By Nancy Thorner –
Political races are known for their nastiness and purposeful slander here in Illinois, but a race in IL District 58 between Republican Dr. Mark Neerhof and incumbent Rep. Scott Drury has become a scandal in itself and an example of what a legislator will do who wants to hold on to his seat.
Last month, incumbent Democrat Rep. Scott Drury (D-58), sued his opponent, Republican candidate Dr. Mark Neerhof, and several others Neerhof suppporters for slander. Rep. Drury is being represented by his dad, seeking a court-ordered halt of Neerhof’s campaign and an additional $9 million.
Although the judge denied Drury’s request for an emergency injunction a few weeks ago that would have effectively shut down Dr. Neerhof’s campaign, the final verdict was to be issued on Monday, October 20. When before the judge, Drury’s lawyer asked for more time, as he hadn’t had a chance to renew the motion. The judge delayed making a determination of the “motion to dismiss” until November. In essence, Drury’s lawsuit against Neerhoff has become a non-issue.
Dr. Neerhof said the lawsuit was baseless and emphasized how uncommon it is for an incumbent legislator to sue his political challenger. If every legislator would sue for every purposeful slanderous statement (or half-truths) made against him/her by their opponent, the elections process would be caught up in litigation even before the voting public had a chance to evaluate the candidates.
“In that the core group of Republicans is growing in the IL House and Senate, with a good possibility that more Republicans will be elected in November, Democrats, seeing their control slipping away if more Republican legislators are elected despite super majorities in both Houses, are determined not to allow this to happen,” Neerhof said. “Democrats have been in control of the IL General Assembly for decades; it has been their livelihood. They will pull out all the stops to win.”
The lawsuit instigated by Drury against Dr. Neerhof’s campaign, originated from an independently-funded, third-party mailer that the Neerhof campaign says it had no knowledge of, nor participated in, in any way.
The mailer was sent out to voters in Democrat Scott Drury’s 58th IL District indicating that Drury was in support of the SB16 (School Funding Reform Act of 2014), which was passed by the top-heavy Democratic Senate in May of this year. If enacted, SB16 would make sweeping changes in how the state funds education and its apportionment among school districts. Those school districts with higher assessed property values would receive much less state funding, while other districts (like Chicago) would receive a sizable increase in funding, as an attempt by state legislators to provide greater equity among school districts across the state.
District 58 includes a number of North Shore school districts that would receive big cuts in their funding if the bill were passed. As such, Rep. Drury remains adamant that he will be voting “No” on SB16, although a public hearing has not yet been held on the bill. The House — including Rep. Drury — will not be officially voting for SB16 until sometime in November, following the fall election.
Here are some facts to consider as to how Rep. Drury might vote on SB16 when House members do vote on the bill after the election.
- House Leader, Mike Madigan, has given Rep. Drury nearly a quarter of a million dollar for a cash advantage over Neerhof. Perhaps Speaker Madigan has assured Drury that he doesn’t have to vote with Democrats on this issue, as he has enough votes to pass SB16 without Drury’s “yes” vote?
- How does Rep. Drury explain away his campaign donation of $14,000 by the “Illinois Network for Charter Schools” ?
- How does Rep. Drury explain away his campaign donation of $10,000 by “Illinois Stand for Children” ?
Both of these organization support SB16 in keeping with: Every child deserves an education system with funding equity and fairness.