Radogno: Schmidt revelations "extremely troubling"
The state Senate's top Republican on Thursday called the 911 recordings stemming from state Sen. Suzi Schmidt's domestic problems "extremely troubling."
Senate GOP leader Christine Radogno also said she has been speaking with Schmidt as the freshman senator from Lake Villa Township "makes important decisions regarding her personal and professional life."
Radogno's comments, in an email to the Daily Herald, came a day after the Lake County sheriff's office released reports and 911 recordings relating to police visits to Schmidt's home during the last 10 months.
Locally, Lake County GOP leader Bob Cook expressed worry about how Schmidt's domestic issues and the much-publicized recordings will affect her expected 2012 election bid.
Cook said he fielded a call from a Radogno aide about the controversy Thursday.
"I would say there is concern about the upcoming general election and whether this would be used against her," Cook said.
Schmidt, a veteran politician who was elected to the Senate last fall, has not made herself available to the media since the Lake County sheriff's police released the reports and recordings.
She was scheduled to appear Thursday at the grand opening of a FedEx Ground facility in Grayslake but did not show.
The calls concerned altercations between Schmidt and her husband, Robert. No charges have been filed.
In a 911 recording made Dec. 25, 2010, Schmidt identified herself as the former Lake County Board chairman -- a position she held until earlier that month -- and urged police to ignore any calls from her husband. In the same recording, she told a police dispatcher that her husband is afraid of her "because he knows I have connections."
And a police report from a separate incident this past Monday indicated Schmidt told a sheriff's deputy she believes her husband is trying to "derail her career" as a senator.
In a statement emailed to the media Wednesday, Schmidt said she didn't intend to use her political titles inappropriately and apologized if the comments seemed inappropriate.
Cook said state GOP officials are most concerned about the impact of those recordings, and whether Schmidt tried to use her political weight to influence police responses.
Cook believes those recordings and the allegations could hurt Schmidt's planned 2012 re-election campaign.
"Instead of talking about the issues, her opponent may use this stuff against her," Cook said.
Schmidt is the only Republican in the race for the 31st District seat. Across the aisle, county board member Melinda Bush of Grayslake is the lone Democratic candidate.
Echoing comments made the day before, Bush on Thursday said the Schmidt situation "continues to be sad and disturbing on many levels." She declined to comment further.
When asked if party leaders are urging Schmidt to resign, Cook said: "This is something Suzi is going to have to decide for herself."
Radogno described Schmidt as "a colleague coping with a personal crisis."
"However, these revelations are extremely troubling," said Radogno, of Lemont. "As public officials, we are held to a higher standard. We cannot and will not tolerate abuse of the public trust."
Daily Herald State Government Writer Mike Riopell contributed to this report.