Updated 1/11/12 3:55 p.m.
State Senator Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview) reportedly offered his primary opponent a job if he would drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination in the 12th District.
The offer came during a meeting Landek had with Raul Montes Jr. on Dec. 29 in the village of Bridgeview’s suite at Toyota Park. In addition to being a state senator, Landek is the mayor of Bridgeview.
Montes, a community activist from the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, says that Landek offered him $3,000 as well as a job.
“He asked me to withdraw my candidacy,” said Montes, who is challenging Landek for the Democratic nomination in the new 12th District which includes Riverside north of the railroad tracks and most of Brookfield. “To the best of my recollection he offered me $3,000, and then he said, ‘I could offer you a $30,000 job in the senate to work for me. You don’t even have to go to Springfield.'”
Montes says that he was wearing a recording device during the meeting at the request of the FBI.
The story was first reported by Fox Chicago News and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Landek was appointed the state senate in 2010 to replace Sen. Lou Viverito who retired. In the redistricting process last year, Landek’s district was re-drawn by lawmakers and will include most of Riverside north of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks and most of Brookfield south of 31st Street.
Landek did not respond to a call to his office Wednesday afternoon asking for comment. Fox Chicago News reported that Landek confirmed to them that he did meet with Montes at Toyota Park but otherwise had no comment.
Well-known election lawyer Burt Odelson says that he took a phone call from his friend Landek and advised him that it was perfectly legal for Landek to offer Montes a job for dropping out of the race.
“I talked to Steve in the middle of the meeting,” said Odelson, who is also representing a challenger to Montes’ nominating petitions. “Steve offered him a position on his campaign committee to help him in the campaign.
“Steve and I talked about this before he did it, because [Montes] did pass a lot of petitions and he did it all himself, and you can’t find people like that anymore who do that hard work.
“Especially, he lives in an area that’s new to Steve’s district. He’s Hispanic. It makes all the sense in the world to get young blood involved in the organization. Additionally, if you can get your opponent off the ballot, you get him off the ballot.”
Odelson said Landek did nothing wrong in offering Montes a job.
“It goes on every single day in politics,” Odelson said, “from every level of government including the judiciary. Steve offered a job on his campaign staff, and if that worked out he would consider him to work on his senate staff. … And it would save a lot of money not having to run against somebody run against him, even though Steve is going to beat him 80/20 or 75/25. He’s not a serious challenger. He lives with his parents in the basement.”
Montes took offense to Odelson’s comment that he lives in his parents’ basement. Montes said that while he does live with his parents in a two-flat, he does not live in the basement.
“They are just trying to discredit me,” Montes said.
Montes says that early last month he had a request from a political consultant to meet at a Chicago restaurant. He said the consultant offered him thousands of dollars and job with the Landek campaign if Montes would withdraw from the race.
A week or so after that meeting, Montes said that he contacted the FBI. Montes says that he received a voicemail message from Landek on Christmas Eve in which Landek said that he wanted to meet with Montes.
Montes, 36, said that Landek called him again on Dec. 27 and the meeting was set for Dec. 29. The day before the Toyota Park meeting, Montes said he met with FBI agents and they outfitted him with a wire and asked him to record his meeting with Landek.
The Dec. 29 meeting at Toyota Park took place in the afternoon and lasted about two-and-a-half hours Montes said.
A spokesman for the FBI refused to confirm or deny that they had any dealings with Montes.
“Our policy is not to discuss cases we might be investigating in or through the media unless an arrest is made or charges are filed,” said Ross Rice of the FBI’s Chicago office.
Rice also refused to say whether the FBI was investigating Landek.@