Tag Archives: illinois

Illinois Libertarian Party Wins Ballot Access Fight in Federal Court

The Libertarian Party of Illinois has won a battle in the state-by-state fight to repeal laws preventing the rise of a viable third party in the U.S., as it has prevailed in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Illinois’ full-slate ballot access restriction.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Andrea R. Wood overturned the law, declaring it unconstitutional, in a motion for summary judgment.

Election law expert Richard Winger of Ballot Access News wrote, describing the now-overturned law, “[The full slate law] forced newly-qualifying parties to run a full slate of statewide candidates, whether they wanted to or not. For example, in midterm years, it forced such parties to run for Attorney General, if they wanted to run for Governor, even though the party might not have a qualified candidate for Attorney General (only attorneys can run for that position). In county partisan elections, it forced parties that wanted to run for any countywide executive positions to run for State’s Attorney.”

[RELATED: Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access]

Winger noted that the “full-slate law was passed in 1931” and suggested that “it was probably passed to thwart the Communist Party.

Libertarian Party of Illinois chairman Lex Green told NPR, explaining the challenges that had been caused by the law, “If the Libertarian party, or the Green Party, or the Constitution Party, or any other new party would want to run for governor, they would also have to find a qualified candidates for Attorney General, and a candidate for Secretary of State, Comptroller, etc… I personally think that it is all political maneuvering to keep the Democrats and Republicans in power in Illinois.

So we just asked that we be put on equal footing with the Democrats and the Republicans,” Green added.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

The Illinois Libertarian Party had originally filed the lawsuit in 2012. Judge Wood has not yet published a decision explaining her rationale behind declaring the law unconstitutional.

A July 2015 Truth in Media Consider This video highlights the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns After Lavish Spending Controversy Unfolds

Illinois Republican Rep. Aaron Schock announced his resignation on Tuesday following multiple reports regarding the congressman’s deficient accounting practices and numerous controversial expenditures.

In his statement, Schock said that the questions about his spending have made it “too difficult” for him to continue to serve the 18th District :

Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31st.

“I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington. I have given them my all over the last six years. I have traveled to all corners of the District to meet with the people I’ve been fortunate to be able to call my friends and neighbors.

“But the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself.

“I have always sought to do what’s best for my constituents and I thank them for the opportunity to serve.”

Multiple news outlets reported that Schock resigned without first holding a discussion with Republican leaders.

Politico reported that Schock’s purchases, including using office budget funds for the purpose of redecorating his congressional office to look similar to the set of popular PBS show “Downton Abbey” and using $15,000 of government funds to spend on private flights, came under national scrutiny.

Schock has provided reimbursements to taxpayers and the government for some of his expenditures and is now facing an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

When asked earlier this month if his spending may be in violation of federal regulations Schock responded “Well, I certainly hope not.”

According to Politico, Schock was asked less than 24 hours ago about mileage reimbursements he received. The congressman had billed the government as well as his campaign for a large number of miles allegedly driven between January 2010 and July 2014 in his Chevrolet Tahoe.

According to Politico, “When Schock transferred the SUV to an Illinois dealership in 2014, it had 81,860 miles on the odometer, the documents show. However, from January 2010 to the end of July 2014, he billed the federal government for 123,131 miles on his personal vehicle. During the same period, the Republican billed his “Schock for Congress” campaign account and GOP Generation Y Fund, his leadership political action committee, for an additional 49,388 miles. Altogether, Schock sought reimbursement for 172,520 miles on his car, despite the fact that he signed documents that certified the vehicle traveled less than half that distance.”

Schock will remain in office until March 31st.

New bill proposes a ban on body armor

A new bill has been introduced to the House which could make civilian ownership of body armor illegal.

The bill, called the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, would strip the right of civilians to purchase or own body armor. The bill reads, “It shall be unlawful for a person to purchase, own or possess enhanced body armor.”

Enhanced body armor, as defined by the bill, is “body armor, including a helmet or shield, the ballistic resistance of which meets or exceeds the ballistic performance of Type III armor…” Type III armor protects against most standard issue rifles as well as many rounds used in handguns.

