County Board Member Chuck Wheeler Fourth Plaintiff to Target Senders of Illinois Integrity Fund (sic) Hit Pieces

The third lawsuit to drop against the Illinois Integrity Fund, Michael Noonan, Roosevelt Group, Inc., Sean Tenner, and KNI, Inc., was filed by McHenry County Board member Chuck Wheeler.

Jack Franks and Breaker Press were named as “Respondents in Discovery.”

At issue in Wheeler’s case are three postcards sent during last year’s Republican Party Primary Election.

The first combines what taxpayers spent on health insurance and travel expenses.

This Illinois Integrity Fund postcard adds the cost of four years of health insurance to a relatively small amount of mileage reimbursement with the emphasis travel expenses.

The back of the Illinois Integrity Fund hit piece leads readers to think that most of the money referenced was for travel reimbursement.  It is very similar to a mailing made against County Board member Michael Rein.

Attorney Charles L. Philbrick of the Wheaton law firm of Rathje Woodward LLC argues that the mailings were “defamatory, defamatory per se, and cast Plaintiff in a false light.”

Respondent in Discovery, Breaker Press Co., Inc., and Jack D. Franks, are “believed by the Plaintiff to have information essential to the determination of who should properly be named as additional defendants in this action.”

With regard to the health benefits charges, the filing states, “Plaintiff never billed the County for healthcare reimbursements.”

On travel expenses, “Plaintiff submitted travel expenses for his mileage driving to and from County Board Meetings totaling less than $6,000.”

Quoting the following, the argument is made that the statements are either “defamatory pro se” or “defamatory:”

  • “Wasteful Chuck Wheeler Really Gets Around”
  • “In the last 4 years, Wasteful Chuck Wheeler has billed
    McHenry County more than $100,000 for mileage and healthcare
    reimbursement in his capacity as a County Board Member. REALLY?”
  • “As a member of the McHenry County Board, Wheeler sold out the core
    principles of the Republican party”

The suit claims these statements are “defamatory per se as the defamatory character of the statement is apparent on its face”…”the words used are obviously and materially harmful to the Plaintiff and injury to his reputation may be presumed.

Wheeler’s attorney includes the following about the statement,

“Wasteful Chuck Wheeler Really Gets Around”

is “defamatory per se as it imputes adultery or fornication.”

Wheeler argues in the suit “the representations and statements in [the above flyer] are

  • “not reasonably capable of an innocent construction
  • “not privileged
  • ‘”were published by Defendants with actual malice knowing the statements were false or with a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements
  • “were made with actual malice and the intent to harm the Plaintiff in his business and professional reputation as to a public official and is an appropriate basis for the imposition of punitive damages”

Chuck Wheeler was also charged with wasting $25,000 to pay Local 150 of the Operating Engineers for a violation of the Open Meetings Act.  He voted against the expenditure.

The same message about the $25,000 payment made by the McHenry County Board to Local 150 is featured on the back of the postcard with a briefcase of one hundred dollar bills.  The payment was made by check of course.

Referring to the $25,000 payment, the suit says,

“While serving as a McHenry County Board Member, Plaintiff voted against approval of the $25,000 settlement of an Open Meetings Act claim filed by Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.”

(Local 150 later contributed $25,000 to Jack Farnks’ campaign for County Board Chairman.)

“Knowing the truth of the matters of public record and facts…but maliciously intending to injure Plaintiff and to bring him into public scandal, disrepute and disgrace, Defendants maliciously published the flyers concerning Plaintiff with their false, scandalous, malicious and defamatory words..” Chuck Wheeler’s attorney writes.

The brief asserts:

“… the Plaintiff is a person of good repute, law abiding and has honorably served the citizens of McHenry County as a County Board Member;

“Defendants knew that Plaintiff had not billed McHenry County for more than $100,000 for mileage and healthcare reimbursement, nevertheless made certain statements that accused the Plaintiff of dishonorable and illegal conduct, and official misconduct knowing, because all of the true facts were a matter of public record, that the statements more fully detailed below were false or with a reckless disregard as to whether they were false or not.”

