Monday, July 19, 2004

Democrats Put Bush on the Ballot While Fighting to Keep Nader off It

The Democrats change the election law to put George W. Bush on the ballot in Illinois, in addition to eight other states, but fight hard to keep Ralph Nader off it in the same state, as well as in all other states:
  • Illinois fixed a glitch in its election law on Thursday to ensure President Bush appears on the state's Nov. 2 ballots.

    The relatively late dates of this year's Republican Party convention, running Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, meant that Bush would not be the official nominee until after an Aug. 30 deadline set in state law.

    The ballot qualification issue arose in nine states, with Illinois the last to take care of it. The amendment allows candidates onto the ballot who are nominated after the deadline.

    "Illinois citizens should be able to vote for the sitting president if they choose, and this technical change will make sure that they have that option in November," said Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat. (Reuters, "Illinois Fixes Glitch to Keep Bush's Spot on Ballot," July 8, 2004)

  • "[Gov. Rod Blagojevich] thinks President Bush should be on the ballot. He should be a choice," said Rebecca Rausch, a spokeswoman for the governor. (Scott Miller, "Bush Will Appear on Ballot," Bloomington Pantagraph, June 29, 2004)

  • [Jeff] Trigg [the executive director of the Libertarian Party of Illinois] related how the Democrats had recently made a deal with the Republicans to allow George Bush to be placed on the Illinois ballot after the official deadline to certify candidates in the state expired. Michael Madigan offered the Republicans a deal: ‘If you forgive $1 million in campaign fines against Democrats, we’ll change the deadline for President Bush.’

    “The Democrats cooperated with the Republicans to put them on the ballot. Doesn’t that tell you who their real enemy is? They had a perfect opportunity to keep the person who they say is their worst enemy off the ballot, but they didn’t do it. They willfully went along with it so President Bush could take advantage of the 9/11 anniversary in New York. Yet they are challenging Ralph Nader, the Green Party and Tom Mackaman. That tells you their real enemy is voter choice.” ("Green Party, Libertarians Join SEP to Denounce Attack on Third Party Campaigns,", July 17, 2004)

  • The Illinois Nader for President campaign says that fulltime employees for House Speaker Mike Madigan's office were involved in challenging petition signatures during the last few weeks of June, working to disqualify Nader from the General Election ballot.

    Christina Tobin, local coordinator for the Ralph Nader for President, said that while the challenge was in process. . . she noticed a several people challenging signatures at the Chicago Board of Elections and Cook County Clerk's office were the Speaker's employees, and others were interns. obtained the payroll for the Speaker’s Office for June and compared it with the late June sign-in sheets for the Chicago Board of Elections and the Cook County Clerk’s Office. The following 12 full-time employees were found doing political work:

    • Michael Cassidy

    • Shaw Decremer

    • Jill Edelblute

    • Kimberly Hegarty

    • Elizabeth Moe

    • Kirk Mottram

    • Rebecca Novak

    • Martin Quinn

    • Dorothy Randle

    • Peter Senechalle

    • Jon Valadez

    • Ronald Wos

    Eight other petition challengers were not fulltime employees, but on contract with the state:

    • Tom Foley, Jr.

    • Joe Garcia

    • Angela Gargano

    • Tom Hildreth

    • Kevin McCarthy

    • Teri Negovan

    • Kristy Nice

    • David O’Farrell

    Some worked one day, while others like Shaw Decremer and Rebecca Novak signed in and worked multiple days. All but Kimberly Hegarty were paid the same amount for the first half of June as for the last half. filed a freedom of information request to see House Speaker's office time sheets for the staffers during the days they were seen at the Chicago Board of Elections, but it has not yet been fulfilled.

    Steve Brown spokeman for Speaker Madigan's office said today if any of the Speaker's employees were at the Board of Elections doing work, they were not there on state time.

    "They were either on vacation, time off, but it was not 'comp' time," Brown said today. "We've never used comp time for that."

    If Madigan followed his previous state policy of not using taxpayer dollars to finance political work, the time sheets should show that the employees in question took personal days, vacation time when they were checking voter registration records against the Nader petitions.

    The fulltime employees were paid at least $9.20 per hour, and others were salaried, according to the information obtained from the Comptroller's office. Assuming each worked the entire month, one would expect their paycheck to be less for the second half of the month than for the first half.

    That was usually, but not always, the case according to the payroll information provided. Tom Foley, paid $12.50 per hour, was paid $975 for both the first and the second two weeks of June.

    Joe Garcia, paid the same hourly rate, actually earned more for the second half of June than he did in its first two weeks: $1,000 versus $1056.25. Kristy Nice, paid $9.20 per hour, earned $515.20 the first two weeks and $644 the later half of the month. Her base pay was listed as $515.20.

    Kevin McCarthy’s paycheck, on the other hand, went from $915.63 to $793.95. He checked petitions three days, according to the Board of Elections sign-in sheets. At his $12.50 hourly rate of pay, that seems to mean that he got paid for about 10 hours less work during the petition-checking time than during the first half of the month.

    Christina Tobin said one sixteen-year-old was asked by a Nader volunteer why he was at the Board of Elections, working with the House staffers.

    “Because I have to be here,” Tobin reports the staffer said. ". . . I work for the Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. I have no choice but to be here.”

    A Downstate challenger in a state representative race said the same tactic was used to challenge his petitions last month.

    Champaign County Socialist Worker Party candidate Tom Mackaman believes that Madigan employees Liz Brown and Brendan Hostetler worked on state time preparing the Democrats challenge to his petitions.

    “Apparently, these two state employees, during normal working hours and at taxpayer expense, engaged in overtly partisan political activity in pursuance of the Democrats’ objection to my petitions,” Mackaman said today.

    Brown was paid $1,875 both the first and the last half of June. Hostetler got $1,750 in each pay check. (The Leader-Chicago Bureau, "Nader Campaign Says Madigan Staffers Used to Challenge Petitions," The Illinois Reader, July 19, 2004)

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