Be Ready to See What Political Opponents Could Do To You and Family
From Fox Valley Magazine July 12, 2021
Domestic Battery Conviction Against Controversial Geneva Pundit And Political Operative Jeff Ward Overturned
On Friday, July 9, the Appellate Court for the Second District of Illinois overturned the conviction for domestic battery of controversial pundit and political operative Jeff Ward in a 2-1 decision.
Mr. Ward, well-known in the Fox Valley for his often provocative commentary and sometimes abrasive personal style, had been found guilty previously by a jury in a trial overseen by Judge Clayton Lindsey from the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Ward’s case having been previously moved by the chief judge of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Judge Susan Clancy Boles.
The charges against Ward stemmed from an incident on June 1, 2018, where Ward was involved in a verbal altercation with police officers at the scene of a traffic accident involving his 18-year-old son Matthew. As Ward was arguing with one of the officers, defendant’s wife, Leslie Ward, stepped between defendant and the officer.
Ward then pushed Ms. Ward to the side and continued to argue. He was arrested and charged by complaint with two counts of domestic battery.
At the time and throughout the proceedings, Ms. Ward refused to cooperate and insisted that her husband did nothing wrong, going so far as to issuing a written statement stating the “push” did not constitute domestic battery and that “Jeff’s arrest was just another act of harassment against her family from the Geneva Police Department.” Her statement was included in a pre-trial motion by defense counsel.
The arrest was the latest in a long history of conflict between the Geneva Police Department and Ward. One of the officers involved in the arrest, Sergeant George Carbray, an 18-year veteran of the Geneva Police Department, confessed under examination by defense counsel that he “did not like” Ward. “I believe he’s a bully who creates a lot of issues and tries to manipulate people.”
In overturning the jury verdict, the court held that Judge Lindsey had erred in not granting defense’s motion for a directed verdict during the first trial. (A directed verdict is effectively a ruling from the judge that the prosecution has not presented sufficient evidence to constitute a viable case against a defendant.)
Ward, in a column published in his First Ward blog shortly after the ruling reversing his conviction, was scathing.
“…if two directed verdicts aren’t beyond-any-reasonable-doubt evidence that Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, the Geneva Police, and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office under Joe McMahon were intent on shutting me up, then nothing is.
“Ain’t it funny how, in 62 long years on this third rock from the sun, I’ve never been arrested anywhere outside the city of Geneva!
“So now, the Geneva Police have come after me six times and I’ve beaten them all six times.”Jeff Ward, from The First Ward blog, quoted by Fox Valley Magazine 7/12/21
Ward is a veteran in local politics in the Fox Valley, having been associated in various capacities with the elections of candidates as diverse as Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser, and former State Senator and Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, among others. His First Ward blog and aggressive social media presence have caused no little amount of controversy both with public officials and the general public. He has particular scorn for the Geneva Police Department and Mayor Kevin Burns.
From the desk of John Lopez: I recommend clicking the link to Jeff Ward’s blog and reading the detailed “scathing” article he published after his conviction was overturned.
One of Ward’s attorney referenced who has a common first and last name, Jeff Meyer, is the same Jeff Meyer who won reelection to the Elgin Community Collage District 509 Board of Trustees in April, and is executive vice chairman of the Kane County Republican Party.
As local political causes, including alleged voter fraud or fighting Critical Race Theory (CRT) have been discussed both locally and across the country, with general encouragement for ordinary citizens to “get involved”, I cringe thinking many of these never-political concerned citizens finding out the hard way how far some may go in politics, especially when they see themselves and/or their livelihoods getting hurt.
I learned a long time ago, you are not being effective in politics, at any level, without making someone mad with what you say or do. Kind of like being a precinct committeeperson, and a heated, contested primary election is decided in your precinct, and your grassroots efforts with your neighbors decided the race.
The winner is going to be happy, the vanquished will be upset, and in some cases, will never forgive you and will look for a way of political payback, possibly involving law enforcement.
Newcomers to politics who are effective should know one may be SLAPPed with a lawsuit (SLAPP – “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”). While First Amendment protections usually can prevent a defeated political candidate from retaliating with a SLAPP doesn’t mean they won’t try. Whether one’s legitimate First Amendment protected free speech during an election campaign crossed over into defamation is something a judge may have to decide.
That’s politics, and politics is no place for the timid. I do recall back in the 1990s how someone was bullied out of running for precinct committeeperson, and when asked to explain, their only response was “I have kids”, clear proof someone mau-maued this person through a veiled threat against their school age children. An example of someone who probably shouldn’t be in politics.
Given how the media and Congressman Sean Casten (D, IL-06) have taken to attacking opponents of CRT lately as “unpatriotic” (Casten) or part of QAnon (NBC News), in this day and age of instant communication through social media, attacks can be quick.
Early Saturday morning, Ward sent out a general tweet vowing revenge on anyone who tried to use his now-overturned domestic battery conviction against him. He followed up with a tweet directed at IL-16 Republican candidate Catalina Lauf:
While the verbiage only added Catalina Lauf’s Twitter handle to the general tweet Ward had sent out a few minutes earlier, Ward, has a long memory.
For context, here is the tweet Ward refers to in reference to Catalina Lauf, which was published in the heat of the IL-14 congressional Republican primary campaign of 2020:
So Lauf’s screenshot tweet of Shaw Media’s coverage of Ward’s June 1, 2018 conviction that was overturned 3 years later could come back to haunt Lauf in her 2022 congressional bid.
Whether Ward pursues legal action against Lauf in a SLAPP/defamation suit, and/or through his work as a semi-retired political consultant remains to be seen.
While Ward is the exception as far as a political activist is concerned, Ward’s detailed blog article (link above) is a good read.