Campaign boss' taunt in text message likens Breuder to Hitler
COD candidate reveals message from Clean Slate campaign chairman
The campaign chairman for a three-person slate of candidates running for the College of DuPage board has advised a challenger to drop out of the crowded contest in a text message that likens college President Robert Breuder to Adolf Hitler.
David Carlin, a former COD trustee who is making a bid to return to the board, revealed during a Daily Herald endorsement interview that he received the text message Tuesday night from Jim Nalepa, chairman of the Clean Slate campaign.
The Clean Slate group is working to get Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano elected in the 12-person race for three available seats in the April 7 election. The three were endorsed earlier this week by Breuder critic and COD Trustee Kathy Hamilton.
In his text message to Carlin, Nalepa wrote: "Piece of advice. Get out of the race. When I get through with Dr. Breuder, anyone supporting him will look like they supported Hitler. That will be tough to shake for anyone with ambition. No need for chats."
On Thursday, Nalepa said his text message to Carlin was "a private communication between two old friends."
"For Dave to bring this thing up in a meeting just shows his level of insecurity and his level of immaturity in this campaign," said Nalepa, adding he was acting on his own when he sent the message. He stressed that Hamilton, Mazzochi, Bernstein and Napolitano didn't know about the message until Carlin made it public.
During the Wednesday night endorsement session, Carlin brought up Nalepa's text message while telling Daily Herald editors he believes there's an "orchestrated effort to discredit the (college) administration and to elect an extreme faction to the board."
After reading the text aloud, Carlin said he's "not going to be intimidated by the bullying."
"It might work with certain members of the current College of DuPage board of trustees," said Carlin, a Naperville resident. "It might work with other candidates. But I'm going to highlight this stuff when it's going on."
On Thursday, Carlin acknowledged he has known Nalepa for at least 15 years. Still, he said, "I don't know too many old friends who reference Hitler in their text messages and threaten friends to get out of elections."
Nalepa said he never intended to threaten anyone.
Carlin also shared an email that Breuder sent Wednesday afternoon to COD board members. In the email, Breuder wrote about Nalepa's text message: "I view this as a threat to my safety and will notify my attorneys."
On Thursday, a COD spokesman said Breuder has no comment about what happened.
Meanwhile, Nalepa said: "It's laughable that anybody would misconstrue that (text message) as a threat. It's ridiculous."
When asked if he wanted to apologize for sending the message, Nalepa said, "No. Why would I?"
He did, however, say he regrets the reference to Hitler.
"It was a misuse of words," Nalepa said.
He said he simply was trying to stress to Carlin that he should distance himself as much as possible from Breuder.
The Clean Slate candidates say they will bring needed change to the board, which has come under fire after awarding Breuder a $762,868 severance package.
That package, to which Hamilton cast the lone "no" vote, calls for Breuder to be paid nearly three times his base salary when he retires on March 31, 2016, about three years before his contract's scheduled expiration date.
It also calls for the college to name its Homeland Security Education Center in Breuder's honor.
Nalepa said his candidates intend to highlight Breuder's spending practices during the course of the campaign and that Carlin will be "held accountable" for serving on the board that hired Breuder and gave him an "egregious" contract.
"He is still joined at the hip with Dr. Breuder," Nalepa said of Carlin. "He should be held accountable for that relationship. He should be held accountable for his decisions."
Nalepa said he was serious when he suggested Carlin drop out of the race.
The other candidates are Dan Bailey of Wheaton, Claire Ball of Addison, Roger Kempa of Darien, Matt Gambs of Naperville, Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn, Joseph M. Wozniak of Naperville, incumbent Nancy Svoboda of Downers Grove and incumbent Kim Savage of Darien.
"I think for Dave's future, he should get out of the race and go on to other things," Nalepa said.
During Wednesday's endorsement interview, Carlin called on Mazzochi and Napolitano, who were in the room when Carlin revealed he had received the text message, to repudiate Nalepa's comments and to distance themselves from him. He said they also should ask Nalepa to step down as chairman of the Clean Slate.
Napolitano said he doesn't believe any candidates should be talked out of running.
"I would not support anybody being pushed out of a race or told to get out of a race," the Bloomingdale resident said. "I don't think that's right."
Mazzochi, an Elmhurst resident, didn't respond directly to Carlin's comments. She did say Carlin "seems to delight in attacking Kathy Hamilton."
On Thursday afternoon, Hamilton said no one from the Clean Slate campaign has asked Nalepa to step down as chairman.
She called the text message Nalepa sent "a private interchange between two old friends."