A press release from McHenry County Clerk candidate Joe Tirio’s attorney Philip Prossnitz:
Joe Tirio Files Suit to Unmask Illinois Integrity Fund
Who is the “Illinois Integrity Fund” that sent our mailers during the primary in March?
Joe Tirio wants to know.
McHenry County experienced a March Republican primary that many felt stooped to unprecedented lows with anonymous political mailers, robo calls by people using aliases, and websites making unfounded accusations of criminal wrongdoing.
Some of these “hit pieces” were distributed by individuals hiding behind fictitious entities such as the “Illinois Integrity Fund.” The “Illinois Integrity Fund” did not register with the Illinois Board of Elections nor is it a registered Illinois company or corporation.
When Tirio drove to the Hoffman Estates address listed on the three mailers that attacked him, he found an office building with no trace of anyone or anything associated with the “Illinois Integrity Fund”.
No one has come forward to acknowledge being a member of the “Illinois Integrity Fund” or to claim responsibility for what was printed.
Voters and the general public do not know who was behind the “Illinois Integrity Fund” and Joe Tirio is concerned voters believed the “Illinois Integrity Fund” was a registered political organization making “truthful claims.” Neither is true.
The “Illinois Integrity Fund” was a mask for someone putting out false, defamatory information about Tirio.
The public doesn’t know who is behind this entity.
But Joe intends to find out. Joe Tirio is striking back.
oe left a successful career in the corporate management world to run for political office in 2015.
He successfully spearheaded the initiative to save taxpayers’ money by starting the process of merging the County Recorder and County Clerk’s offices in McHenry County.
Joe ran a winning campaign in March 2018 to be the Republican nominee for County Clerk, but not without suffering scathing personal attacks from the “Illinois Integrity Fund,” an organization working in the shadows, accusing him of committing financial crimes.
The “Illinois Integrity Fund” is an unregistered organization Tirio wants to unmask.
“I wasn’t just called names.
“I was accused of committing crimes with taxpayers’ money!
“Throughout my political career I’ve tried to make county government more efficient and responsible and save the taxpayers’ money.
“These accusations serve no purpose but to misinform a voter, rob him of his or her vote, and discourage civic-minded people from getting involved in politics,” said Tirio.
Woodstock lawyer Phil Prossnitz, who is representing Tirio reflected, “A certain amount of mudslinging is to be expected, but what was done here was unconscionable. Joe is a good man. We believe in the eyes of the law these mailers went too far.”
“If people hiding behind an alias can get away with making false accusations of crimes against an honest man like Joe, they can do it against anyone running for office.
“We need to unmask these people,” commented Prossnitz.
“The courts draw a reasonable line on abuses of free speech.
“If a statement is false and done with malice, it is defamation. Anonymous, false, malicious ‘hit pieces’ go beyond mere damage caused by fake news. This lying undermines American democracy,” said Prossnitz.
Because Tirio does not know the identity of the person or persons behind the fliers, he and his lawyer are going into court using a new Illinois Supreme Court Rule that allows limited discovery to find out the identity of the “Illinois Integrity Fund.”
The respondents in the petition are the printing company whose name appeared on the mailers and Tirio’s opponent who used language in her automated telephone call similar to the mailers.
“Politics is a rough business, but if we as a community don’t stand up to people who distributed thousand of fliers with lies claiming I committed crimes, how can we expect honest, hard-working citizens to come forward for public service?” questioned Tirio.
“This lawsuit is about answering: When is lying about an opponent in a political campaign going too far?
“Should people be allowed to use aliases or hide behind fake organizations and make false accusations to gain an advantage in an American political campaign?
“Does blatant, knowing, overt lying undermine American democracy?
“Does this behavior rob you of your vote?
“In an American political campaign should we teach our children — ‘anything goes?’
“Tirio invites politicians and citizens of all backgrounds and party affiliation to say enough is enough and come forward to unmask the people behind the ‘Illinois Integrity Fund.'”
The case has been assigned to Judge Kevin Costello, 18 MR 302, and is next up May 23, 2018 at 9:00 A.M. in courtroom 204.