Here’s a commentary from a Friend of McHenry County Blog on the Woodstock Independent’s Editorial attacking Joe Tirio, McHenry County Clerk, for daring to file a lawsuit to find out who defamed him last spring:
Response to Woodtucky Independent
Cheryl Wormley’s January 16, 2019 editorial in The Woodstock Independent leaves out undisputed, and critical facts that are well-documented in public court pleadings.
She inexcusably omits the parts of the malicious language in the mailers from a fictitious entity – the “Illinois Integrity Fund” – that were critical to Judge Costello’s ruling that the mosh pit of political mud-slinging and name calling had been crossed over and the mailer’s claims violated the settled laws of defamation.
The First Amendment does not protect defamation.
Ms. Wormley did not, in a forth right manner, disclose the full statement the judge found to be a violation of law.
To falsely state Joe Tirio had a “secret, taxpayer funded slush fund” from which he took “a vacation” and “hired political cronies” is as a matter of law defamation.
That statement is false and accuses a public official of committing a crime in office.
Rejecting extensive argument by the lawyers for the printer who sought to protect the identity of the “Illinois Integrity Fund” who created, mailed and paid for the mailers, Judge Kevin Costello ordered the printer to identity the parties responsible for the defamatory mailers.
This is not new law – you cannot anonymously defame or injure your political rivals any more than rival restaurants can issue mailers falsely stating the other restaurant allows rat poison to fall into
Ms. Wormley trivializes the thoughtful decision of Judge Kevin Costello who only ruled after an 8-month process including extensive arguments and briefing.
To say that Judge Costello “should have laughed the case out of court” as Ms. Wormley suggests, trivializes and shows an ignorance of the thorough and detailed analysis of the issues that this patient and intellectual judge afforded the litigants in a public court of law.
It turns out the individuals named by the printer have connections with the Democratic Party and Cook County.
Ms. Wormley fails to raise the obvious question one would expect of a journalist as to why these people directed their attention and pocketbook to a “down ballot” race for county clerk in a suburban, Republican primary.
Cheryl Wormley’s analogy to one aspect of the Stormy Daniels matter shows an ignorance of the
Daniels/Trump defamation case and the Tirio matter.
Ms. Daniels said she was approached by a thug who sought to intimidate her in a parking lot.
She provided a sketch of the person.
President Trump tweeted her story was a “total con job.”
Daniels sued after that lone tweet. Judge S. James Otero ruled, “The court agrees with Mr. Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States.”
Judge Costello considered and rejected an identical argument as the mailers appear to state facts, not mere political rhetoric or hyperbole.
It is inexcusable for Ms. Wormley to have excluded key facts; it is a disservice to her readers and the
judge to give such short shrift to the judge’s decision.
Yes, Mr. Tirio won the election, but how many people read these anonymous hit pieces and threw away their vote based upon these malicious “statements of fact” from the “Illinois Integrity Fund” (which they undoubtedly expected had “registered” with the Illinois State Board of Elections – which it turns out they had not).
For those voters and for future voters and candidates contemplating running for public office, Mr. Tirio seeks to enforce the well-settled laws of defamation.