County Clerk Candidate Joe Tirio Moves Forward Toward Learning Which Jack Franks Allies, aka, Illinois Integrity (sic) Fund, Sent Out Post Cards Calling Him a Crook with a Secret Slush Fund

Judge Kevin Costello put McHenry County Recorder of Deeds and County Clerk candidate Joe Tirio one court date away form bring able to find out who is behind the anonymous Illinois Integrity Fund.

Thursday afternoon there was a hard-fought battle between Breaker Press attorney Natalie Harris and Joe Tirio attorney Philip Prossnitz.

Breaker Press is the company that printed and mailed six hit pieces depicting Tirio as a masked and gloved “crook” with “a secret taxpayer funded slush fund” during the Republican Primary Election last spring.
After hearing forceful arguments from Harris, Judge Costello ruled from the bench that there was sufficient reason to allow Tirio to have subpoena power to find out who was behind the Illinois Integrity Fund mailings.

However, the Court ruled that Prossnitz would have to modify his pleasings to meet legal standards.

Harris argued that words in political mailings had to be used in their most innocent construction.

She said that “slush fund’s” most innocent meaning was “an unregulated fund.”

Here are the two definitions in Merriam-Webster:

    1. a fund for bribing public officials or carrying on corruptive propaganda
    2. an unregulated fund often used for illicit purposes

The Recorder’s office has an Automation Fund coming from fees paid by those recording documents.

From that fund, he hired four employees and financed a trip to New Mexico to attend an automation conference.

Another argument was that all the statements on the mailings were “opinion,” not “fact.”

Harris quoted cases that said facts had to be presented that showed “an imputation of a criminal offense.”

She argued nothing in the post cards did meet that standard.

“We are missing the critical element.  There has to be an indictable [offense or] moral turpitude punishable by prison or death.”

Judge Costello noted that Breaker Press alleges that the flyers are opinion, not factual.

He agreed that the word “crooked” in and of itself was not a factual statement in a political campaign, but more an epitaph.

He found the mast “derogatory, but also vague, a connotation protected by political speech.”

Going through five of the six mailings, the Court told the wording related to the slush fund and that it was financed by tax money.

Referring to the two definitions of slush fund, Judge Costello said, “The Court is not convinced that is an innocent construction”

Focusing on the second definition, he said the “unregulated fund” should “consider in its entire context.”

Referring to the photoshopped masked candidate, he continued:  “I don’t know how the Court could construe that as an ‘unregulated fund.'”

The implication, he continued, was that the slush fund was “used for illicit purposes.

“It cannot be innocently construed.”

He referred to the piece’s message as “defamation per se, a lack of integrity in carrying out [Tirio’s] public office.”

However, he ruled that Breaker Press Attorney Harris had a good point with regard to the case’s pleading.

The Judge noted that the case had a Catch-22 aspect.

Tirio needed subpoena power to discover who is published the mailings and find their motive.

On the other hand, Tirio was supposed to show how “unknown defendants knew or should have know” of the nature of the fund.

Adding to the pleading that all of this information was a matter of public record and that a failure to look at the public record is indicative of the actual malice is what the Judge requested.

“We view it as a solid victory,”Prossnitz said, “and the result of a well-reasoned and through opinion by Judge Costello.”

The next court date is September 14th, by which time Prossnitz will have re-written the pleading to conform with the Judge’s wishes.


County Clerk Candidate Joe Tirio Moves Forward Toward Learning Which Jack Franks Allies, aka, Illinois Integrity (sic) Fund, Sent Out Post Cards Calling Him a Crook with a Secret Slush Fund — 20 Comments

  1. All citizens of McHenry County should demand that those responsible for the despicable ads about Tirio be discovered and made public. It would seem that Tirio then could have legal recourse for defamation of his character.

  2. If a group that makes political claims is anonymous, how can they have merit or ‘Integrity’ as their name falsely suggests.

    Never have I seen this kind of money spent in McH County to keep an honest Joe out of office.

    That’s very telling of the element behind this.

    Everyone who knows Joe, knows he’s about a stand up of a guy as they come.

  3. Alexa extrapolates its data from the browsing habits of people who have installed certain extensions in their browsers.

    It is notoriously unreliable on lower traffic sites.

    According to Alexa, rankings beyond ~100k are not statistically meaningful.

    According to your link, McHenry County Blog is ranked ~743k.

    The only way to get an accurate reading of the traffic here would be for Cal to release his logs.

  4. Sure, let us pretend that Republicans in this county have never used questionable political tactics….. waste of resources.

  5. Can you remember when Republicans interfered with a Democratic Party Primary Election?

  6. This is a pretty landmark decision.

    Political campaigns have sunk further and further into the muck in recent years.

    This type of campaign ad, however, is pretty standard in state legislative and congressional races.

    What has happened is that these tactics have now been brought to McHenry County which has not seen them before in local races.

    I wonder who is doing that????

    Maybe “Moderate” can tell us, once he stops trying to divert attention away from the issue being discussed.

  7. So, IT expert Billy Bob says Cal is so inconsequential that the biggest aggregator of site traffic can’t measure his irrelevance!

  8. You know someone is hitting a raw nerve when “Moderate” shows up and tries to divert attention onto something that is completely irrelevant to the subject at hand…

    Oh look, a kitten!

  9. Here’s how I know that Joe’s reputation wasn’t damaged and this who case is ridiculous.

    Joe stood up, in front of a crowd and said, “You may know me by my other look.”

    He then put he same mask on to look like Zoro.

    If he thought it was so damaging, why would he stand up in front of a crowd?

  10. **Can you remember when Republicans interfered with a Democratic Party Primary Election?**

    Sure. Rauner did in the Dem primary this week.

  11. There is very good reason to believe that the Illinois Integrity Fund violated election law by not registering with the State of Illinois, so there is a strong public interest in unmasking the people behind it.

    I hope that Prossnitz includes this argument in his motion, and also sends a copy of this suit to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

    They aren’t exactly known for doing much of anything, but since all the heavy lifting is being done by someone else, they might be persuaded to file a motion in support of the suit with the Court.

  12. Net result: complaint out, Tirio’s lawyer does a rewrite.

    Nothing will ever happen.

    That’s the way this corrupt country with its corrupt judges is.

    It’s Illinois in a nutshell.

  13. Commenters who dare suggest my sunshine blogger is inconsequential must be silenced and banned immediately. Don’t believe me? Ask any member of the feline community whether he is inconsequential…tic, tock, tic, tock, tic, tock, meeeeeoooooowwwwwwwww…

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