was my reaction when I read former campaign manager Kieth Liscio’s press release about suing his former employer, 8th District GOP candidate Joe Walsh.
Back in 1982 when I unsuccessfully ran for Congress against incumbent U.S. Representative Robert McClory I was similarly sued. ( I carried McHenry County; McClory won the larger Lake and Kane Counties.)
Ray Pempek was my campaign manager. Funny guy. He’d hold my 24-toed gray cat Bijou up by his front legs, saying, “Dancing Cat.” (Keely Cat would not stand for that.)
He sued me claiming he had not been paid what his contract stipulated.
His attorney put him on the stand before Judge Michael J. Sullivan, where he laid out his case.
Upon cross examination, Pempek was asked if he performed the duties outlined in the contract, e.g., preparing the daily schedule, writing press releases, stuff like that.
Apparently he answered in the negative too many times because, when my attorney asked for a directed verdict, the judge granted it.
In a directed verdict, one side of the case says the other side has not proved its case well enough to merit putting on the other side.
This was the second such suit I’ve been involved in. When I won the 1966 Republican primary for McHenry County Treasurer by 72 votes out of almost 12,000 cast with a spread of 277 votes among the candidates, the second-place finisher sued for a recount. My attorney, Stan Narusis and I sat in the old second floor courtroom of the Woodstock Square Courthouse listening to the evidence. (Actually, we had more evidence of strange occurrences than the opposition, having had poll watchers in polling places where the judges had never seen them before.)
After the opposing counsel had completed his presentation–presenting absolutely no evidence, just argument–to Lake County Judge Glenn Seidenfeld, I leaned over to Stan and said, “He didn’t present any evidence. Why don’t we move to dismiss?’
Stan did and Judge Seidenfeld, who died at age 94 in 2008, dismissed the case. Maybe the then-Establishment thought I was so young and naive that I would agree to a recount once sued.
In any event, below is Lisco’s press release. Below it is Walsh’s response.
JOE WALSH SUED BY FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER
Suit Alleges 8th District Candidate Owes Former Friend $20,000
Morton Grove, IL — Today, Keith Liscio, former campaign manager for 8th Congressional District candidate Joe Walsh, sued the Walsh campaign for non-payment of $20,000 in campaign management services. The suit was brought by Mr. Liscio in conjunction with his firm Patrickson-Hirsch Associates in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Municipal Department, Second District.
The suit alleges that Mr. Walsh hired Liscio to perform campaign management services in August of 2009, repeatedly paid for those services late, and eventually stopped paying altogether. When the total amount owed exceeded $20,000 in December of last year, Mr. Liscio left the campaign. Despite repeated attempts to resolve the matter and collect the debt, the Walsh campaign has refused to pay.
According to Mr. Liscio, “It is with deep regret and sadness that I take this action today. I’ve tried to work out a payment plan with Joe both before and after my departure from the campaign and fully expected him to live up to his commitments to me and my family. I’ve known Joe Walsh for over 14 years and am very disappointed that he has failed to meet this obligation. I’m only bringing suit now as a last resort – he just refused to make a sincere effort to ensure payment of what was owed to me despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on other campaign expenditures.”
Liscio and Walsh met in 1995 when Walsh first ran for Congress in the 9th Congressional District against Sidney Yates. Liscio volunteered for the campaign and eventually rose to the position of Communications Director where he brought Walsh’s campaign to national prominence. When Walsh was weighing running in the 8th vs. the 10th District last year, he again sought Liscio’s advice and eventually hired him to run the campaign. Liscio developed the campaign strategy which positioned Mr. Walsh as a “Tea Party” candidate, hired staff, and was in charge of executing the campaign plan prior to his departure.
To see a copy of the complaint filed with the court, contact Mr. Liscio at (847) 772-0525.
Here is 8th congressional district Joe Walsh’s response:
Regarding the suit, I’m saddened and surprised. Here’s the story and it’s not much of a story: I have a dispute with an ex campaign consultant over the performance of his work, we’ve been negotiating for over a month trying to come to a settlement, it appears he’s filed suit today.
This type of thing, as you know, goes on often in campaigns. I think it’s really regrettable that he decided to file suit a week and a half before the election and then reach out to the media to try and gin up a story. Seems like he’s trying to impact the election which just doesn’t seem right.
It’s an inside baseball story. We’re buliding a grassroots movement to take back this district and as of now, it appears we’re in the lead. Was hoping to settle something with Mr. Liscio, but as of now, its strictly a legal matter.
I’m focused on winning this campaign.