Part Four of a CountyLeaks series on numerous ethical and public interest questions surrounding DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin's reappointment of Federation of Illinois Young Republicans Executive Director Chris Hage to the DuPage County Election Commission for $27,500 annually plus health care benefits...
This Saturday, the Illinois Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA), not to be confused with the Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA) of Illinois, will host a convention in Cronin's hometown of Elmhurst featuring George P. Bush, not to be confused with George H. W. Bush nor George W. Bush.
CountyLeaks' sources claim that Cronin and Hage have been attempting a behind-the-scenes takeover of the RNHA of Illinois for several years, raising additional concerns of ongoing partisanship and political activism of the electoral board's vice chairman. Citizen watchdogs assert that an election commissioner should give the appearance of impartiality and not have conflicts of interest.
The DuPage County Board Chairman should never have appointed, watchdogs underline, someone to the Election Commission who has engaged in political maneuvers for control of the RNHA.
Rivadeneira y el zapateado rápido
While running in the 2010 Republican primary for state representative, 41st district, the campaign for social and fiscal conservative Rafael Rivadeneira sent out a mailer criticizing several Republican leaders for approving tax hikes.
One of those leaders was State Senator Dan Cronin who was running for chairman of the DuPage County Board. Rivadeneira's campaign mailer read: Enough is Enough - No Tax Hikes! These candidates and Party leaders call themselves conservative? ...Dan Cronin voted to raise the sales tax to bail out the CTA...
According to various reports, Rivadeneira said the mailer and his platform of lower-tax, anti-corruption, anti-establishment, pension-reform, more transparency and accountability didn't sit well with Cronin. Rivadeneira later led a campaign to be appointed to the Senate opening left by Cronin following the November 2010 election. Downers Grove Mayor Ron Sandack was chosen. Rivadeneria claims Cronin never called him for an interview.
The story may have ended there had Rivadeneira not been chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Illinois whose leadership seemed too conservative for el good-ol'-boy amigos Cronin and Hage.
Republican leaders wishing to gain or stay in power need support of the RNHA. The reality check would come in the form of 2010 census data showing an upswing of Latino population growth in DuPage County and Illinois.
Later, Capitol Fax's Rich Miller wrote post-election 2012, "According to exit polling, 81 percent of Illinois Latinos voted for President Obama this past Tuesday. That trend presumably resonated all the way down the ticket. DuPage County is now almost 14 percent Latino, which could be why the Democratic Party did so well there this year."
"If the Republican Party wants to get back into the game, they’d better stop dismissing and attacking Latinos. They simply cannot win contested races in this state if Latinos vote in large numbers and go 81 percent Democratic," Miller concluded.
Spooked by the exit polling, Illinois Republicans must now romance votes of the "19 percent".
Yet any criticism of Rivadeneira and attempts to seize control of the RNHA must be handled delicately with no trace to Republican Party leaders -- particularly one pinning his hopes and dreams on the governor's mansion.
Los hombres sabios dicen "solo los tontos se enamoran tan rápido"
Details of the "goon squad's deployment" against RNHA of Illinois were described by Chicago attorney and conservative writer, Doug Ibendahl, and Champion News' Rick Newton.
Hage, who had served as the RNHA of Illinois' general counsel, along with Angel Garcia of the State GOP's Central Committee, Steve Orlando, a leader within the Federation of Illinois Young Republicans with Hage, and Mark Aguilera, National Committeeman for the RNHA Illinois and Vice President of the Cook County RNHA, had their own agenda for the RNHA of Illinois convention held in February 2011 -- overriding the parliamentarian and hijacking the event.
Olga Pereira, who had just been elected Second Vice-Chair of the RNHA of Illinois, summarized her account in a letter addressed to various authorities, alleging threat and intimidation by former DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney Hage in retaliation of support for Rivadeneira.
A stranger-than-fiction YouTube clip with nearly 4,000 hits orbits of the blundered RNHA putsch at the Comfort Inn in Dixon, the boyhood hometown of both Hage and The Gipper. Police were called to escort Hage and the insurgency away. The revolutionaries' attempt to appear spontaneous was stymied by seeking refuge in their reserved room at Dixon's Loveland Community House.
Play-by-plays sent to Illinois Review before, during and after the turmoil prompted a reader to respond, "This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read in my life..."
The saga continued...
Fast forward to Jan. 22, 2013: Steve Orlando and the Illinois Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly v. Rafael Rivadeneira and the Republican National Assembly of Illinois, Inc. was filed in the 18th District Circuit Court. The lawsuit's purpose was twofold: a cease and desist demand which would impact the RNHA of Illinois' convention last January and to prohibit use of the RNHA trademark.
