GOP congressional candidate irate over crime claim in rival's campaign ad
A Republican running for Illinois' 6th Congressional District seat is irate about allegations a competitor has made in a new campaign advertisement.
Candidate Keith Pekau, who's also Orland Park's mayor, said he's "appalled" by GOP rival Scott Kaspar's brief commercial, which focuses on crime in the Southwest suburb. Kaspar lives in Orland Park, too.
In the 38-second video released Monday, a narrator alleges crime is "out of control" in the village as a photo of an Orland Park police vehicle, a succession of news headlines and crime-related social media posts zip by.
Kaspar then appears -- but never speaks -- in the ad as the narrator talks about the candidate forming a public safety task force chaired by former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
The ad calls Kerik "America's crime-fighter" but doesn't mention that about eight years after leaving the department, he pleaded guilty in 2009 to felony tax fraud and making false statements. Kerik was pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in 2020.
Pekau, Orland Park's mayor since 2017, insisted crimes involving people or property in town are at a 27-year low, and his campaign provided departmental data supporting that claim. Pekau defended the work of the department and outgoing Chief Joseph Mitchell, who is taking a job in a different community.
"I will not stand for attacks on our police department," Pekau said in an emailed statement. "Attacking our police department's performance and our (chief's) integrity for personal and political gain is as distasteful as it is unacceptable."
Mitchell addressed Kaspar's ad during Monday's village board meeting, calling it "nonsense."
"Our record speaks for itself," said Mitchell, a 27-year department veteran whose last day as Orland Park's chief was Friday. "To say otherwise flies in the face of reality and (is) an affront to the hard work that men and women do on a daily basis for the village of Orland Park."
Mitchell also blasted Kaspar -- without mentioning his name -- for "making campaign attack ads and videos with previously convicted felons."
When asked Friday about the apparent discrepancy between the department's data and the ad's claim of out-of-control crime in the village, Kaspar maintained crime is "skyrocketing in our community" but provided no supporting statistics.
As for his public safety task force, Kaspar repeatedly has declined to identify any members other than Kerik.
"We will be naming additional members when we are ready to announce some of our early recommendations to address crime in the suburbs," said Kaspar, who appeared with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in an ad during his unsuccessful bid for Orland Township supervisor last year. Blagojevich's 14-year prison sentence for corruption was commuted by Trump in 2020.
Pekau and Kaspar are among six candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 6th District seat. The others are Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn, Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso, Glen Ellyn resident Niki Conforti and Catherine A. O'Shea of Oak Lawn.
Three candidates are running for the Democratic nomination: incumbent U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, current 3rd District U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange and Charles M. Hughes of Chicago.
The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.
The primary election is June 28. The general election is Nov. 8.