Decisions handed down over complaints in Fifth District race

By Bethany Krajelis | Nov 1, 2012

The race for the Fifth District Appellate Court heated up last month as both candidates raked in big donations and filed complaints against each others' campaigns.

On Tuesday, voters will decide whether Democrat Judy Cates and Republican Stephen McGlynn will take a seat behind the bench.

Despite each candidate’s claims they are the best one for the job, Cates and McGlynn possess some similarities.

Cates, a Swansea trial attorney, and McGlynn, a St. Clair County Circuit judge, both lost previous races for the Fifth District. Cates lost her bid in the 2008 primary and McGlynn lost his in the 2006 general election.

Both candidates have touted their experience, endorsements and bar association ratings on the campaign trail. They also have taken to their campaign websites and Facebook pages to show their commitment to the community and their families through photos.

In addition, both Cates and McGlynn have filed complaints against each other’s campaigns.

Cates’ campaign filed a disclosure complaint last month with the Illinois State Board of Elections, accusing McGlynn’s campaign of not disclosing contributions associated with his Oct. 2 use of a company’s private jet.

“Unless McGlynn paid for the plane, his failure to disclose this contribution must be considered an intentional and knowing violation of the Illinois financial disclosure laws,” Cates’ campaign asserted in its formal complaint.

McGlynn’s campaign reported a $2,760 contribution from Luhr Brothers in relation to the campaign fly-around the day after the complaint was filed.

It also explained that it didn’t report the contribution immediately because it had not received an invoice from the company’s owner at the time it filed its quarterly report.

Following a closed preliminary hearing on Wednesday, the State Board of Elections determined that Cates’ complaint “was not filed upon justifiable grounds,” according to an order provided to The Record by McGlynn’s campaign.

The order states that “the complaint is dismissed and no further action regarding it need be taken.” It also noted that it did not adopt the recommendation of the hearing officer and general counsel.

Cates’ campaign manager, Barzin Emami, told The Record last week that the hearing officer recommended that McGlynn face sanction and fines for failing to disclose the in-kind contribution related to his Oct. 2 fly-around.

An email sent to Emami on Wednesday seeking information about the hearing was not immediately returned.

The dismissal of the complaint, however, does not preclude the Board of Elections “from determining whether the reporting of the in-kind contribution was timely and to assess a penalty if warranted,” according to the order.

Charlie Johnston, a consultant for McGlynn’s campaign, said last week that campaign committees that disclose contributions late typically face fines that are no more than 10 percent of that specific donation.

Also last week, McGlynn’s campaign filed a complaint with an Illinois State Bar Association committee over one of Cates’ television commercials, claiming the ad violates ethical rules for judicial advertising.

The commercial 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 asserts.

The ISBA Standing Committee on Supreme/Appellate Election Campaign Tone and Conduct on Friday recommended that Cates pull the ad, saying it “erroneously states that your opponent’s entry of foreclosure orders amounts to ‘evicting families from their homes.’”

Cates’ campaign on Monday said in a statement it had no plans of changing the ad, which it described as “entirely accurate on the facts.”

The ISBA committee, according to Cates’ campaign, “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 added, “We could change the word ‘evicting’ to ‘forcing’ but it won’t change what happened to more than 2,000 families.”

Because it was not given the chance to give the committee its take on the matter, Cates’ campaign also said in the statement that “We are demanding a Committee hearing where we can present our side and our evidence.”

McGlynn’s campaign manager, Matthew Pickett, said in a statement released Thursday that “Cates is now 0 for 3” in the last week.

Pickett is referring to the ISBA committee recommendation and the Board of Elections decision on her complaint, which initially included two claims.

The other claim dealt with a $10,000 contribution from a statewide political action committee that was later withdrawn.

“These developments, recommendations and rulings should make voters question whether there is anything more to Ms. Cates’s campaign than attacks,” Pickett said in a statement.

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