However, there is an exception to the bill. The bill reads all body armor will be illegal to possess unless the person in question is a government employee. All personnel who work for the various government agencies, departments, or “political subdivisions” are exempt from this potential new law as the bill is currently written.

The bill also reads any person who buys body armor before the bill would take effect would be able to possess their body armor in a similar manner as those government employees who are exempt.

Finally, if the bill were to pass and someone was caught wearing or owning any restricted body armor, the bill reads the person would receive a fine, possible jail time, or both as punishment.

The bill was introduced by California Rep. Mike Honda (D) and is co-sponsored by Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Danny Davis (D-I.ll).

Currently, the bill is still being reviewed by the House Judiciary. You can follow the bill’s progress here.

New Illinois Law Allows Schools to Discipline Students for Cyberbullying that Occurs Outside of School

As of January 1, 2015, a new law will go into effect in Illinois that allows schools to punish students for offenses that occur outside of the classroom, with an emphasis on combatting cyberbullying.

The News-Gazette reported that the law “allows schools to discipline students for any type of electronic bullying that causes a disruption to the school day,” even if that bullying occurred outside of school.

According to NBC Chicago, the new law “expands on a previous legislation banning cyberbullying in schools,” and “applies to devices that aren’t owned or used by a school.

Once the law goes into effect, Tuscola High School plans to launch an online “Issue Awareness Report,” which is a forum for concerned individuals to notify the principal, social workers, and guidance counselors of instances in which they have been bullied or harassed on the Internet.

Katie Hatfield, a social worker in Tuscola, told the News-Gazette that although when posting in the forum, users must include specific details about the incident of offense, the post is ultimately anonymous, and the user is not required to provide his or her name.

“The forum is a good way for people to share information and let us know what is going on without us having to get it second-hand,” said Hatfield. “If we know about what is happening, we can more easily address it.”

NBC Chicago reported that the new legislation, which was approved by the Illinois Legislature earlier this year, and signed by Governor Pat Quinn in August, would require districts to “update their disciplinary policies to reflect the new law.”

Darren Loschen, the Principal of Armstrong High School, expressed concern about the liability the new law will put on school districts.

It’s really a situation where you would hope schools would deal with bullying, no matter when the harm happens, but if it’s happening off school grounds and it’s not tied to the school, then there’s always the question: Should it be handled by someone else?” Loshchen said.

New Illinois “Eavesdropping Law” Distorts Ability To Record Law Enforcement

A new anti-eavesdropping bill, which would replace a former law that had been struck down as unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court in March, passed the state’s House and Senate last week. The new legislation has been identified by proponents as reform aimed at protecting private conversations, but the imprecise language contained in the law could create new confusion regarding the ability of citizens to record encounters with police and public officials.

The state’s previous law had prohibited the recording of any conversation without consent from all parties involved, which was presumed to protect private conversations from being documented. However, the law applied to all conversations that were unreasonably expected to be private, and one critical consequence of the law was the inability to record interaction with law enforcement and other government officials for the sake of “privacy”.

The old statute criminalized “the recording of conversations that cannot be deemed private: a loud argument on the street, a political debate on a college quad, yelling fans at an athletic event, or any conversation loud enough that the speakers should expect to be heard by others,” according to the court’s opinion. “None of these examples implicate privacy interests, yet the statute makes it a felony to audio record each one.”

The new bill was introduced on December 2nd as an amendment to another existing, unrelated bill. All of the content of the unrelated bill was removed and then replaced with the restrictions on recording.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), a sponsor of the new bill, said that “The most important thing the bill does is to restore Illinois to a standard that requires everyone in a private conversation to consent to a recording” and claimed the bill satisfies “the Supreme Court requirement by limiting that to conversations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Although the Associated Press has reported that the new bill “attempts to protect people from surreptitious and improper recording of their conversations without infringing on the rights of others to disseminate what others say,” independent research organization Illinois Policy Institute has criticized this new bill’s obscure wording, calling the new version “nearly as bad as the old one.”

