Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Belleville firm that defends county is big contributor to judges seeking to stay on bench

By The Madison County Record | Aug 23, 2016

Law money 13

Becker Hoerner law firm of Belleville, which earns hundreds of thousands a year representing St. Clair County in civil suits, contributed $5,000 each to campaigns of circuit judges Robert Haida and Robert LeChien this year.  

That accounts for most of the money that Haida and LeChien received through individual contributions this year, as of Aug. 1.  

LeChien also received $5,000 from Belleville lawyer Rhonda Fiss and $1,000 from Steamfitters Local 439 in Belleville.  

Haida received $2,000 from the Gori Julian firm in Edwardsville.  

Haida, LeChien, and Chief Judge John Baricevic resigned last year in order to run for partisan election rather than stand for nonpartisan retention.  

Retention requires 60 percent approval.  

Instead of filling their campaign chests, Haida and Baricevic nearly emptied them.  

In March, each transferred $24,000 to the county’s Democrat central committee.  

Baricevic financed his contribution largely with a $20,000 loan to himself.  

Haida used up the remnants of a big campaign fund that he and former judge Michael Cook jointly ran in 2010.  

They raised almost $150,000.  

The Becker firm, then Becker Paulson, contributed $5,000.  

Haida and Cook divided the fund prior to the election, with Haida taking a third, Cook taking a third, and the central committee taking a third.  

Cook and Haida won in 2010.  

Cook resigned in 2013, after his arrest for heroin possession, and he transferred the balance of his portion to a charity.  

Haida gradually spent half his portion, and the party got almost all that remained.  

As of June 30, Haida had $80.20 available.  

Baricevic had $1,701.05 available.  

LeChien had $2,565.95 available, after loaning himself $2,450.  

Thomas Ysursa of Becker Hoerner currently defends county treasurer Charles Suarez against federal suit claiming he rigged bids on delinquent taxes.  

Ysursa defends circuit clerk Kahala Clay against a federal discrimination suit from former employee Kelli Garner.  

Ysursa also defends sheriff Rick Watson in 13 federal suits.       

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