The smear machine gets rolling

By DOUG IBENDAHL • November 9, 2005


Well, that didn’t take long. Less than 24 hours after Topinka’s entry into the Governor’s race – the first smear campaign against a Republican candidate for Governor was launched. No surprise, its target was the leading reform candidate, Jim Oberweis.


Yesterday’s top local story was about a labor complaint filed against Jim Oberweis as Chairman of Oberweis Dairy. The complaint came from two undocumented workers from Mexico who allege they were underpaid while working here as cleaning staff. But the two workers were never Oberweis employees. Instead, they were employed by a janitorial company, which was in turn hired as a contractor by Oberweis Dairy to perform cleaning services at a few stores.


The complaint filed on behalf of the workers names Jim Oberweis, but not the contracted company that actually employed the two workers. Seems odd.


Jim Oberweis says this is nothing but a smear campaign, and we agree.


It’s interesting to note that the organization bringing the complaint on behalf of the two undocumented workers – the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant Rights – has partnered in the past with Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka’s office on various events and workshops.


Ok, maybe that’s just a coincidence. But one thing we all do know for certain:  smear campaigns are Topinka’s modus operandi.


It was just over a year ago that we all watched Topinka and her pal Jim Edgar at that press conference, where they barely contained their glee over the successful destruction of Jack Ryan by the Old Guard of his own Party. They said Ryan wasn’t honest enough with them in a phone call about what his now ex-wife had alleged in divorce filings regarding what the couple had done together within the confines of their marriage. And everyone knows that every Illinois politician has always volunteered every embarrassing tidbit from his or her own personal life.


That press conference on the issue of why Jack Ryan wasn’t good enough for the Illinois GOP had to be brief. Topinka was due to be on her float that same weekend in Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade, the huge annual open-air celebration of the gay lifestyle.


Such is the brave new world of tolerance for the Topinka “moderates” – they can demand to know the details of every alleged private conversation between a husband and wife (must check for possible embarrassments), but homosexual sodomy gets its own parade.


Topinka now fears that her shameless hypocrisy and dastardly political style may now come back to haunt her. Not to worry Judy, State GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, Jr. is here to run interference. 


McKenna said on Monday in conjunction with Topinka’s entry into the race that he would work hard to guarantee a civil campaign. McKenna promised that he would publicly take the mud-throwers to task. (Andy, we must have missed your press conference where you scolded your friend Bob Kjellander for his long history of public name-calling and bullying of good Republicans.)


But sources close to the Oberweis campaign tell us that Andy McKenna was asked yesterday to condemn this latest smear tactic. He reportedly refused.


We get it Andy. You and your Old Guard puppet-masters – the Jim Thompson’s, the Bob Kjellander’s, the Nancy Kimme’s, and the Topinka’s – you guys have your media friends and staff flunkies already lined-up. You can preach to the yokels about the 11th Commandment because your better-connected friends do their finest work behind the scenes.


It appears that when Topinka said that she was prepared for the “brutal fight” ahead – what she really meant was that she’s ready to punch first, and the hardest. A leopard simply can’t change her spots.


Watch out Steve Rauschenberger, they’ve got your number too. And you’ll be up next on Topinka’s Big Hit Parade.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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