THIS COLUMN BEFORE IT WAS PUBLISHED:
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Peraica refuses to distance himself from Thompson's mudslinging
Peraica insists he is not obsessed with Liz Gorman
By Ray Hanania
Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica says he is too busy working on other election campaigns than to bother himself with complaints from his colleague Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman.
The two commissioners have been rivals since the very first time they said hello to each other.
And Peraica emphatically denies any role in the mudslinging candidacy of his friend, Mark Thompson, who challenged Gorman in the February 2, 2010 Republican Primary for the 17th District seat. Peraica also says he doesn’t know Pat Maher, the dynasty poster-child in the Hynes and 19th Ward family clan who faces-off with Gorman in November.
(I have included Peraica’s email response to this column at the bottom of this blog with my commentary where necessary.)
Yet, in a report issued by an examiner of the Illinois Election Board detailing possible unethical and illegal misconduct in the reporting of election campaign disclosures by the Thompson campaign, Peraica’s name is cited seven times.
Peraica called to take issue with my blog (Click HERE to read) and column (Click HERE to read) addressing all this. I detailed the examiner’s report and included it in full on the blog posting (Click HERE to read).
It raised serious questions about Peraica’s role in the Thompson campaign. Money changed hands and, according to the examiner, was not properly disclosed. That is a serious violation. The Election Board will review the examiner’s report at its meeting on July 19, this week.
“All I ever gave Thompson was a $100 donation. I attended a breakfast that he had. He was on our sample ballot but that’s because he won the endorsement of the Lyons Township Republican Organization. I did endorse Thompson because I am a part of the Lyons Republican Organization. That was decided by the members and Gorman was also considered for endorsement,” Peraica insisted.
“We did things for Thompson that we did for other endorsed candidates.”
Peraica said that a $1,000 payment to GOP Media was actually payment to Tom Swiss, Thompson’s campaign manager, who also runs a direct-mail operation that handled Peraica’s primary election materials.
“I can’t be blamed for what Swiss did with the money,” Peraica insisted. “I paid him for doing my direct mail $2,000.”
Peraica also said to me in referring to the report, “I think you are reading too much between the lines … I bought a set of emails from Swiss for Republican Voters in the 16th District where I was running two races at the time. That’s what I used it for, for my races not for Mark Thompson. I paid for that data that Swiss generated for me. What he does with it is not my business.
But the examiner’s report directly challenges Peraica’s claims. In fact, the examiner’s report states flatly that the money Peraica donated was intended to help Thompson, a clear contradiction to what Peraica insisted when he spoke to me.
The report explains Peraica’s involvement with Thompson differently:
“This check was a contribution from Stephen Bolton, which was reported on the Respondent's December 2009 Semi Annual Report as a contribution for $2,000, even though $1000 of this contribution was not received until after January 1, 2010. The second item was a check dated January 20, 2010 from Citizens for Peraica payable to GOP Media in the amount of $1,000. Mr. Swiss testified that this check was given to GOP Media for the benefit of the Respondent/Committee as part of a $2000 "Transfer In" that was previously reported as received by the Respondent/Committee on December 15, 2009.”
The examiner’s report continues:
“Clearly the $1000 check from Citizens for Peraica to GOP Media was made for the benefit of Mark Thompson and therefore violates this statute.”
This happens in politics all the time. One politician wants to help someone else and they often disguise their role intentionally to avoid being associated with mudslinging. But the report pulls the veil off the Thompson campaign and Peraica is clearly there.
“There is a fixation [by Hanania] on this Gorman-Peraica thing. There is an obsession but it is with her, not me. She continues to take swipes at me every time she sees me at a board meeting. She supports my candidate against me in the Democratic primary. She is attacking me. I don’t have a fixation with her. She has a fixation with me. I am happy to have my record speak for itself,” Peraica said, not hesitating to slam her husband Gerry Gorman and to question their past financial dealings with an auto dealership they owned.
If Peraica really didn’t have anything to do with Thompson running against Gorman and if he doesn’t care about Gorman, then he should publicly repudiate Thompson and his campaign and publicly point a finger at Thompson and Swiss and blame them for the mess.
I don’t think that is going to happen.
PERAICA’S EMAIL IN RESPONSE TO HIS SEEING
THIS COLUMN BEFORE IT WAS PUBLISHED:
THIS COLUMN BEFORE IT WAS PUBLISHED:
Thanks for the call back and discussion.
The title and premise of this piece is wrong. The purpose of my call was to challenge your assertion that "Peraica always makes an enemy of a friend," not to "obsess over Cmr. Gorman."
Liz Gorman is a non-issue, as far as I am concerned. She has her record to run her race on, and I have mine. She has her associations and supporters, and I have mine. I do not wish to engage with her or you in that kind of back and forth.
