IVN News

Ill. Libertarian Party Files Complaint Against GOP for Intimidating Petition Signers

As Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner receives unpleasant polling news, his state party may also face a federal investigation.

A few weeks ago, the Illinois Libertarian Party (LP) qualified for statewide ballot access, but on Friday, Illinois LP candidate for attorney general, Ben Koyl, formally filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. The complaint surrounds whether the Illinois Republican Party utilized intimidation tactics against petition signature collectors for the LP.

The Rauner campaign has long denied any connection to intimidation tactics. However, stories about armed men confronting LP ballot signers have circulated for months.

The Illinois Republican Party hired lawyer John Fogarty to challenge LP ballot signatures. Fogarty’s firm hired Morrison Security “to help build a case against the Libertarian petitions,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

After first saying it was normal for Morrison Security investigators to carry firearms on the job, the Illinois GOP later said, “We do not support the practice of any investigator wearing a firearm while verifying petition signatures.”

In his statement, Koyl said he is hoping the U.S. Department of Justice will:

“Investigate this matter to ensure that citizens who run for public office and those who assist them can exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of intimidation or deception.”

The Rauner campaign announced it was committed to seeing as many people participating in the political process as possible.

Koyl continued by saying:

“If this is true, we expect [Rauner] will ‘walk the talk’ and publicly announce his support to stop the Republican Party of Illinois’ continuing ballot-blocking efforts and welcome Libertarian candidates into all upcoming debates.”

Koyl earlier issued his complaints about intimidation to the Cook County State Attorney’s office and the Illinois Attorney General’s office, but received no response.

The news of a potential federal investigation for the Illinois GOP is only the first leg of trouble for Rauner’s campaign. After leading most polls since his primary victory in March, Rauner has found himself trailing incumbent governor Pat Quinn in a couple recent ones.

A Democratic Governors Association poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group shows Quinn leading among likely voters 43-40, with LP candidate Chad Grimm receiving 5 percent. It also shows Rauner failing to attract independents or lure Democrats to switch sides.

A separate Chicago Tribune poll also showed Quinn leading Rauner 48-37 with 5 percent for Grimm. Troubling Rauner in the Tribune poll is that Quinn is viewed as more trustworthy than him. Rauner, a political newcomer, has been criticized for tailoring his campaign to polling data.

Bruce Rauner is not implicated in any wrongdoing regarding intimidation, but it serves as a distraction in a campaign that is quickly tightening.

Photo: Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner / Sun-Times