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, “Under the new bill, a citizen could rarely be sure whether recording any given conversation without permission is legal. The bill would make it a felony to surreptitiously record any ‘private conversation,’ which it defines as any ‘oral communication between 2 or more persons,’ where at least one person involved had a ‘reasonable expectation’ of privacy.” Illinois Policy noted that the law does not clarify when someone should have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and does not explain what qualifies as a “public encounter”.

The new bill would classify unlawful recording of police, an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney or a judge a Class 3 felony, which can result in a 2-4 year prison sentence. Unlawful recording of a citizen would be classified as a Class 4 felony, which could result in 1-3 years in prison. A felony conviction and subsequent prison sentence has the ability to deter people from recording encounters, especially if they are unsure when it is legal to record conversations.

The bill currently awaits the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn. It is available to read here.

Chicago City Council approves minimum wage hike

An ordinance brought before the Chicago City Council to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour was overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by a vote of 44-5.

Currently, the minimum wage in Chicago is $8.25, and under the new ordinance this will rise to $10 an hour by next July and continue to rise by fifty cents every year until 2019.

The ordinance cites the rising levels of inflation for the need to raise the minimum wage.  Specifically, the ordinance says, “rising inflation has outpaced the growth in the minimum wage, leaving the true value of lllinois’ current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour 32 percent below the 1968 level of $10.71 per hour (in 2013 dollars).”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Tribune, the minimum wage increase is “part of an economic strategy to make sure that work pays … and not only that work pays — simple — but no parent that works should raise a child in poverty.”

While some groups such as the Raise Chicago Coalition applauded the raising of the wage, others said the approval of the ordinance is a mistake.

Tom Tunney, a restaurant owner in Chicago, said, according to the Huffington Post, “How do you go from $8.25 [an hour] to $13 overnight?  You know what you do? You raise the prices and you’ve also got to find ways to do it with less help. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Alderman Bob Fioretti, however, said the ordinance does not go far enough and the minimum wage could be raised to $15 an hour.  “While I’m proud to support today’s increase in the minimum wage, we can’t stop fighting now,” said Fioretti.  “The chant in the streets here and nationwide has been ‘show me $15,’ not ‘show me $13 by 2019.'”

Labor Union to Spend “Six Figures” on Libertarian Party Candidate for IL Governor

In Illinois, the 2014 governor’s race is heating up in anticipation of election day on November 4. The race pits incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn against Republican Bruce Rauner and Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm. The Constitution Party’s candidate, Mike Oberline, was kicked from the ballot after Republicans challenged the signatures on his ballot access petition, setting the stage for a three-way race. Currently, Quinn and Rauner are neck-and-neck, as the wealthy Republican challenger has spent upwards of $20 million on his own campaign.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, strange bedfellows have emerged in IL’s tight gubernatorial contest. While labor unions are hardly known for their staunch support of libertarian causes, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 recently spent $30,000 lining the campaign war chest of Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm in what has been seen as an effort to soften the Republican Rauner’s support among right-leaning politicos. Additionally, Rich Miller at Capitol Fax reports that the union intends to spend significantly more money on behalf of the Libertarian through an independent expenditure campaign of its own. Miller wrote, “Asked about rumors that his union would spend between $200,000 and $250,000 to push the pro-gun, pro-life Grimm with traditional Republican voters against the much more liberal Rauner, [International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 president Jim] Sweeney replied ‘More.’ Asked if the budget was six figures or seven, Sweeney said ‘Six.'” Miller’s report notes that the union plans to spend the funds on direct mail and robocall campaigns on behalf of Grimm.

