Sunday, November 15, 2009

Call In To Question

It's a truism in politics anywhere: they don't get you for the crime, they get you for the cover-up. The latest salvo of denials and rationalizations surrounding Lake County Board Chair Suzi Schmidt's fundraiser is making a crater deep enough that your LakeCountyEye wonders if anyone will be climbing out.

To recap, Lake County Board Chair Suzi Schmidt held a fundraiser on Thursday. A press release had 847-838-6200 as the RSVP number & County Board Member Linda Pedersen as the person to contact. As a matter of fact, 847-838-6200 is the official number to JoAnn Osmond's legislative office and Pedersen is Osmond's legislative aide.

This was followed by a not unexpected volley of accusations & efforts at damage control. The phone number and Pedersen's name were scrubbed off a calendar of events at the Lake County Republican Federation. Then an ethics complaint was filed against Pedersen by Lake County Democratic Party factotum, Nancy Shepherdson.

On Wednesday, Osmond told the NewsSun that her ...
office is located in a building that she owns. Osmond said she also owns the phones and doesn't accept any state money for the running of her office.
By Friday, Osmond was telling the Daily Herald that ...
Lake County Republican Party Chairman Dan Venturi included the number in an e-mail blast about the event. "He should have used the campaign phone number but in any case, the state does not pay for my office phone. I do"
Pedersen was echoing these remarks ...
"I am not running Suzi Schmidt's fundraiser," Pedersen said Thursday. "And the phone number was never intended to be used for people to RSVP."
It goes without saying that the first rule of damage control is get your story straight. You're less likely to be believed if everyone is saying something different. However, your LakeCountyEye perceives two distinct story-lines being pitched to the public:
  1. Using 847-838-6200 on the RSVP was an isolated mistake.
  2. And besides, public funds were not spent on Schmidt's fundraiser.
Now, while surfing The Google for this story, your LakeCountyEye noticed that the Lake County Republican Central Committee hosts a Golf Outing/fundraiser every year. In 2005 the contact person appears to have been been JoAnn Osmond's legislative aide, Linda Pedersen ... at 847-838-6200.

Republican Assembly of Lake County, Apr-Jun 2005, p.16

Your LakeCountyEye also noticed that Lake County Clerk Willard Helander holds regular fundraisers as well. The apparent contact for Helander's funder in 2005 would have been JoAnn Osmond ... at, you guessed it, 847-838-6200.

Republican Assembly of Lake County, Jan-Mar 2005, p.12

The second rule of damage control is when deciding on a story, stick with the one that best matches up with the facts. Pictures are worth 10,000 words. Your LakeCountyEye recommends sticking with story-line #2:
No harm no foul -- public funds were not spent to promote Suzi Schmidt's fundraiser.
This one is more Google-resistant than story-line #1.


Old Oak said...

Holy Schmidt! You get the 2009 Bang-Zoom Award, BB! You rock.

Anonymous said...

I found another one!

Osmond used her own legislative office number for her 9-26-08 fundraiser!

Anonymous said...

Amazing, the levels of incompetence on the R side of the equation grow and grow.

Anonymous said...

I think Dan Venturi dropped in the spammer comment above. It's sad that blowing smoke is the only response we get from these goombas.

Now we see a pattern of misuse of state resources at Osmond's office. Time for her to go.

LC Truth said...

This place needed some tidying up -- the spam has been removed, Anon 8:14

Anonymous said...

Even if the phone number is paid for by Suzi, is it ever answered by an on the clock state employee? Seems to me that it would ring primarily during business hours.

Anonymous said...

The phone number 847-838-6200 is used for both official and political reasons, how does the state employee that answers the phone know whether the call is political or official business?

Nicki said...

Nice work, Barney. This is simply indefensible. I don't care if Osmond goes with story line 1, or 2, or 200 - there's no explanation that can make the inappropriateness of using her legislative office, and presumably her legislative staff, go away. The only way it's not illegal is if her office, her phone line, and all her staff are paid out of campaign funds. And if that's the case, I'm glad I don't live in the 61st District, because clearly Osmond's top priority is politics rather than representation.

Anonymous said...

OK, I understand why some would get upset over this, but if the state is not paying for the phone lines, I am not sure what expenses were paid for with state dollars. Now, I agree that it would make sense to have a dedicated campaign line just to not have perception of wrongdoing, but if no state dollars used I dont have issue with it.

Nicki said...

Anonymous, one of the problems is staffing. If any of Osmond's office staff has a salary paid by the state, and that person answers the legislative phone line for a call that's actually political, that's an illegal use of state funds. Now, political phone calls do come in to legislative offices from time to time by accident, but to deliberately use a legislative phone line for political purposes is inappropriate. And I don't believe that every expense associated with Osmond's legislative office comes out of her own funds. Legislators do receive an allowance from the state to run their district offices, and I doubt she's turned hers down.

Crazy4glf said...

I would think that Legislators get a set amount of funds for official expenses: paper clips, gas, rent, and/or phone lines.

While the State may not have written the check to the phone company - using the anti-choice approach to life the GOP seems to like - there are most-likely state funds going toward Ms. Osmond's office phone.
She is not serving out of the kindness of her heart.