A complaint filed with the Illinois Board of Elections that alleges McHenry County Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio failed to report an in-kind contribution is likely to be heard before the full board Aug. 21, spokesman Matt Dietrich said.
The complaint, filed by Rachael Lawrence – former treasurer of the Republican Central Committee of McHenry County and a current Algonquin Township board trustee – alleges that Tirio’s campaign committee did not disclose that a $1,200 payment to Tirio’s attorney for a defamation lawsuit against a dark money group known as the Illinois Integrity Fund came from the Republican Central Committee.
This allegation comes in spite of the fact that Tirio said during testimony in a similar complaint filed last year that he would pay his own legal fees in the defamation suit, which Lawrence said may have amounted to perjury.
Lawrence included in her complaint an invoice from Tirio’s attorney, Phil Prossnitz, calling the $1,200 a retainer and saying “to represent Mr. Joseph Tirio in a potential lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for defaming, libeling and slandering the good name of Joseph Tirio during the March 2018 primary in McHenry County.”
She also provided a check for $1,200 that went from the Republican Central Committee to Prossnitz. The check was dated April 10, 2018, and names Prossnitz as the recipient, with “Illinois Integrity Fund” written in the memo line.
To show that he was paying his own legal fees, Tirio provided a redacted cashier’s check to the Northwest Herald showing a payment of $2,000 from his personal account to Prossnitz.
A closed session hearing between both parties and an administrative hearing officer to help determine whether the complaint was made on justifiable grounds was held Friday.
Lawrence said she thought the hearing went well and is hopeful that the administrative hearing officer will make the appropriate decision.
Tirio said he was “very optimistic” after the hearing.
Dietrich said that after a closed session, the hearing officer should make a recommendation to the full board within a few days to give board members an idea on how the merits of the case are being judged.
Barring any scheduling conflicts, Dietrich said Friday’s closed hearing likely will appear as an agenda item at the board’s next monthly meeting Aug. 21.
At that point, Dietrich said the board will hear the complaint in closed session, where both the complainant and respondent will have a chance to plead their cases. The board then will decide whether the complaint was filed on justifiable grounds.
If the elections board determines that the complaint was justified, the contents of the closed hearing become public, Dietrich said. The board also may make a recommendation to hold a public hearing about the complaint.
However, Dietrich said the board of elections lacks jurisdiction to perform any kind of enforcement of corrective measures to complaints.
In those cases, Dietrich said, the complainant is advised to consult with the state’s attorney to ensure remedies are enforced.
Ronald Eck Jr. filed similar complaints against Tirio’s campaign committee and the Republican Central Committee, but because they were based on information provided by unidentified people, the allegations were determined not to have been filed on justifiable grounds.