Referring specifically to the hit piece above, the suit pulls out the following charges:

  • “Wasteful Chuck Wheeler”
  • “Waste Chuck Wheeler’s Arrogance COST MCHENRY COUNTY TAXPAYERS $25,000.00;”
  •  “Wasteful Wheeler and his board cronies disregarded the Open Meetings Act, the board was sued and had to pay $25,000.00. All because Wasteful Wheeler thinks he doesn’t have to play by the rules”

Many of the same arguments put forward about the first postcard are repeated about the second and third mailings.

The third mailing is below:

The third mailing aimed at defeating Chuck Wheeler in last year’s GOP Primary Election reiterates the settlement of the Operating Engineers Local 150 suit which Wheeler did not vote for.

Chuck Wheeler is depicted as one who violates the law and gets cash for doing so.

The following statements by the so-called Illinois Integrity Fund are brought into play while discussing the third mailing:

  • “Wheeler & his cronies cost taxpayers $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.”
  • “Wasteful Wheeler thinks laws don’t apply to him & his crazy cronies”

In addition to the defamation counts, Wheeler’s suit includes “false light” accusations.

“The flyer(s) falsely and publicly portrayed Plaintiff in a negative, false light.”

False light, I am told, is an easier cause of action to prove than defamation, libel or slander.

A jury trial is requested.


County Board Member Chuck Wheeler Fourth Plaintiff to Target Senders of Illinois Integrity Fund (sic) Hit Pieces — 18 Comments

  1. So… what specifically was inaccurate in these mailers?

    I don’t see anything that was not factually accurate.

  2. Well well well.

    Lawsuits seem to be piling up.

    Good luck Chuck and God bless you for taking a stand.

  3. I’m noticing a trend with Local 150.

    Costing the taxpayer’s a lot of money and find some politicians to join in on blaming someone else.

    Anyone who still believes they insert themselves here because they care might also know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

  4. If Franks lips or pen are moving, he’s lying!

    Go get ‘em, Chuck!

  5. Re: “Wheeler & his cronies cost taxpayers $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.””

    It could be argued that the same $25,000 ended up in the Franks campaign fund.

    On Sep. 15, 2016, Franks received the same amount of $25,000 from Local 150 into his campaign account.

    Want to know at least one thing wrong with the accusations?

    Wheeler in fact, as stated above, did not vote to grant the settlement.

  6. I believe Wheeler is the 4th Cal to target Illinois Integrity Fund, not the third. You need to change your headline, There are:

  7. **Want to know at least one thing wrong with the accusations? Wheeler in fact, as stated above, did not vote to grant the settlement.**

    Where in any of the three mailers does it say that Wheeler voted to grant the settlement?

  8. ““Wheeler & his cronies cost taxpayers $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.””

  9. So, reading comprehension can be difficult.

    But nothing in that sentence says that Wheeler voter for the settlement.

    At all.

    That statement that says Wheeler and friends cost the taxpayer $25k.

    This is accurate.

    1 – Wheeler and friends broke the law.
    2 – The County then got sued.
    3 – The County then settled for $25k.

    3 doesn’t happen without 2.

    2 doesn’t happen without 1.

    Therefore, 3 doesn’t happen without 1.

    Therefor wheeler and friends breaking the law cost the taxpayers $25k. T

    his really isn’t that hard to understand.

  10. AlabamaShake’s reasoning explains a lot about him / her.

    Is he / she a graduate of the Illinois public school system?

  11. Yea. Basic logic is hard to understand for a lot of folks.

    Wheeler has no chance of winning this lawsuit.

    It’s hard enough to win a lawsuit when a political mailer actually lies.

    But there are zero lies on these mail pieces.

  12. Nope… I had zero involvement in them.

    I’m just capable of reading a mailer, and reading the facts, and realizing that there was nothing factually inaccurate in these mailers.

  13. I’d be pretty surprised if this ever got to a jury trial.

    Y’all should do your homework on these types of cases.

    Even when directly lying, it’s nearly impossible to win.

    But for mailers like Wheeler’s, where there are not direct factual errors?

    No chance at all.

    None of you have been able to point out any direct factual errors.

    That says a lot right there.

  14. AlabamaSnake, please slither away to your Franks hole!

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