Responding to claims that the labor union’s financial support is being given in an effort to split Republican votes, Grimm said, “I thought it was genuine, and I don’t see it as being a problem.” Considering the facts that the Republican Rauner is pro-choice and failed to garner the National Rifle Association’s support as he has yet to return the organization’s issue position questionnaire, Grimm, who is already polling at 5-8%, could pick up significant support from conservatives.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 released a statement explaining the motive behind its plan, “While a majority of our Illinois membership has indicated its support for Governor Pat Quinn, we are committed to offer a viable choice for members who do not support Democrats. Nearly half of our members in Illinois pull Republican ballots in a typical primary election, so it is important that these members have the opportunity to back a candidate that will not attack their livelihood… The stakes in this election are too high for any union members to sit out. That is why Local 150 has actively supported the right of ‘third parties’ to be on the ballot this fall.” The union also supported Grimm’s efforts to gain ballot access in the face of Republican attempts to challenge his nominating petition and drive him off the ballot.

Grimm, a 33-year-old health club manager and business owner from Peoria, described his opponents Quinn and Rauner in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Neither of them is going to do anything to fundamentally change the direction of the state.” In the above-embedded video provided by Fox News, Chad Grimm said that he decided to run for governor because he “got sick of living in the most corrupt state in the union.” If he attains over 5% support in the election, the Libertarian Party will be considered an established party in terms of achieving ballot access in Illinois’ next election.

Crime Rates in Chicago Plummet After IL Implements Concealed Carry

Gun rights activists have often held up Chicago as an example of the failures of gun control. The city has historically had some of the strictest laws against gun ownership while also suffering under some of the worst crime rates in the US. In 2012, Chicago surpassed New York as America’s murder capital. However, after the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed carry in December of 2012, a concealed carry program was implemented in the state this year, finally and for the first time allowing law-abiding Chicago residents to arm themselves in public against the city’s seemingly-perpetual crime wave.

According to The Washington Timesnow that citizens in Chicago can legally defend themselves, the city’s historically disastrous crime rates have begun to plummet precipitously. Police department crime statistics note that, in the first quarter of 2014, the homicide rate in Chicago has dropped to a 56-year low. In 2014 so far, burglaries are down by 20%, auto theft rates have dropped by 26%, and robberies leading to arrests are down by 20%.

The Chicago Police Department wasted no time in declaring victory and claiming credit for the drop in crime, but Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson told The Washington Times, “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.” He feels that the drop in crime can at least in part be attributed to the implementation of concealed carry in Illinois. Said Pearson, “It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect.”

So far, Illinois has issued 68,549 concealed carry licences. 28,552 Chicago residents have requested a permit. Permit holders must pay around $600 in fees and attend 16 hours of classes on gun safety.

It is also worth noting that Washington DC, another city which once featured stricter gun control laws, experienced a dramatic drop in crime rates after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of DC residents’ gun rights in the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision. 2008’s Heller decision also legalized gun ownership in the home for Chicago residents, and the Windy City experienced a similar drop in its murder rate following that landmark case. Now that the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed carry, gun rights in the state have expanded further than just the home, allowing permit carriers to defend themselves in public. Though it is too early to conclusively determine exactly what is causing the reduction in crime, the shift in policy favoring gun rights appears to correlate with a sharp drop in Chicago crime rates.

Twitter Parody Account Leads to Full Police Raid, Arrest

Peoria, IL- A Twitter account that mocked Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis resulted in a police raid of a West Bluff district house and an arrest for marijuana possession.

In early March Ardis learned of a Twitter account, @Peoriamayor, that someone else had created. This account had been making controversial and vulgar tweets- supposedly pretending to be Ardis- although the tweets could be considered satire because of their comedic, albeit profane, tone. Twitter suspended the account because it had violated their policy that states parody accounts must be labeled clearly.

Ardis ordered police to track down the person behind it, citing the account as “false personation of a public official”, which is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois.

A warrant was obtained to seek the subscriber’s information from Twitter on March 14th. After Twitter handed over the information they were seeking, police were then able to obtain another warrant to identify the Comcast customer address where the tweets had been made.

A warrant to search the home of the Comcast customer was then given, and the search was conducted April 15th. Several police officers, up to seven, charged through the home and seized all Internet-enabled digital devices that were inside.

