A Chicago-based anti-tax organization says it will be filing a lawsuit “soon” against Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 for what it considers the inappropriate use of taxpayer money to advocate for a tax referendum defeated at the polls on April 5.
Christina Tobin, vice president of Taxpayers United of America, confirmed Friday afternoon that the lawsuit against RBHS will be filed, although she did not know precisely when that would happen.
On April 4, James Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America, wrote to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez alleging that “District 208 has illegally used public funds to run a political campaign on behalf of the referendum.”
Tobin listed 14 examples of funds being misused in his letter to Madigan, from the use of school computers to maintain pro-referendum volunteer lists to running a pro-referendum commercial on the school’s television station.
In a letter dated April 8 to Madigan and Alvarez, James Tobin expressed regret that no action had taken place as a result of his first letter and again urged their offices to act.
“Whether the state’s attorney is taking action or not, we’re taking action,” said Christina Tobin, who is the daughter of James Tobin. “I can’t go into too much detail, but essentially, the problem is that taxpayer resources were used to try to push this referendum through.
“The taxpayers defeated it, but that still doesn’t make it right that taxpayer dollars were wasted,” she added. “We want to set an example that it’s not going to be tolerated.”
Christina Tobin said the organization has retained the services of attorney Andrew Spiegel to draft the lawsuit.
“We’re meeting with him this weekend,” Tobin said.
Taxpayers United of America’s lawsuit against RBHS will be filed in conjunction with a separate complaint against Oak Park School District 97, Tobin said.
On April 5, Oak Park voters passed a tax increase for their elementary school district. Taxpayers United is expected to argue the result should be invalidated because the wording of the referendum question was misleading. The same wording was used in the referendum question on the ballot in District 208.
“These lawsuits against Oak Park and RB we hope will set a precedent that this will not be happening in the future,” Tobin said.
A call to District 208 school board President James Marciniak was not immediately returned.