Severin claims Bradley commercial is illegal political activity
Dave Severin, a Benton businessman aiming to win the state House seat in the 117th District, blasted his opponent, state Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), for an alleged illegal campaign ad that recently aired.
The Republican candidate cried foul on the political ad showcasing the Marion City Hall as the backdrop for the endorsement by Marion Mayor Bob Butler for Bradley. In the disputed campaign material, the incumbent representative was featured interacting with his constituents. While Severin had no qualms with the early portions of the clip, he found the part where Butler and Bradley were shot alongside the City Council chambers as an outright breach of an Illinois statute.
“After he endorsed Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014, it's clear Mayor Butler goes with who is currently in power, regardless of principles or record,” Severin pointed out in a statement regarding the issue, according to The Southern Illinoisan. “I don't begrudge him for that and look forward to working with him as our next state representative. With that said, it’s unfortunate that City Hall, a taxpayer-funded public building, was used for campaign purposes. This is just another example of [House Speaker Mike] Madigan's and Bradley’s rigged system — where government is used for personal and political gain.”
Citing 5 ILCS 430/5-15, the Republican candidate took offense on the illegal use of government property and government time. The particular portion of the statute that Severin claims to have been violated notes that “state employees shall not intentionally perform any prohibited political activity during any compensated time (other than vacation, personal, or compensatory time off). State employees shall not intentionally misappropriate any State property or resources by engaging in any prohibited political activity for the benefit of any campaign for elective office or any political organization.”
Bradley and Butler retaliated by pointing out how Severin misunderstood the law. Following the accusations of their breach of an Illinois statute, both the incumbent mayor and state representative noted how the Republican candidate failed to conduct a more thorough investigation before airing his complaints.
Bradley shared that he was “deeply offended” when he learned of the allegations from Severin. The state representative also revealed that his opponent must seek forgiveness for his actions which brought into question the “honor and integrity” of the Marion mayor. He also took a jab at the inexperience of the Benton businessman, saying that Severin ought to be ashamed of himself for not knowing more about the law despite running for a position that requires thorough knowledge of the statutes.
For his part, Butler defended the ad by saying that Bradley did not shell out a fee to pay for the use of the City Hall. However, he could not accurately recall whether the video was shot during office hours, citing that it was made weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti declared the campaign ad to be in adherence to the state laws. He said that he saw no violation after he reviewed the applicable Marion city ordinances and the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.
To better explain the root of the issue, Jim Tenuto of the Illinois State Board of Elections clarified that the main problem lies on whether or not the use of the City Hall amounted to making use of public funds.
That is, it will boil down to whether or not Bradley paid a fee to use the municipal building. It will also be relevant to determine whether or not the video was shot during public hours.