These are the facts regarding the Thompson v. Gorman primary race.
The State Board of Election examiner's report is filled with innuendo, speculation and fiction concocted by Gerry and Liz Gorman, and advanced by Todd Stroger's attorney, Burt Odelson.
Thompson decided to challenge Gorman in the primary for commissioner position, while running for re-election as GOP committeeman.
I had two opponents in the primary, recruited, endorsed and financially supported by Liz Gorman: Mr. Pittacora, who ran as a GOP committeeman candidate against me, and, Mr. Sloan who ran against me for commissioner. Ms Gorman, and her husband Gerry Gorman, actively and diligently worked on behalf of both Mr. Pittacora and Mr. Sloan, along with Stroger's supporters: Cmr. Joseph Mario Moreno, Ron Serpico and Larry Dominick (all democrats) in order to try to defeat me.
[HANANIA COMMENTS: This assertion is typical of Peraica’s exaggerations for political benefit. Dominick is an independent not a Democrat and was a Republican all his life. So the name-calling is unjustified. Though Moreno is a Democrat and Serpico may be, the fact is they were UNINVOLVED in the Gorman race.]
We defeated both of our opponents by roughly a 75%-25% margin.
When both Mr. Thompson and Ms. Gorman appeared in front of Republican Organization of Lyons Township (ROLT), they were both given a chance to address the assembled members. Mr. Thompson was almost unanimously endorsed over Liz Gorman for commissioner position. Both ROLT and I, therefore, put Mr. Thompson on our sample ballot, put up some of his signs and did what we normally do for all of our endorsed GOP candidates.
Since both Cmr. Gorman, Cmr. Moreno and other democrats circulated petitions for and supported my opponents Pittacora and Sloan, I attended a Mark Thompson fundraiser and donated $250 to him on November 30, 2009. This is the only donation that I made to Mr. Thompson. I endorsed and supported Mark Thompson in his races for commissioner and committeeman.
Due to the vigorous opposition from Mr Pittacora and Sloan against me, financed and directed largely by Gormans, I had to expend substantial effort and money to run my own races in the primary and did not focus at all on the Thompson/Gorman contest.
In January 2010, I purchased a current list of all emails from GOP Media owned by Tom Swiss in order to get my information out via email to all GOP voters in the 16th district. I paid $1000 to GOP Media for the compilation and transmission of the list. What GOP Media or Mr. Swiss did with the $1000 thereafter, I do not know, or care. GOP Media provided a service to our campaign and we paid GOP Media an agreed price of $1,000. This was not a "disguised" donation to anyone else.
Ms Gorman and Mr. Moreno bought and paid for Pittacora and Sloan signs, postage and literature against me, but I simply wrote it off as a political campaign move, acknowledged it, and did not file frivolous State Board of Election charges that do nothing but cost taxpayers unnecessary expense.
Commissioners Moreno and Gorman chose to file these frivolous charges against Thompson in order to drag my name through the mud, not with expectation of doing anything to Thompson.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: Peraica is secondary in the examiner’s report and I urge everyone to read it fully. Peraica is mentioned towards the bottom.]
As a journalist, you should always consider both sides, and not simply accept one sided allegations and accusations of political opponents.
The State Board of Election will have a fact finding hearing sometime later this year and all of this will be fleshed out in a contested adversarial hearing where both sides will have a chance to present their evidence and arguments via their respective counsels.
It will not be a one-sided conclusion by a politically appointed state "examiner", a non-attorney, who took only one-sided allegations presented by Todd Stroger's/Com Gorman's attorney Burt Odelson.
I will not denounce Thompson or any other candidate who chooses to run in a open, free, democratic primary races. That is called democracy. I support good-government candidates, and oppose those who are not. Mr. Thompson is a good-government candidate, and Cmrs. Gorman and Moreno are not.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: That’s why Peraica is so way off base, defending Thompson’s mudslinging viciousness and asserting it is “good government.”]
How candidates choose to run their campaigns is their business and they must be held accountable for what they do or say. I will not be held responsible for other candidates or their workers.
From what I remember, everything that Thompson said about Cmr. Gorman was true and accurate. In fact, there was a lot more that he could have said. But, that was his choice and he and his campaign should be held responsible. Not I.
It is interesting to note that Cmr. Moreno lost his race to his opponent Mr. Garcia as he obsessed over my races, while Cmr. Gorman barely beat Mr. Thompson in a very close race.
Both of my Moreno/Stroger/Gorman backed opponents, Pittacora and Sloan, were defeated overwhelmingly.
I hope that this clarifies some of the facts, and that you include them in the story as appropriate.
[HANANIA RESPONDS: It doesn’t. But in fairness to you, something you blogging pals do not offer themselves, I am willing to share your points.]