Joe Tirio’s lawsuit to learn who was behind the Illinois Integrity Fund’s defamatory flyers and what was Jack Franks’ involvement, may have moved one-step closer to a resolution.
The case has been assigned to Kane County Judge Kevin T. Busch – local McHenry County judges recused themselves from hearing the case.
Shortly before a Monday night midnight deadline, Chicago attorney Natalie Harris asked the Illinois Supreme Court to reverse the Appellate Court’s September 30, 2019 decision requiring disclosure of the names of the parties behind the Illinois Integrity Fund and its flyers.
In court Tuesday afternoon, Harris urged Judge Busch to continue his partial stay which covers Tirio’s written requests filed in February asking Franks and the Illinois Integrity Fund to name who was behind the Illinois Integrity Fund and the flyers.
While the matter was on appeal the judge allowed only limited discovery if it did not reveal the identities of members of the Illinois Integrity Fund.
Tirio’s attorney, Philip Prossnitz countered it was unlikely the Supreme Court would reverse both the trial judge and three-judge appellate panel’s decisions requiring disclosure.
He argued Tirio must be afforded the chance to clear his name adding this this was not a free speech case, but a defamation case.
He also revealed to the judge that in documents provided by Harris late Monday, the Illinois Integrity Fund acknowledged they spent in excess of $20,000 on the three flyers.
When an entity raises or spends $5,000 Illinois election law requires it file identifying disclosures with the State Board of Elections.
The Illinois Integrity Fund never filed any disclosures and used a fictitious address on the mailings.
The judge said he would not consider the criminal aspect of the case, but Prossnitz argued the violation of state election law took “the shine” off any suggestion that the case involved protecting the First Amendment.
Noting he was swayed by Tirio’s arguments and perhaps the defendants were running out of options, Judge Busch said he will rule in Geneva on December 5th whether to continue the stay.