Police: Schmidt dispute involves love triangle claim

State Sen. Suzi Schmidt harassed neighbors for more than two years over an alleged romantic affair involving her estranged husband, according to police reports.

Lake County Sheriff's documents obtained by the Daily Herald after Schmidt's Tuesday arrest state the Lake Villa Republican routinely confronted the family starting in December 2010. Schmidt claimed her husband, Robert Schmidt, was involved with the female neighbor, reports say.

The woman, who is not being identified by the Daily Herald, denied having an affair with Robert numerous times in the police report.

Schmidt declined to comment about the allegations when contacted Wednesday. She said she has not hired an attorney yet, but will be meeting with lawyers within the next couple of days.

Efforts to reach the neighbors for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful. A home phone number had been disconnected and messages left on cellphones were not returned. Nobody was home at their Lake Villa residence when a reporter approached.

According to reports, the neighbors told police they received multiple harassing phone calls, text messages and emails from Schmidt between December 2010 and February 2012, and have been confronted verbally by the former chairman of the Lake County Board.

On June 9, reports state, the neighbors accused Schmidt of going onto their property, taking a feed bag, and throwing it into a nearby swamp. The police report says a video of the event has been turned over to the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Lake County State's Attorneys Office.

The allegation led authorities to arrest Schmidt Tuesday on misdemeanor charges of criminal damage to property and criminal trespass. Schmidt also was served with an emergency stalking no-contact order, according to the Lake County Sheriff's office.

Schmidt was arrested when a sheriff's deputy on patrol in Gurnee spotted her vehicle in the parking lot of a home improvement store on the 6600 block of Grand Avenue, sheriff's Chief Wayne Hunter said.

About two hours after the 5:15 p.m. arrest, Schmidt posted 10 percent of her $5,000 bail and was released from custody, police said.

A handful of suburban Republican state senators said Wednesday they don't think the arrest will affect Schmidt's position in Springfield.

“Suzi is someone in the caucus that everybody has a deep affection for,” said state Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican.

Lake County GOP leader Bob Cook said he's received calls from local Republicans concerned about how Schmidt's arrest affects the party and the upcoming race for her 31st District seat.

Schmidt chose not to seek re-election this year after facing questions last fall about whether she abused her political influence during a domestic dispute with her estranged husband.

“God knows we don't want to lose (a seat),” Cook said.

Republican Joe Neal and Democrat Melinda Bush are seeking to replace Schmidt. Neal could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Bush declined to comment on Schmidt's arrest or the details unveiled Wednesday, saying she is “focusing on the people and the issues of the district.”

Cook spent Wednesday trying to gather information about the case but was unable to speak with Schmidt. Party leaders have not decided what stance to take on the matter, if any, he said.

Asked whether seeking Schmidt's resignation before her term ends is among the possible responses, Cook said “all options are on the table at this time.”

Cook said Schmidt's arrest “makes me feel a little sad.”

“It's hard when you're in the public eye and suffer all these things, things that for other people would be swept away,” Cook said.

Schmidt has had run-ins with police before.

On Christmas Day 2010, Schmidt called 911 and told a dispatcher to ignore calls for help from her husband, whom she had locked out of their home.

Schmidt told the dispatcher her husband is afraid of her “because he knows I have connections,” and in a separate situation, she told a deputy her husband was trying to derail her Senate career.

Those conversations became public last fall. Schmidt and her husband separated about the same time.

Staff writer Mike Riopell contributed to this story.

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