Complaint filed about Tinley incumbents’ campaign photos
Challengers for four seats on the Tinley Park Village Board have filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections alleging the incumbents used taxpayer-funded portrait photos in campaign materials.
The complaint was filed Monday by the slate of Steve Eberhardt, who is running for mayor against Ed Zabrocki. Trustee candidates Karen Weigand, Andrew DeLuca and Nancy Petro are running with Eberhardt.
The complaint alleges that portraits of Zabrocki, Village Clerk Pat Rea, and trustees Brian Maher, Dave Seaman and T.J. Grady — which are displayed in the village hall and on the village’s website and were paid for with public funds — have been displayed since December on their campaign’s website, www.TeamTinley.com.
The village paid a Tinley Park-based photographer $480 in March 2011 for a portrait of Grady, who has been appointed to the board, according to village records obtained by Eberhardt.
Seaman uses his official village portrait on his Facebook page, the complaint alleges. And the complaint says the Team Tinley campaign uses a photo of the Tinley Park Convention Center that appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of the Tinley Park Exchange, the village’s official newsletter for residents.
Eberhardt said the State Board of Elections could decide that the officials’ portraits must be pulled from Team Tinley campaign materials. He’s not looking to have the incumbents fined or even reprimanded.
“You can’t use taxpayer-funded portraits for your personal campaign site. There are rules to live by. We have to live by the rules and they have to live by the rules,” Eberhardt said Tuesday. “We’re doing this because we think this is a violation of the election code.”
The complaint also charges that the mayor’s secretary, Judy Bruning, has been doing campaign work on village time. Included in the complaint is an email from her village hall account in which she confirms a donation made to Zabrocki’s campaign.
Zabrocki, who was out of town Tuesday, said he was not familiar with the complaint and declined comment.
Rea said he wants to read the complaint, but said, “Everybody should live by the rules, without exception.”
Rea said such complaints “catch the public’s attention.”
He then challenged Eberhardt to outline before the April 9 election his plans on how he will improve Tinley Park if elected.
“Let’s see some ideas with full explanation of how they’ll work. Let’s see how he’ll handle taxes, infrastructure and flooding issues, how he’ll encourage new businesses to come to Tinley Park, and how he’ll retain businesses we have. He’d better start soon because he doesn’t have a lot of time,” Rea said.