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Streit takes responsibility after warning from Board of Elections

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

 

An Oak Lawn trustee who has pointed out political transgressions of others on the board was caught up in a possible misstep of his own.

A May 18 ruling by the Illinois Board of Elections against the campaign committee of Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) led resident Norman Lupescu to berate Streit at the May 26 Village Board meeting.

Lupescu, a 31-year resident of Oak Lawn, filed the complaint against Friends of Bob Streit and raised the issue when the floor was opened to public comment.

The Board of Elections found that Friends of Bob Streit violated the Campaign Finance Act by not including legally required disclosure language on emails, mailers and on its website.

The organization was told simply to follow the rules in the future, otherwise, it could face possible fines up to $5,000.

However, the Board of Elections also found that fundraising email that was sent to Oak Lawn employees at their official email addresses may violate “election interference” provisions of the Campaign Finance Act related to political solicitation.  The board advised referring that complaint to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.   

After Lupescu repeatedly called Streit a “liar” and “thief” during his time at the podium, Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) asked Mayor Sandra Bury to stop him.

“We’re all elected officials. We don’t have to listen to this,” said Olejniczak, who is frequently at odds with Streit.

“Well, it is public comment,” said Bury, before stopping Lupescu when he reached the three-minute time limit.   

Streit made no comment on the ruling until after Bury brought up the issue of emails being sent to employees in her report.

“Nice job, getting him up to the podium for a three-minute assault on me,” Streit told the mayor sarcastically.

“If that was one of your allies (being attacked), you wouldn’t have allowed it,” he added.

“I will take responsibility for everything I did,” said Streit, acknowledging that campaign literature had been emailed without the notation directing readers to the website for financial disclosure information.

He said the campaign solicitation was sent to employee emails “erroneously,” adding that he wasn’t the only candidate to send that type of material.

“I have a stack of emails here (from other candidates),” he said.  

Streit blamed the errors, in part, on this being his first time using social media and email, rather than just relying on printed campaign material to get his message out.

The trustee also pointed out that although Lupescu filed the complaint, he was represented by attorney Jim Nally at the hearing, and did not attend.

“I wonder who paid for him,” said Streit, referring to Nally as the mayor’s attorney.

“He’s not my attorney. He has represented you, too,” said Bury.

“It’s obviously personal and political,” said Streit, questioning why his case was singled out for attention when the mayor and several trustees have been cited and fined by the Board of Elections for more serious offenses involving finances. 

Lupescu, who left the meeting before Streit spoke, said later that he stayed away from the hearing to avoid getting into arguments.

“I don’t have to say who paid for the attorney. That is privileged,” he added.

Lupescu said he felt Streit “just got a slap on the wrist,” adding that he plans to speak at the next Village Board meeting, which takes place Tuesday.

“It’s not just (Streit) I’ve had problems with. I’ve spoken against Mayor Heilmann and a lot of the trustees. I’m a Vietnam veteran, and I fought for my right to free speech,” he said.