Mud slinging escalates in race for Cook County's Water Reclamation board

  • Tom Greenhaw

    Tom Greenhaw

  • Andrew Seo

    Andrew Seo

  • Martin Durkan

    Martin Durkan

 
 
Updated 2/25/2016 6:45 PM

The race for a 2-year term on Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board revved up this week when candidate Andrew Seo filed a lawsuit against one of his opponents, Tom Greenhaw.

The MWRD is responsible for protecting Cook County's water supply by treating sewage and preventing flooding throughout the county. In the March 15 primary election, three Democratic candidates are vying for one two-year term on the board, and six Democratic candidates are vying for three six-year terms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The dispute between Greenhaw and Seo goes back to when objections were filed to signatures on Seo's nominating petitions to get on the ballot.

The Cook County Officers Electoral Board held a hearing and found nine petition circulators, including Seo, "engaged in a pattern of fraud" while collecting signatures, and that the validity rate for the 23,981 signatures Seo submitted was "a disturbing 32.4 percent."

Despite the findings, Seo still had more than the minimum number of valid signatures to remain on the ballot.

Now in court documents, Seo alleges Greenhaw's campaign paid the individuals who filed objections to signatures on Seo's petitions. The court documents allege civil conspiracy and defamation.

"If the Cook County Board of Elections found some unethical misuse, I would not be here today," Seo said during a meeting with the Daily Herald editorial board Monday. "I would not be on the ballot for the March 15 election."

Meanwhile, Greenhaw's campaign is calling the suit Seo filed a publicity stunt.

"The lawsuit filed by Mr. Seo is blatantly false and without merit," Greenhaw's spokeswoman Joanna Klonsky said in an email Thursday. "It is the definition of a frivolous lawsuit, and we expect a judge to dismiss it outright."

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Before the Monday endorsement meeting with MWRD candidates, Seo also notified the Daily Herald of a website http://martindurkan.com, that seemed designed to undermine the campaign of the third candidate in the race for the two-year term, Martin Durkan.

Seo said that when he called godaddy.com to ask who owned the website, he was told Greenhaw did. Greenhaw denied owning the domain name.

The website has since been taken down. Because of the domain's privacy settings, the Daily Herald was unable to verify the owner of the domain.

Durkan, who has mostly remained out of the fray between Greenhaw and Seo, said the website hurt his ability to spread his message.

"My name on the ballot is Martin J. Durkan and all of everything else I'm doing is Friends for Marty because I couldn't utilize my own name," Durkan said. "It was, to me, frustrating, yes. I'll move on."

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