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Political back-and-forth begins in race for Republican nod in 81st District

Matune says Sandack threatened to release information about 1991 legal incident

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 10:27 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:43 a.m. CDT

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DOWNERS GROVE – State Rep. Ron Sandack's Republican primary challenger Keith Matune says Sandack invited him to a meeting at a Downers Grove restaurant Sunday to tell him members of the House Republican Organization will soon release unflattering personal information about Matune.

Sandack, who has been supported by the House Republican Organization in his re-election bid, said that the meeting was a courtesy and that there was nothing he could do to stop the information from coming out.

"I thought I was being neighborly with Mr. Matune and giving him a quiet heads-up, and he instead issued a factually erroneous press release," Sandack said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I'm not responding to that nonsense.

"He's tripping all over himself trying to explain himself. He has a pretty loose grip on the facts and reality, and I don't want to get into a back and forth with him. It doesn't serve my purposes. I'm the representative of the 81st District, and I'm interested in continuing to talk about the issues that matter to [residents] in the 81st."

The 81st District includes parts of Downers Grove, Westmont, Woodridge, Lisle, Naperville, Darien and Bolingbrook.

Matune, who serves on the Downers Grove District 99 School Board, issued a press release Monday.

It alleges Sandack was implying a threat to release information contained in a Chicago Tribune blurb from 1991 that stated "a Woodridge man was arrested and charged with being a fugitive from justice after police discovered he is wanted on a larceny charge in Montgomery County, Va. Police said they stopped a car driven by Keith R.W. Matune, 21, of 5921 Jackson Drive early Friday on the 6200 block of Belmont Road for driving with bright headlights. Matune, who was taken to Du Page County Jail, will be extradited to Virginia, police said."

Matune's press release claims that during the incident, officers refused to comply with the extradition request and that he was not placed under arrest and was promptly released.

"Keith’s attorney immediately made full restitution on his behalf and all charges were dropped within 24 hours," the press release states.

Mugshots obtained and published online by the Illinois Observer contradict Matune's account that he was not arrested in the incident. The mugshots appear to show Matune holding a DuPage County Sheriff's Department placard with the date mentioned in the newspaper blurb – May, 7, 1991.

When asked about the mugshots Tuesday, Matune said, "I was going on my recollection. Yes, there's mugshots and it doesn't look good. I don't recall any of that stuff. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I don't recall because it was taken care of so quickly."

Matune described the 1991 larceny incident as a misunderstanding in his press release.

"Keith unintentionally wrote a $150 check that was returned for insufficient funds while attending college out of state," the press release said. "While home for the summer, Keith was stopped by local police for a broken headlight and was notified during the stop that there was an out of state warrant issued for an insufficient check.

"Keith was completely surprised and unaware of the situation. The officers refused to comply with the extradition request; Keith was not placed under arrest and was promptly released. Keith’s attorney immediately made full restitution on his behalf and all charges were dropped within 24 hours."

According to Matune, the Illinois State Police database shows no record of arrest, which is reflected in his employment applications.

Further, as a condition of working in public schools, Matune said he has passed a minimum of four background checks with fingerprinting.

In the press release, Matune apologized for the "missteps made as a college student, including an indecency charge during a fraternity prank," it reads. "These incidents happened more than 20 years ago and since that time he has become a husband, father, Illinois teacher and IHSA coach of the year."

"Keith feels the most important part of this election are the specific issues that impact the daily lives of middle class families, not the politics of personal destruction. He is running to be the next state representative to fight for all Illinois families, because of the challenges they face by the heavy burden of taxation, high unemployment and the increasing inability to afford college for our children.

"These are the most pressing issues facing the people of the 81st District, not the youthful mistakes of a college student more than two decades ago."

The General Primary Election will be held March 18.

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