McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks broke his silence Thursday after a December court hearing where a Chicago printing press president said he had “reason to believe” the Marengo Democrat was involved in a dark-money smear campaign that called county Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio a “crook.”
“It’s much ado about nothing,” Franks told the Northwest Herald.
The chairman brushed off the name-drop as no big deal, but Tirio said the opposite.
“I disagree,” Tirio said.
The clerk and recorder is working with Woodstock attorney Philip Prossnitz to develop a legal strategy going forward.
“We’re still discussing exactly what to do next, and should have something shortly,” Tirio said.
On Dec. 21, Richard Lewandowski, president of Chicago-based Breaker Press, entered McHenry County court to face a contempt charge for refusing to comply with a court order requiring him to disclose the identities of the people who orchestrated a piece of campaign literature that called Tirio a “crook.”
At first, he declined to share the names, but after a recess – during which he and his Chicago attorney, Natalie Harris, left the courtroom – Lewandowski flipped.
He stood before McHenry County Judge Kevin Costello and named Michael Noonan – the former campaign director of Franks and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan – and Sean Tenner, a former aide of Barack Obama and Madigan, and owner of the political consulting firm KNI Communications, as the people behind the group.
Lewandowski said he had “reason to believe” Franks was involved after hearing he was through third parties. The Breaker Press president said he did not have direct conversations with Franks.
Campaign finance records revealed that Franks’ campaign organization paid $19,500 to Tenner’s company in April and May for data support, fundraising expenses and advertising.
Noonan and Tenner could not be reached for comment.