By DOUG IBENDAHL • September 29, 2011
We can all certainly be understanding of a person dealing with personal family issues. Anyone can sympathize.
But the facts in this case go well beyond the personal and even beyond a nasty domestic disturbance between spouses.
Suzi Schmidt is a State Senator and before that she was Chairwoman of the Lake County Board.
She’s heard in recorded 911 calls inappropriately trying to leverage her political or official position to influence the action of law enforcement authorities. There’s no other reasonable interpretation. She may or may not have crossed the line into illegality. But at a minimum it’s wrong and completely unacceptable for an elected official – especially a Republican.
There are also the political ramifications of course. You won’t hear the Democrats calling for Schmidt to step down. They’re praying Illinois Republicans do what they usually do – blindly circle the wagons around a Republican friend. For the Democrats it’s just one more piece of low hanging fruit they’ll pick in November 2012.
The right thing to do – and the smart thing politically – would be for Schmidt to step down now and a replacement selected to finish out her term. That person – and any other interested candidate – should start circulating petitions now for the new term.
Ms. Schmidt’s husband may be the biggest cad in the universe. I have no idea. But he’s not a State Senator and he’s not on our payroll (as far as I know). She is. I also have ears and have listened to the tapes. Senator Schmidt cannot spin her way out of this one by pointing fingers at her husband. It’s clear from the recordings that neither one comes out with clean hands in this.
But the bottom line for me is that I don’t want someone making laws for me who has tried to use her current and/or former official position in a very inappropriate way for her selfish benefit.
A State Senator who reportedly rammed her vehicle multiple times into her spouse’s vehicle makes me 100 times more concerned.
Should the rest of us really be forced to pay this person a big state salary and bloated pension benefits? Can the Illinois GOP claim with a straight face this is the appropriate person to be writing legislation and passing our laws? Seriously?
It sounds like the Schmidts have some marital issues they need to address. We obviously all wish the best for them. I would just hope that Senator Schmidt would do the right thing for her constituents and her Party by stepping aside from her state office where she can hopefully deal with those issues – in private and off of our dime.
Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.