Did state Sen. Schmidt use clout on domestic disturbance police call?
Editor's note: The 911 audio tapes have been edited to remove personal identification information.
State Sen. Suzi Schmidt mentioned being a former Lake County Board chairman and her “connections” on a December call asking a 911 dispatcher to ignore her husband if he summoned help, according to a recording released Wednesday.
Moreover, the Republican senator alluded to politics again Monday when speaking to Lake County sheriff's deputies who were called to the couple's home by her husband, Robert, because of a purported domestic dispute.
Lake County prosecutors Monday declined to immediately lodge charges against either Schmidt, but additional review will occur after all police reports are completed, according to the sheriff's office. Robert Schmidt agreed to leave the couple's home to avoid further problems, authorities said.
Monday's call was the third sheriff's response to the couple's Lake Villa Township house since Dec. 25, 2010. Authorities also didn't seek criminal charges based on the domestic violence complaints from last December or Aug. 16.
Robert Schmidt declined to comment. Suzi Schmidt didn't return calls, but issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon that, in part, addressed the use of her political status on the 911 recordings.
“On the 911 call, I identified myself — but I never intended to inappropriately use my title. However, I apologize if any of my comments during this very emotional time seem inappropriate,” she said.
Suzi Schmidt, elected to a 2-year state senate term in 2010, called a 911 dispatcher at 9:55 a.m. Dec. 25 because she believed her husband soon would be doing the same.
“Hi Allison, this is Suzi Schmidt. I was the Lake County Board chairman for 10 years,” she said on the 911 recording obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. “Listen, I'm having a little problem with my husband right now.”
“Like a domestic-type problem?” the dispatcher inquired.
Suzi Schmidt said all was fine at the home, then provided some detail on what she wanted from the 911 dispatcher.
“If he calls, Bob Schmidt, you can ignore him. Of course, I just caught him with another woman, so that's why I'm a little upset,” she said.
Suzi Schmidt, 60, said she locked out her husband on that frigid Christmas Day and that's why he might try to seek help from police.
“He might (call), except he's kind of afraid of me because he knows I have connections,” she told the emergency dispatcher.
Suzi Schmidt was told by the dispatcher that calls cannot be ignored. Robert Schmidt later contacted 911 and requested a deputy at his home.
Robert Schmidt, 64, claimed his wife was “throwing a bunch of stuff” at him, so he ran outside without a coat. He said he was “freezing” on a day the National Weather Service recorded a 32-degree high and a low of 23 in Waukegan.
None of the claims by either Schmidt have been independently corroborated.
Robert Schmidt told an officer the couple had argued over her “thinking he has a girlfriend,” according to a police report.
On the 911 recording of the Aug. 16 call at 6:07 p.m., Robert Schmidt told a dispatcher his wife rammed her 2000 Cadillac into his car at least three times soon after he departed their home near Cedar Lake Lane and Fairfield Road in Lake Villa Township.
Sheriff's office reports also obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show Robert Schmidt told a deputy his wife went after him because he had preferred to shop for a new vehicle alone.
“I examined Suzanne's vehicle and found front-end damage consistent with damage to Robert's vehicle and story,” wrote Deputy Eric Francke. “I asked Suzanne what happened to the front of her vehicle. Suzanne said she was at Lindenfest over the past weekend and hit a curb and was involved in a minor accident with a teenage girl.
“I asked if the incident was reported and she said ‘no' because she did not want to jam up the teenage girl. I asked Suzanne how the teenage girl hit her vehicle and she said it must have been with the front of her car.”
Suzi Schmidt also said her husband's “unhappy girlfriend” possibly rammed his car.
Robert Schmidt's 2000 Chevrolet Malibu sustained a cracked front bumper and a broken license-plate bracket, according to sheriff's office documents. He declined to seek further police action.
At 6:25 p.m. Monday, Robert Schmidt called a dispatcher to report his wife bit him and caused bleeding, according to the 911 recording. A report states a deputy observed blood on Robert Schmidt's shirt front and pants, purportedly after being bitten and hit with a wireless telephone.
Suzi Schmidt is heard in the background on the 911 tape denying her husband's accusations and claiming he had pinned her to the floor in their house. In the report, she stated her husband pulled out an earring and hit her face, which caused her to bite him on an arm so he would get off her.
“Suzanne stated due to the fact she is a state senator, she believes Robert is attempting to derail her career and has threatened to call the police on her several times,” the report from Sgt. Timothy Jonites states.
Suzi Schmidt defeated Democratic state Sen. Michael Bond of Grayslake in the November 2010 election. She resigned as county board chairman in January 2011 before she was sworn in as a state senator.
Most of northern and parts of central Lake County are covered by the 31st Senate District.
Lake County Republican Party Chairman Bob Cook said he believes Schmidt is a professional who will continue to perform well as a state senator despite the personal problems. Cook said he recently spoke to Schmidt.
“I just told her I'm here for her and whatever she needs me to do,” Cook said Wednesday. “She's a state senator and she's a leader in the county.”
Lake County Board member Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat who has announced her intent to enter the spring primary for the 31st Senate District, could face Schmidt in the November 2012 general election. No other Democrats have publicly stated they are running in the primary.
Bush called the 911 recordings of the Schmidts “very sad and disturbing on a number of levels.” She declined to elaborate or comment further.
In her statement, Suzi Schmidt described Christmas 2010 as the beginning of a very emotional period in her 31-year marriage. She said she is taking appropriate steps to deal with the issues.
“It is a very difficult, personal family matter that I would like to deal with privately. In the meantime, I remain committed to serving the citizens of my district,” she said.
Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.