Sign wars head to court
The last column I write before Election Day is always the toughest because some papers will publish this before Election Day and others will publish it after. So today you get a yard sign story.
Let’s start with U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam’s campaign, which sent out two press releases during the fall campaign complaining about stolen yard signs.
It wasn’t a stolen sign that prompted a proposed temporary restraining order by an apparent supporter. Instead the fear of unwanted yard signs wound up in Lake County court.
A group called IL Citizens Ignited formed after one of Roskam’s constituents had two yard signs made to protest Roskam’s National Rifle Association support. She placed the signs, which read “Roskam accepted $20,450 from the NRA,” next to Roskam yard signs. The signs were updated after Roskam received more NRA money. Ignited has reported raising $4,420.
Ignited asks residents on its website to help the group find Roskam signs “in the public right of way,” or on a street corner or “along a busy road.” The group has an online form to fill out to report sign locations and it uses a Facebook page to spread the word.
Congressman Roskam was once a law partner in the personal injury firm Salvi, Roskam & Maher. That firm is now called Salvi & Maher and includes the husband-and-wife duo of former state Rep. Al Salvi and Kathy Salvi.
Kathy Salvi filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the group on Oct. 23 because, as she claimed through another attorney at her firm, she “fears that her property will be trespassed upon … and that her freedom of speech and political expression, especially as it relates to the free exclusion of the same on her own private property, will be violated by Ignited.”
Ignited’s response claimed that Salvi doesn’t live in Roskam’s district, so she shouldn’t be worried that her yard would be tagged. The judge dismissed the case.
But another TRO demand was filed a few days later against Ignited by a company that owns a shopping center in Lake Zurich. The motion was also filed by that same former Roskam firm.
The new filing claims that since Ignited has “incited, encouraged and/or instructed” incidents of trespass, and has already placed one of the anti-Roskam signs on the plaintiff’s property next to a pro-Roskam sign, it has reason to fear it could happen again.
U.S. Rep Roskam appeared at an event in August with the owner of the shopping center and called the owner and his spouse “dear friends,” according to the Daily Herald. The Roskam campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The plaintiffs have a point. Don’t put something on my property without my consent. I get that. But a lawsuit seems like a bit much.
Meanwhile, if you think that court action is a little excessive, how does a lawsuit seeking $1 million per removed yard sign sound? That’s the case filed in the 59th House District, where Dan Didech (D-Buffalo Grove) is running against Karen Feldman (R-Lincolnshire) in an open seat race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Carol Sente.
Feldman and two other local Republican candidates are suing Didech in his official capacity as Vernon Township supervisor and the township itself because they believe Didech ordered their yard signs removed.
They claim they “placed, or caused to be placed” yard signs in a park, which turns out to be near a polling place.
They allege that Didech had their Republican signs removed but not Democratic signs. The suit also claims Didech had no legal authority to remove anything. They’re asking $1 million for each sign “to punish them and to deter others from similar wrongful conduct.”
Feldman’s attorney told me that police reports have been filed and said the matter has been referred to the state’s attorney.
Now, if this is true and Didech abused his authority, he should face consequences. But I thought the GOP was for lawsuit reform.