DOWNERS GROVE – Former District 99 School Board candidate Henry Jakobsze has filed a formal complaint alleging that two political groups tried to mislead voters by continuing to endorse him after he dropped from the race.
School board President Bill White, who is an attorney, helped prepare the complaint which Jakobsze filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections last week.
It alleges that Citizens for Julia Beckman and the Downers Grove Community Advocates violated state campaign law by using Jakobsze's name and image without his permission after he dropped from the race March 6, too late to have his name removed from the ballot.
Jakobsze said he believes Beckman and the DGCA wanted him to beat Debbie Boyle for a seat he would not claim, allowing Beckman and her fellow board members to appoint a person of their choosing. Jakobsze endorsed Boyle in the race.
"Bill and I spoke, and he indicated to me that he thought that what they did violated the election code, and I said if that's true, I'd be willing to file a complaint," Jakobsze said.
White initially filed to run for re-election, but he dropped out soon enough not to have his name appear on the ballot. He did not return calls for comment on this story.
Beckman, Boyle, Theresa Pavesich and Rick Pavinato were elected to the board in the election April 9, ahead of Jakobsze and another drop-out candidate, Martin Gorski.
Jakobsze began preparing the complaint after seeing an invitation on April 6 for a "meet and greet" with the candidates organized by the DGCA, he said. It listed his name along with Beckman and the other three candidates endorsed in the race – Beckman, Pavesich and Pavinato.
His complaint was received by the board of elections on April 9, election day.
The complaint also references a flyer that was mailed weeks after he dropped from the race that included him in the list of endorsed candidates. Jakobsze received the endorsement initially after he filled out a questionnaire with the DGCA when he was still an active candidate.
"The Downers Grove Community Advocates received Mr. Jakobsze's request for endorsement in February," the DGCA said in a statement. "He was notified on March 2 that he had been endorsed by the DGCA. The DGCA endorsed Mr. Jakobsze in good faith. Mr. Jakobsze did not contact the DGCA regarding our endorsement or his withdrawal from the race until April 6.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Jakobsze did not respond to the DGCA's repeated attempts to clarify the media reports of his withdrawal. The DGCA regrets Mr. Jakobsze's distress and confusion, and wishes him well."
Beckman did not return calls for comment.
Pavesich said she and other candidates did not want to pay to reprint the flyer when Jakobsze left the race.
"We published that right after we got the endorsement," she said. "They were away (at the printers) before he dropped out of the race.
"We don't have a lot of unlimited funds. It's not like this was a presidential election where a lot of money is involved. We put up our own cash."
Pavesich also said Beckman and others attempted to call Jakobsze after he quit, but never heard back – a claim that he disputes.
"I'm looking through my telephone records and I don't see any phone calls from (the DGCA), Pavesich or Beckman," he said.
He said the last time he talked to Beckman was the day he called her to say he dropped out.
Jakobsze said he filed the complaint as a matter of principle.
"My hope is that the (election) board finds in my favor and that this outcome is communicated to the community so that they know that there's a lack of integrity in the (DGCA) and with Julia Beckman," he said.
At the time of his withdrawal, Jakobsze stated personal reasons, which he elaborated on Monday by saying he thought the position could create a conflict of interest at work.
Illinois State Board of Election Division of Campaign Disclosure Deputy Director Andy Nauman said the complaint will first be reviewed in a closed, preliminary hearing. The hearing officer will give a report and recommendation to the election board, which will decide if there should be a public hearing on the matter.
The copy of the complaint filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections that Jakobsze provided to the media did not include the second page with White's signature. Jakobsze said the omission was not intentional.