Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four
Part Five 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...
CountyLeaks' sources claim that Cronin and Hage have been attempting a behind-the-scenes takeover of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Illinois (RNHA) for several years, raising additional concerns of ongoing partisanship and political activism of the electoral board's vice chairman.
The latest development supporting Cronin's involvement was the entrance of his brother, Tom, in a court battle between two Illinois chapters of the RNHA. A newer "chapter", Illinois Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, is backed by Cronin and Hage. The established chapter embraces political rival and critic of Dan Cronin, Rafael Rivadeneira.
(To enlarge, click on the image)
On 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 had been representing Orlando until she withdrew in February. Svenson, president of the Illinois Republican National Lawyers' Association, endorsed Hage in his campaign for state rep. Hage is among a handful of DuPage County attorneys who belong to Svenson's association.
Last month, Chicago attorney Thomas Cronin was granted leave to file appearance for the plaintiffs without objection. Sources say he is planning to continue representation. This decision reportedly surprised the established RNHA Illinois, as the DuPage County Board Chairman had appeared to be publicly distancing himself from the attempted takeover.
Among the articles featuring the Cronin brothers pooling together was the 1995 Chicago Tribune's "Almost Kennedys". Tom Cronin was campaign manager for Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan in 1994 and DuPage County Board Chairman Gayle Franzen. In 1996, the younger Cronin brother lost to Joe Birkett in the heated primary for DuPage County State's Attorney. A twist of fate occurred fourteen years later when newly elected County Board Chairman Dan Cronin had the task of appointing Birkett's replacement for state's attorney.
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 next hearing for the trade mark is scheduled today in DuPage County at 9 am before Judge Bonnie Wheaton.
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 engages in political maneuvers with him for control of the RNHA Illinois, nor who serves as executive director of the Federation of Illinois Young Republicans.
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.
Details of a "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.
The saga continued...
Last March, the newly formed Illinois Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA), not to be confused with the Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA) of Illinois, hosted a convention in Dan Cronin's hometown of Elmhurst.
Listings of convention speakers and "official" event registrants showed 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.
Despite the posturing of the newer RNHA Illinois chapter supported by Cronin and Hage, the national organization continues to recognize the established RNHA chapter with Rivadeneira.
Make a difference. Attend the next board meetings of the DuPage County Election Commission and the DuPage County Board and voice your opinions in public comment:
DuPage County Election Commission - Thursday, May 23rd, 5 pm, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton
DuPage County Board - Tuesday, May 28th, 7 pm, 421 County Farm Road, Wheaton
If Dan Cronin hopes to distance himself from the RNHA of Illinois takeover, is it a good strategy to have his own hermano represent the plaintiffs?
Will Dan Cronin's hermano continue to represent the Illinois Chapter of the RNHA? Or will another political ally be selected?
Who is paying Dan Cronin's hermano?
Is this truly DuPage's version of Camelot?
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?
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?
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 also supports the RNHA Illinois - Whatever with Cronin and Hage! 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?)
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?
Is Cronin paying back Hage for his RNHA dirty work by appointing him to the Election Commission for $27,500 plus health care benefits?
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...