The raid didn’t result in any arrests in connection to the fake Twitter account. Instead, Jacob Elliott, 36, a resident of the home and the Comcast account holder for the address, ended up being arrested for possession of “30 to 500 grams of marijuana”.

Elliot wasn’t the perpetrator of the fake Twitter account; the man who had been behind it was his roommate, Jon Daniel. Daniel was questioned, but not arrested for impersonating Ardis on Twitter.

Elliot’s girlfriend, Michelle Pratt, was one of the residents brought down for questioning. “They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it,” she said. “They brought me in like I was a criminal.”

Mayor Ardis has not commented on the incident.


Update: Officer Charged in Death of Elderly Veteran

A Park Forest, Illinois police officer has been charged in the death of 95-year-old John Wrana, a WWII veteran who was killed in a dispute over medical treatment. Officer Craig Taylor appeared before a judge and faces one charge of reckless conduct, a Class 4 felony. He was freed on his own recognizance.

As reported last August, police were called to the Victory Centre Senior Living Facility because Wrana was refusing medical care and had reportedly become aggressive in his refusal. According to the police, Wrana was “combative” and went so far as to shake his cane at the staff, as well as a knife. Police also claimed he had brandished a shoehorn that was first mistaken for a machete.

There were several police officers at the scene, and they used a riot shield to force entry into Wrana’s room. After an attempt to Taser Wrana had failed, Taylor allegedly fired five bean bag rounds at him while he was sitting in a chair.

Wrana was separated from the staff in his room when he was confronted by the police, and witnesses dispute the police’s claim that Wrana was wielding a knife. Family members say he didn’t own a knife, certainly not a 12-inch butcher knife, and the nursing home staff did not see him holding one. It is notable that Wranas also needed a walker to move around, which casts doubt on the claim by police that Wranas was an immediate threat to the rest of the residents and staff.

Taylor faces probation or up to three years in prison if he is convicted. Wrana’s family is relieved that an investigation has led to somebody being held accountable for the tragedy. “On behalf of the family, we’re pleased that it’s finally been addressed and reviewed. We’re pleased that there’s at least been an outcome with respect with an investigation that’s taken far, far too long,” said Nicholas Grapsas, the attorney representing Wrana’s stepdaughter.



Follow Annabelle Bamforth on Twitter.






Cop Asks Child To Send Him “Sexy Pics” & Uses Police Database To Collect Private Info

A cop in Illinois was recently caught soliciting “sexy pics” from a 12-year-old.

During the summer of 2012, Woodstock police Sgt. Chip Amati was dating a woman with two daughters, ages 12 and 10. One day the 12-year-old told her mother that Amati gave her a gold necklace that said “Princess.”

The mother thought this was odd, so she went to Amati’s home to ask him about it. This caused a fight which resulted in the couple breaking up.

The following day, the mother told her daughters to avoid Amati and ignore any contact from the man. This prompted her 12-year-old to come forward with some disturbing text messages previously sent to her from Amati. The first one, sent on August 16, said “Hi beautiful.” The subsequent message said, “Feel free to send me a pic anytime ;).” Then another text, sent three days later, said, “Send me some sexy pics! <3.”

The 12-year-old’s mother immediately turned the text messages over to officials. While investigating the situation, officials made another discovery: Amati had collected information on the mother through a police database funded by tax money — all without the mother’s consent.

Although using police databases for personal reasons is a felony, Amati has been charged with nothing at this time.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, “Officers who use the database for personal reasons can be charged with official misconduct, a felony, state police said. But McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi has not charged Amati. After a departmental inquiry, Amati, a 24-year veteran and one of the city’s highest-paid employees, was suspended without pay for 30 days, though he can take them one at a time at the department’s discretion within a year, police Chief Robert Lowen said.”

According to authorities, Amati broke no law by sending the suggestive texts.

The parents of the 12-year-old are furious that no serious disciplinary action has been taken against Amati. Her father said, “He’s no better than who he’s arrested.”

What are your thoughts on this situation? Tell us below.


Follow Kristin on Facebook and Twitter.