Judy Cates’ campaign on Monday said it was “shocked” an ISBA committee recommended it pull one of its television advertisements without conducting a hearing and has no plans to change the ad.
The ISBA Standing Committee on Supreme/Appellate Election Campaign Tone and Conduct on Friday recommended that Cates, the Democratic candidate in the Fifth District Appellate Court, pull an ad that focuses on her opponent’s alleged record when it comes to foreclosure orders.
The recommendation came about a day after Cates’ opponent, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, filed a complaint with the committee. McGlynn, a Republican, asserts that Cates’ ad violates ethical rules for judicial campaigns and confuses foreclosure orders with evictions.
The ad 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, before touting Cates as the “better choice for families.”
Robert Cummins, chair of the ISBA committee, wrote in Friday's recommendation letter that Cates should pull the ad because it “erroneously states that your opponent’s entry of foreclosure orders amounts to ‘evicting families from their homes.’”
Cummins added in the letter, “Given the pledge that you previously executed and the proximity of the election, we presume that your campaign committee will immediately implement this recommendation.”
Despite the committee’s recommendation, Cates’ campaign said Monday that “the ad shall remain unchanged. We shall continue to show McGlynn’s judicial record of foreclosing on over 2,000 families.”
Cates’ campaign contends the ISBA committee “focused on the narrow issue of whether we should have used the word ‘evict,’ saying that a foreclosure order is not an order of eviction.”
Her campaign asserts that its ad is “entirely accurate on the facts,” “did not reference ‘order of eviction’” and used the term “eviction in the common, plain English meaning of forcing someone from a property.”
“The fact of the matter is that a foreclosure of a property will force the owner from the property,” Cates’ campaign said. “We could change the word ‘evicting’ to ‘forcing’ but it won’t change what happened to more than 2,000 families.”
Cates’ campaign claims that the ISBA didn’t look at the evidence and “failed to allow for due process of law” by not holding a hearing on the matter.
“We were not given any chance to present our case or our evidence,” her campaign states. “We are demanding a Committee hearing where we can present our side and our evidence.”
A section about the committee on the ISBA’s website makes no mention of having to conduct hearings on complaints or any sort of process to appeal its recommendations.
The section states that the Tone and Conduct committee “will consider matters pertaining to campaign advertising” and make a determination.
If it determines that the advertising at issue “is of a type or nature as may adversely affect the reputation or integrity of the courts,” the website states, the committee will notify the candidates of its recommendation.
Since the committee doesn’t have the power to force candidates to pull ads, it appears that its job ended with the recommendation that was issued Friday.
Charlie Johnston, a consultant for McGlynn’s campaign, said Cates’ apparent disregard for the committee’s recommendation begs the question of “how can she fairly apply rules to others as a judge when she won’t even follow them?”
McGlynn alleged in his complaint 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.”
Johnston said in a statement last week that “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.”
The complaint alleged that Cates’ foreclosure-focused ad violates a pledge she signed this year regarding judicial advertising and Illinois Supreme Court Rule 67, which deals governs judicial campaigns.