Sources claim that it was no accident the lawsuit was brought to DuPage County. Hage was the former general counsel of the RNHA of Illinois. The plaintiff, Orlando, currently serves as an officer on Federation of Illinois Young Republicans with Hage; Orlando is treasurer and Hage is executive director.
Attorney Christine Svenson has made at least one appearance representing Orlando. Svenson, president of the Illinois Republican National Lawyers' Association, endorsed Hage in his campaign for state rep and has RSVPed to Saturday's convention. Hage is among a handful of DuPage County attorneys who belong to Svenson's association.
Chicago attorney Mark Stern filed this brief on behalf of Rivadeneira and the Republican National Assembly of Illinois, Inc. The first part of the lawsuit was dismissed prior to Rivadeneira's RNHA of Illinois' convention last January.
The hearing for the trade mark is scheduled April 8th. An appeal would land in the DuPage-government-friendly Second District Appellate Court in Elgin.
Toma mi mano, toma toda mi vida también
Listings of this weekend's "RNHA Illinois - Whatever" convention speakers and "official" event registrants show a gathering of political supporters of both Cronin and Hage, including: Steve Orlando; Angel Garcia; Mark Aguilera; Rick Veenstra, co-chair of the Young Republicans National Federation and a DuPage County Asst. State's Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Civil Bureau, manager of the State's Attorney's Governmental Affairs and Special Litigation Division, and advisor/conduit to numerous DuPage County boards and commissions including the Election Commission and the Ethics Commission; and Evelyn Pacino Sanguinetti, councilwoman at-large, City of Wheaton.
DuPage County Chairman Cronin and DuPage County Election Commission Vice Chair Chris Hage are attending, as well.
Make a difference. Attend the next DuPage County Board meeting and voice your opinions in public comment:
DuPage County Board - Tuesday, April 9th, 10 am - DuPage County Board Meeting, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton
With Hage on the Election Commission, will Rivadeneira ever get a place on a DuPage ballot again? Will the staples used on petitions pass inspection?
Does Cronin think it's okay for an election commissioner to be participating in these political activities? If yes, why?
Will Cronin instruct political ally Hage to use the kitchen entrance of the Diplomat West Banquet Hall this Saturday and hide behind a potted palm or go incognito to dodge CountyLeaks' vast spy network?
Ay ay ay, what would the Asst. State's Attorney advisor recommend to the DuPage County Ethics Commission about all this? No wait -- Rick Veenstra is speaking at Saturday's "RNHA Illinois - Whatever" convention with Cronin! Phew, once again the bases are covered! Yes! (Btw...is the photo of the wedding party showing Hage as his groomsman on Veenstra's fireplace mantel?)
Are 81% of Latinos in Illinois really Democratic or do they just think Republican candidates are loco?
Is it true that DuPage County Election Commission Vice Chair Hage prepared the lawsuit against Rivadeneira and the RNHA of Illinois filed in DuPage County in January? Or did he just help to prepare it with Christine Svenson? Again, is this all okay with Cronin as long as no one in his circle gets caught?
Why is Christine Svenson representing Steve Orlando and the "RNHA Illinois - Whatever"? Svenson, president of the Illinois Republican National Lawyers' Association, endorsed Hage in his campaign for state rep and has RSVPed to Saturday's convention.
Where is the line here between politics and good government? Should someone serving on the Election Commission be held to a higher standard than those serving on other boards, especially if that person is also an attorney? Is the Election Commission a good place for Cronin to put cronies? Is nothing sacred?
If you're trying to win the hearts and minds of Latinos, is it a smart strategy to host your political convention on Holy Saturday? ¿Podría ser un pecado?
Will the "RNHA Illinois - Whatever" Convention scheduled on Holy Saturday observe the Paschal Fast? Instead of politics, will all devout Catholic attendees be absorbed in prayer, reading of Scripture, reflection, attention to the needs of others in preparation for the great Vigil and Easter?
Why did Cronin hold his St. Paddy's Day Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner fundraiser on a Friday during Lent?
Because so many of the registrants of "RNHA Illinois - Whatever" convention also attended Hage's All Pork & No Bean Counter fundraiser, wouldn't this be a good opportunity to ask around about those undisclosed contributions and expenditures?
Why did Citizens for Dan Cronin pay Hage $1,250 on Oct. 1, 2009 for legal assistance? Why did the lawyer lawyer-up?
Because Hage holds such deep convictions against government boards and commissions paying generously for part-time work, should Cronin put him out of his misery and abolish his salary and benefits for his Election Commission position? Or would this draw too much attention to Cronin's own bloated salary for his part-time work on a Board while he maintains his law firm partnership? Como un río que fluye al mar amor, así es mi amor,
algunas cosas están destinadas a pasar...