Elections Board grants Rush challenger’s subpoenas; circulator and notary expected to testify

 

By AARON GETTINGER
Staff writer

The Illinois State Board of Elections has allowed two of congressional candidate Sarah Gad’s six subpoenas for testimony from a petition circulator and notary public working for Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-1st) re-election campaign.

J. Michael Tecson will hold a hearing on “all remaining matters in this case” on Friday, Jan. 3, at 1 p.m. at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Suite 14-100. In a Dec. 26 email to Gad and Rush’s attorney Scott Erdman, Tecson said he may “issue an order accordingly” if he decides the pending motion to dismiss “are dispositive of the remaining issues.”

Harvey Cook circulated more than 40 petition sheets for Rush upon which his signatures differ from the one on his voter registration card; some sheets also lack a date or affidavit or list an incorrect address. Gad’s campaign subpoenaed his testimony and an examination of his driver’s license or other government-issued identification.

Darva Watkins was the notary for 267 petition sheets to which Gad’s campaign objects because of substantial noncompliance with the state election code “or a demonstrable pattern of tampering, fraud and/or notary misconduct.” Gad’s campaign argues that Watkins notarized undated and improperly labeled or verified sheets and subpoenaed her testimony and records.

The state denied subpoenas for 4 other circulators who contributed 20 sheets Gad challenged over absent affidavits or dates, incorrect residences, duplicate page numbers or Watkins’ alleged misconduct, all because Watkins notarized them and has been ordered to testify.

In a statement, Gad said: “I am glad that the Board of Elections took our objections seriously. We’ve been saying from day 1 that the intent behind our objections is to restore integrity to the democratic process, and this is definitely a step in that direction.”

Rush’s campaign declined to comment. He has represented the 1st District, which covers all of Hyde Park-Kenwood except a small area of East Hyde Park, in Congress since 1993.

a.gettinger@hpherald.com