Clerk verifies calls of illegal campaigning

By David Kirkpatrick

DeKalb County Clerk Terry Desmond verified that two illegal campaigning reports were received at his office last week, but said he has little reason to believe the incidents were directly attributable to the named candidates.

“A couple of calls were handled by our office in which anonymous citizens voiced concern over some campaign practices,” Desmond said.

The citizens voiced concern over the fact that candidates had broken campaign laws by writing their names in chalk less than 100 feet from a public polling place.

Campaign laws state that a candidate cannot hand out literature, speak to voters or write anything pertaining to their candidacy within 100 feet of a polling place on election day.

The chalk-written messages on the east and south sides of the Holmes Student Center said, “Vote for Finn” and “Vote for Diedrich.”

Linda Finn was in the running as Democratic candidate for circuit clerk of DeKalb county, and Ed Diedrich was running on the Democratic ticket for the position of judge in the 16th district of DeKalb County.

Desmond said that upon receiving the telephone calls, he called the university police and they investigated the incident. Desmond said the UPs were going to try to get assistance at the HSC and have the chalk removed.

According to Lt. Ron Williams of the UPs, the messages were written within 100 feet of the building but the actual writing was witnessed by no one.

Williams said he verified the illegality of the writings and notified the election judges of the occurrence. However, he said only one complaint was received by the UPs. The complaint to the UPs indicated either that only one violation occurred on campus or that the other complaint was not reported.

Diedrich and Finn both said they had no idea who wrote the messages.

“We had no idea the writing occurred, and we have no information concerning the writing,” Diedrich’s daughter Jean said in an interview.

Finn said her camp had nothing to do with the writing, “I am sorry it happened, but I don’t really know anything about it,” Finn said. “It sure didn’t help me any.” Finn lost the election to incumbent clerk Maureen Josh.

Desmond said this type of illegal campaigning occurs often during an election year, and the majority of the time such problems are the result of overzealous campaigners.

“The candidates themselves understand the laws,” Desmond said. “However, you may encounter an ignorant helper who, through his aggressiveness, is careless.”