A negative campaign flyer with racial overtones that was sent out over the weekend was printed at the same Chicago commercial print shop as the campaign flyers of at least two candidates for Forest Park commissioner.
PGC Graphics printed letter-sized flyers for candidates Mike Curry and Tom Mannix, according to a union label that links the work to the shop. A print shop representative confirmed to the Review Monday that PGC also printed 1,000 of the negative flyers that use misinformation to attack commissioner candidates Rory Hoskins and Steve Johnsen. The flyer plays on fears that Forest Park will become like Maywood if Hoskins is reelected. Maywood is a predominantly black community, and Hoskins is the only African-American in the village board race.
According to the PGC representative, 1,000 of the “Maywood” flyers were printed. The employee would not say who placed the order or how much it cost, but added that it was less than $3,000. At $3,000, a political committee must register its expenditures with the Illinois State Board of Elections and there is no current filing under “Citizens United for Forest Park.” Furthermore, two first class stamps were placed on multiple versions of the flyer seen by the Review. At 42 cents per stamp, $840 was spent just on postage if all of the copies were mailed.
After inquiries by the Review, there was also some question Monday about whether the flyers were produced at PGC due to the quality of the printing. But that theory was debunked when PGC owner Victor Perez said different plates were used in the production of the flyers.
The double-sided attack ad features a Forest Park welcome-sign that has been digitally manipulated so the words “Forest Park” are scratched out and “Maywood” is branded in the middle of the sign. The back of the ad says “Commissioner Rory Hoskins wants Maywood to annex part of Forest Park.” In his campaign, Hoskins has proposed that Forest Park work with Maywood and its Enterprise Zone to enhance business on Roosevelt Road. An Enterprise Zone offers businesses incentives to locate or redevelop within the confines of a zone.
As is often the case with political campaign materials, the Mannix, Curry and also the attack flyer were printed with a union label visible. On the negative flyers, though, numbers affixed to the so-called “union bug” were punched out so the print shop couldn’t be easily traced. But portions of the stamps are visible on at least two of the ads, which made it possible to connect them to PGC.
At this point the responsible party is not known, although the ads are attributed to “Citizens United for Forest Park,” which may add legal complications.
Citizens United in Forest Park (CUinFP) is a local nonprofit. When the group was founded in 2003, it was called Citizens United for Forest Park. According to records filed with the secretary of state, the group is still officially called Citizens United for Forest Park, although its members now refer to the group as CUinFP. Members of the group said the organization did not print or produce the ads, and that its name was fraudulently used.
Some CUinFP members are currently seeking legal advice on the matter – one wondered if the act constituted mail fraud and said he was waiting to hear back from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.
A representative of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office was not available to comment on the legal repercussions of the false attribution.
When the Review contacted Curry, he said he had no involvement with the weekend flyers.
“I don’t know anything about the ad…I was raised better than that,” Curry said. “I’m not like the Forest Park History Club…I’m not like those cowards.”
“There’s got to be some election law against Rory Hoskins calling Calderone a bigot,” said Curry, a lawyer. He was referring to another weekend flyer that suggested Mayor Anthony Calderone and Mannix colluded to knock Hoskins off the ballot earlier in the year, and called the initiative “bigoted.” Curry said Hoskins was responsible for that flyer.
“I had nothing to do with the production of the ads,” Hoskins said.
Mannix could not be reached for comment.