filing of an appeal, my campaign will continue to actively cooperate in the investigation of the government time issue. We have been providing information to one of appropriate investigative authorities and will soon make more detailed information available to that authority and other prosecutorial authorities. To be clear, the Hearing Officer and ISBE didn’t make any ruling on the validity of our government time charges. Instead, the Hearing Officer and ISBE accepted Gaffney’s argument that the “electoral board has no jurisdiction over the issue of whether the signatures were gathered during state time or with state resources.” Gaffney’s legal argument is that petition signatures should not be invalidated even if they were collected on government time. Mr. Gaffney led the effort to block our multiple attempts to obtain the government worker timesheets for the state workers and to ask witnesses any questions about the government time issue.

In order to further public awareness of the issues regarding the petition objection, I am posting the “Hearing Officers Report and Recommended Decision” on my website at As a child I was taught a very simple truth: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Unfortunately, the “game” that is being played here involves ethics and responsibility. I feel a deep responsibility to the people of the 52nd District and those who signed those affidavits and I will see this issue through.

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