We got a fun letter from the group that won't reveal their identities but is asking us to trust their judgment and vote to create a county executive.
The one-page letter, which asks us to look into a certain County Board member's background, is signed by the McHenry County Republicans for Lower Taxes. This is the group whose signs have been urging people to vote in favor of the county executive referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.
I'll spare you the letter's details, but let's just say it's funny having your journalistic courage questioned by people who do not have the courage to sign their names to an issue as trivial in the grand scheme of things as county politics.
But the letter gives me an excuse to shine the light of transparency on campaigning, so read on.
I have no idea if the letter is in fact from the organization. Because the McHenry County Republicans for Lower Taxes is a shadow group, there's no way to tell.
Who are they? Are they actually Republicans? Do they live in McHenry County? All good questions that I can't answer.
The group is not registered with the Illinois State Board of Elections, probably because it is below the $3,000 reporting threshold. On the other side of the transparency coin, the anti-executive group, No County Czar, is registered and their donation history and list of officers can be found here.
(As I blogged here, County GOP Chairman Mike Tryon says a team of lawyers is on hot standby the moment the group's identity becomes known, regarding the use of the county party's name.)
I'd love to investigate the claims outlined in the group's letter, but there are several impediments to my doing so:
• I typically follow the rule, which I remember through rhyme, that I'll examine your claim if you give me your name.
• This is the week before the election, and any journalist with half a brain handles any attempt at last-minute political bombshells like a nitroglycerin figurine. Such last-minute bombshells happen so often that the Thursday before an election – the best time for a campaign to sling muck and catch an opponent off-guard – is called "Dirty Tricks Thursday" in my line of work.
• I belong to McHenry County Investigative Journalists for Letters Written At A High School Level Or Higher, and sorry to say, the anonymous letter we received falls far short of the minimum requirements set under MCIJFLWAAHSLOH bylaws. Example:
"You are the reporters perhaps [sic] you can connect these dots together yourself and do a reports [sic] job, investigate [sic]!" I've been a "reports" for the past 15 years, and I can't speak for all reports everywhere, but we reports find it's easier to understand tips when they're not written like the instructions on a packet of chopsticks.
All joking aside, the public deserves to know the identities of a group spending money to support a referendum that would mean a significant change of county governance. Doing it anonymously? Really? I guess I missed the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in which they hashed out the conditional use permit for the McHenry County Black Helicopter New World Order Re-Education Camp.
I called this blog "Opening Doors" for a reason – as I stated in my very first blog post, I am relentlessly biased in favor openness and government honesty, and I abhor any action to the contrary.
But that's not to say that I'm not above a bit of Illinois-style quid pro quo once in a while.
I'll make McHenry County Republicans for Lower Taxes a deal. Reveal yourselves and we'll talk about looking into the County Board member in question. And by "reveal yourselves," I mean all of you, not just the poor fellow who draws the short straw, unless the group's membership is in fact just one poor fellow.
And so we're clear, "reveal yourselves" means that I let my readers know your secret identities in print – Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Peter Parker. the whole shebang. Or you can out yourselves like Tony Stark did at the end of the first "Iron Man" movie – that was wicked cool.
Oh, and I absolutely have to have a McHenry County Republicans for Lower Taxes secret decoder ring. No decoder ring, no deal.
Don't let Tryon's threat of litigation bother you. If our Founding Fathers risked everything – and in many cases in fact lost everything – for our God-given right to liberty, what's talking to a few itty-bitty lawyers? Beats the heck out of facing a battalion of Redcoats.
My number and email address are below. I, and the voters whose best interests you say you support, can't wait to hear from you.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Senior Writer Kevin Craver's Reveal Your Secret Identity Hotline can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 815-526-4618.