The candidate who said that he wore a wire at the request of the FBI last month during a meeting with state Sen. Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview) has survived a challenge to his nominating petitions.
On Jan. 17 the Chicago Board of Elections rejected a challenge to the nominating petitions of Raul Montes Jr. and ordered that his name be placed on the ballot in the Democratic primary in the race for the Illinois state senate seat in the 12th District.
But the man challenging Montes’ petitions is appealing that ruling. At a hearing Tuesday morning a Cook County judge said he will hear arguments on that appeal at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in room 1704 of the Richard J. Daley Center in downtown Chicago.
Montes is challenging Landek, who also is the mayor of Bridgeview, in the new 12th District which will include most of Riverside and all of Brookfield in addition to other nearby suburbs and a part of the Southwest Side of Chicago.
Montes’ nominating papers were challenged by Gary Crossman, a resident of Bridgeview who works as the manager of community services for the village of Bridgeview. Crossman was represented in his challenge to Montes nominating papers by well-known election lawyer Burt Odelson.
Odelson argued before the electoral board that Montes’ nominating papers were invalid, because political consultant David Donahue made a few written corrections on Montes’s nominating papers after the papers had been notarized and numbered.
While the hearing officer for the electoral board recommended that Montes’ petitions be ruled invalid due to the late changes, which were technical in nature, the board unanimously declined to accept that recommendation and ruled that the papers were valid despite the changes that Donahue made.
“The election board finds that statement of candidacy would have been legally sufficient even without Mr. Donahue’s additional language and markup,” the electoral board said in its written ruling.
According to testimony at the hearing before the hearing officer, Donahue inserted the letters “TH” after the numeral 12 in two locations on the nominating papers and inserted the words “Legislative District” and the number “12” in the district box on the papers. He also circled the word “city” once and the word “nomination” twice in the body of the statement. The nominating papers were not notarized again after these changes were made.
But the electoral board ruled that the changes were de minimis, or inconsequential.
“Had Mr. Donahue not inserted the additional language or markups to the candidate’s statement of candidacy, such statement would still have been in substantial compliance with the requirements … of the election code,” the electoral board wrote.
The electoral board ruled that since Montes’ papers would have been valid even without the minor corrections, the failure to have the papers notarized again after the changes were made was not enough to knock Montes off the ballot.
“I can say that justice prevailed at the Board of Elections hearing,” Montes said at a press conference the day after the ruling. There was only one reporter and five supporters of Montes present at the press conference, which was held at a Mexican restaurant on the Southwest Side of Chicago.
Montes, who works as a substitute teacher and is a community activist, is not likely to pose a significant threat to Landek in the primary.
“I know I’m the underdog,” Montes said.
Last week Odelson told a WGN television news reporter that he planned to appeal the Election Board’s ruling to the Cook County Circuit Court, but Odelson did not respond to telephone calls from the Landmark requesting comment. Landek also did respond to a call from the Landmark requesting comment.
In December, Montes met with Landek at Toyota Park in Bridgeview where he says Landek offered him money and a job on the Landek campaign and mentioned the possibility of a job on Landek’s state senate staff if Montez would withdraw from the primary race.
Montes said he wore a recording device during the meeting that was given to him by two FBI agents that he met with prior to the meeting. A spokesman for the FBI would not confirm or deny that the FBI equipped Montes with a recording device or asked him to record his conversation with Landek.
Landek was appointed to his seat representing the 11th District in the state senate in February 2011, after the retirement of longtime state Sen. Lou Viverito.
He is running for election for the first time as a state senator in the new 12th District, which includes Riverside north of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks, most of Brookfield south of 31st Street, large portions of Berwyn and Cicero and portions of Chicago’s Southwest Side, in addition to his hometown of Bridgeview.