McHenry County board hopefuls threaten legal action against each other
Two McHenry County Board candidates are threatening to sue each other over their conduct during the campaign.
Republican incumbent Robert Bless says he's preparing to file a complaint against Democratic challenger Nick Chirikos, who he says has distributed campaign information that contains untrue statements and "private and privileged" information.
"I don't sling mud. I understand why Chirikos is doing what he does. If you don't have the credentials, the merit, the platform to run your position, you attack anybody that is vulnerable to try to get the votes," Bless said.
Bless, of Fox River Grove, declined to say what private information Chirikos has disclosed. Chirikos, of Algonquin, said his campaign literature refers to Bless' pending court cases and ethics complaints related to his work as an attorney in suburban Cook County and as a Cook County sheriff's officer.
"Everything that we're disseminating with regard to Bob Bless is currently available on the Internet and publicly available," Chirikos said. "All of this is alleged; there is nothing proven (about Bless). It's not my wish to impugn his character in any way, but there is a sea of negative information about this man. He's not a fit man for sitting on the county board."
Bless' attorney, Ronald Justin of Arlington Heights, said he sent Chirikos three cease-and-desist letters, one via registered mail and two others via regular mail addressed to Chirikos and his wife.
Chirikos said he declined to sign for the registered letter and sent it back unopened, believing it was from a tenant who isn't paying rent.
He said he never received the other two letters and only found out about them when one was posted Wednesday on a local blog.
"I was flabbergasted when I saw this. I was quite concerned that the law was broken by the attorney in making it publicly available before I actually received it," he said, adding he is consulting with an attorney.
"If any privacy or postal laws were broken, we will pursue that."
Bless is a Cook County sheriff's officer who was placed on administrative duty pending a complaint filed with the Cook County Sheriff's Merit Board by the sheriff's Office of Professional Review, said Frank Bilecki, sheriff's office spokesman.
The case is set for trial Nov. 13, a merit board spokesman said, declining to give more information because of confidentiality issues.
Bless said he is being represented by a union lawyer and declined to say what the case is about.
"The truth will come out eventually," he said.
Bless, who also is an attorney with Bless & Associates, has two lawsuits pending against him in Cook County, plus a complaint pending before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
The ARDC complaint alleges Bless had a sexual relationship with a client, received loans from her and gave false testimony about his conduct. The next hearing is set for Dec. 6 and 7.
A lawsuit against Bless was filed in Cook County in 2010 by the woman at the center of the ARDC complaint; the next court date is Nov. 1.
Another lawsuit was filed in Cook County in January by the owners of a restaurant in Fox River Grove who claimed Bless represented them in an insurance settlement case and took $31,000 more than he was entitled to. The next court date is Dec. 5.
Bless declined to answer questions about the lawsuits and the ARDC complaint, citing his attorneys' advice. "I'm hoping to get my day in court," he said.
Chirikos is running a campaign solely based on negative attacks, Bless said.
"I don't see how this affects my being on the county board. I think I served well for the four years I've been there. I've always looked for the best interest of the citizens of our county," he said.
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