Jim Dey | Will voters put ‘contract’ out on congressional candidate?


An honest politician is one who, when bought, stays bought. By that standard, Chicago U.S. Rep. Marie Newman is not an honest politician.

How can one tell? The details of her dishonesty are laid out in one of the most bizarre legal disputes ever to entangle a slippery Illinois politician.

But first, who the heck is Newman? Although not well known in these parts, Newman has made statewide news a few times in recent years.

After running against him unsuccessfully in 2018, Newman defeated Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski in the March 2020 primary election.

Although an outspoken leftist, Newman kept a relatively low profile outside Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District until earlier this year. That’s when her fellow Democrats gerrymandered Newman out of her district.

Over her expressed outrage, they included Newman’s LaGrange residence in a Chicago Hispanic district represented by fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia. Rather than challenge and lose against Garcia, Newman opted to run in the new 6th District represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove.

The battle over the new congressional map was controversial because, in addition to shafting Republicans, Democrats put the screws to fellow Democrat Newman.

The prospect of a bitter ideological battle between Newman and Casten has drawn both state and national attention. Leftists from across the country are backing Newman, as demonstrated when the Congressional Progressive Caucus endorsed her.

“The endorsement … removes any doubt that the Newman-Casten race will become a closely watched, highly funded national contest between the Democratic Party’s progressive and moderate wings,” Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz recently wrote.

But the race recently took a strange turn when the U.S. House Committee on Ethics — an oxymoron if there ever was one — announced it had “decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Marie Newman” until Jan. 24.

What matter? The committee disclosed only that it had received a complaint against Newman on Oct. 25.

What’s up? Hang on to your hat. It doesn’t get much stranger than this.

Newman recently settled out of court — no terms disclosed — a lawsuit filed by a political competitor, Iymen H. Chehade. The lawsuit alleged that Newman — “in an effort to induce Chehade not to run against her in the (2020). … offered Chehade” employment if she was elected to the U.S. House.

After she won, Newman told Chehade he could take the job promise and shove it.

Sixteen days after Chehade was scheduled to begin a top job on Newman’s staff — minimum salary of $135,000 to $140,000 — he filed a lawsuit alleging she had breached their agreement.

Newman’s office quickly dismissed the Cook County lawsuit as a “money grab.”

It was certainly that, but not one without legal merit. That became clear when Chehade produced the pair’s four-page written contract.

Newman — the dumbell — actually signed, along with Chehade, an “employment agreement” that outlines the conditions and positions under which Chehade would work. Specifically, he was to hold a dual appointment as Newman’s “chief foreign policy advisor” and either her district or legislative director.

Their contract covered “employment and term,” “duties” and “compensation and benefits.” It even delved into legal niceties, including terms under which the contract might be ended.

“The agreement shall be for a term commencing on Jan. 3, 2021, and shall continue for as long as Newman remains representative,” the contract states.

It’s one thing for pols to scratch each other’s backs with subtle quid pro quos — you do this, and I’ll do that.

But a written contract signed by a candidate to buy off political opposition? Mayor Daley I would be doing 100 RPMs in his grave if he heard about that.

Da’ mare won’t, of course, find out. But 6th District voters, undoubtedly, will hear much about Newman’s contract as the June 2022 Democratic Party primary draws closer.

via The News-Gazette

December 21, 2021 at 07:48AM

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