Editor's note: The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Judy Cates' campaign withdrew its complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Lodged against Cates' opponent, St. Clair Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, the complaint alleged that McGlynn's campaign failed to disclose a $10,000 contribution from a statewide political action committee, as well as an in-kind contribution related to his Oct. 2 use of a company's jet. Cates's campaign manager said in a statement issued Saturday that the campaign withdrew its complaint over the $10,000 donation, but did not withdraw its complaint over the in-kind contribution. The Record regrets the error.
An Illinois State Bar Association committee has recommended that Judy Cates, the Democratic candidate for the Fifth District Appellate Court, pull one of her television advertisements.
Cates’ Republican opponent, St. Clair Associate Judge Stephen McGlynn, filed a complaint late Thursday with the ISBA Standing Committee on Supreme/Appellate Election Campaign Tone and Conduct, claiming that Cates' foreclosure-focused ad violates ethical rules for judicial campaigns.
In a letter to Cates dated Oct. 26, Robert Cummins, chair of the ISBA committee, wrote, “Because this broadcast ad erroneously states that your opponent's entry of foreclosure orders amounts to “evicting families from their homes,” the Standing Committee recommends that the ad in question be removed from any further dissemination via broadcast or by way of any other channel of communication.”
Cummins added, “Given the pledge that you previously executed and the proximity of the election, we presume that your campaign committee will immediately implement this recommendation.”
Charlie Johnston, a consultant for McGlynn's campaign, provided the ISBA letter to The Record.
The ad at the crux of the complaint states that, “Illinois is No. 1 in the nation for home foreclosures and Appellate Judge Candidate Stephen McGlynn played a major role in getting us there.”
McGlynn “alone has signed more than 2,000 foreclosure orders evicting families from their homes. So many he got himself a big rubber stamp,” the ad states as it depicts a large stack of orders and a hand rubber stamping one of them with McGlynn’s signature.
Paid for by Cates’ campaign committee, the ad goes on to say, “The better choice for families -- Judy Cates. First as a prosecutor and now as a highly-rated attorney, Judy Cates has spent her career fighting for families. Judy Cates for appellate judge.”
Cates’ campaign manager, Barzin Emami, said McGlynn’s complaint with the ISBA committee comes just days after a hearing officer with the Illinois State Board of Elections recommended McGlynn face sanction and fines for failing to report an in-kind contribution related to his use of a company’s jet.
Cates’ campaign filed a complaint with the Board of Elections last week that accused McGlynn’s campaign committee of failing to disclose an in-kind contribution from Luhr Brothers Inc., a Columbia company that let McGlynn use its jet on Oct. 2 to fly to various campaign stops in Southern Illinois.
McGlynn’s committee reported a $2,760 in-kind contribution – listed as the cost of air fare for the fly-around --to the state Board of Elections the day after Cates’ campaign brought the complaint.
Johnston explained earlier this week that the committee reports in-kind donations when it is informed the bill has been paid. Even though the company’s owner pays for use of the plane on a monthly basis, Johnston said, he invoiced the committee early in light of the complaint.
Cates' complaint also claimed that McGlynn failed to disclose a $10,000 donation from a statewide political action committee. Cates' committee withdrew this portion of its complaint "when further information came to light in the process," Emami said in a statement issued Saturday.
He also said that Cates' campaign "won the hearing" before the state Board of Elections on its complaint over McGlynn's in-kind contribution. Emami said a hearing officer recommended that McGlynn face sanction and fines for failing to report the donation associated with his Oct. 2 fly-around.
Emami said the matter will go before the full election board on Oct. 31.
Johnston said Friday that campaign committees that disclose contributions late typically face fines that are no more than 10 percent of that specific donation.
When it comes to McGlynn's complaint against his opponent, Johnston said Cates’ ad is “materially false” because McGlynn has not entered more than 2,000 foreclosure orders and that “a reasonable person would not make such a bogus allegation if he or she simply reviewed” his court files.
When reached Friday for comment on McGlynn’s complaint, Emami said he was unaware of the complaint.
Without seeing the complaint, he said McGlynn is campaigning on his judicial experience and that Cates’ campaign wants everyone to know what his experience is.
After The Record emailed him a copy of the complaint, Emami said Cates’ ad is based on court records that show McGlynn’s experience.
“We have 2,000 foreclosure orders” signed by McGlynn, Emami said.
McGlynn’s complaint contends that Cates’ ad “impugns the integrity and dignity of the Court because it encourages the viewer to conclude that judges have created the foreclosure crisis now gripping Illinois."
“To suggest that the courts have created the foreclosure crisis is like saying the Red Cross creates natural disasters because they are always there for the clean-up,” Johnston said in a statement.
One of the last times the ISBA committee recommended pulling a television ad in a judicial campaign was during Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride’s 2010 retention campaign.
The committee determined that an ad paid for by the Illinois Civil Justice League’s political action committee, JUSTPAC, was inappropriate because it distorted Kilbride’s record by attempting to characterize him as soft on crime and criminals.