Kevin Burns accused Chris Lauzen on Tuesday of "misrepresentation, misuse and misdirection" of facts that make Lauzen "profoundly unqualified to lead" Kane County.
The Geneva mayor and Kane County Board chairman candidate held a press conference at noon Tuesday at his campaign headquarters, at 1950 S. Batavia Ave., just north of the Campana Building. The purpose, he said, was to "set the record straight" about statements Lauzen has made during the GOP primary race for County Board chairman.
Burns laid out a litany of "misrepresentations" he said are revealing of Lauzen's character.
(1) Lauzen borrowed campaign contributions from his failed 14th District congressional campaign fund to pay for his Kane County campaign, then charged 7 percent interest to the 14th District fund.
“This was never disclosed by my opponent’s campaign,” Burns said. “His public message of transparency differs form his private practice.”
“That’s absolutely false,” Lauzen said by telephone on Tuesday afternoon. “The debt I have is with the Old Second National bank, and it’s a 5.5 percent interest calculation charged by the bank.
“That’s a Kevin fantasy,” he said. “I am doing my best to stay positive, but how is this not a distraction to the real issues of the campaign? How is this telling people how you’re going to make their lives better?”
(2) Lauzen re-used signs from that campaign and again paid himself 7 percent interest in the process.
Burns said Lauzen simply painted over the signs Lauzen had used in the previous campaign, then leased them back to his County Board campaign.
“If I’m a donor, if I make a contribution to an organization, and that organization is paying itself back with 7 percent interest, I’m not going to be happy at all,” Burns said.
“I’m not paying myself 7 percent interest,” Lauzen said. “I am taking the signs from the congressional campaign and have leased signs and other equipment at fair market value over to the campaign. That is just a matter of frugally using assets and compensating the entity those assets belong to.
“If the charge is that I’m frugal, I’m guilty as charged.”
(3) Lauzen is paying less in property taxes in 2012 than in 2007.
“I’m happy for my opponent that he’s paying less in taxes,” Burns said. “But aren’t the rest of us paying more in taxes? Why are home prices going down and taxes going up for everyone else, but not with him?”
“At least I’m paying property tax. He’s not,” Lauzen said. “What’s your point, Kevin? I’m carrying around my stub from two payments last year, and the Kane County portion went up 10.6 percent. That’s what we need to be addressing.”
(4) Lauzen is making campaign claims to have sponsored and voted for legislation that lowered the pay of state elected officials.
Burns called the legislation “a phony pay cut."
Burns said Lauzen had a chance to make the 5 percent pay decrease permanent, but in fact voted for a plan for a temporary pay cut.
Burns showed a Lauzen campaign quote that said, “ … in Springfied, I passed a 5 percent decrease in pay for members of the General Assembly.”
“The reality is that he only agreed to a two-year reduction,” Burns said, adding that the claims for credit "speaks to the heart of Mr. Lauzen’s integrity and his inability to lead."
Lauzen said that particular accusation “kind of takes your breath away.”
“I would say we have done something in the General Assembly that is near miraculous," he said. "We have attempted to lead by example. We’ve done more in a body of 177 people than the part-time mayor of Geneva has done with his own pay.”
(5) Lauzen took credit for a mortgage relief plan offered by the federal government.
“I continue to be dismayed that Mr. Lauzen announced at a debate, the ‘Chris Lauzen Mortgage Relief Plan,’ “ Burns said. “There is no such thing as a Chris Lauzen Mortgage Relief Plan. He chose to attach his name to it, and again, misrepresent himself.”
“I’m not going to apologize for helping people to pay down their mortgage,” Lauzen said. “The (Internet) portal we set up—yeah, I set up that portal, and I’m taking credit for my work. I think I’m doing something good by setting it out and simplifying it.”
(6) Lauzen is receiving a “generous pension” from the state that will be enhanced by 20 to 40 percent if Lauzen is elected chairman of the Kane County Board.
“Yet, this is the very issue he decries as a candidate,” Burns said, calling it a case of, “Hey, I got mine. Let me get some more.”
“I think President Barack Obama would be proud to have Chris on his program,” Burns said.
(7) Lauzen took $70,000 from a firm called International Profit Associates, then gave the money back after it was discovered that IPA was involved in the sexual harassment of 82 women.
“Chris tends to do the right thing when people catch him doing the wrong thing,” Burns said.
Jim Oberweis made similar statements about Lauzen in the 14th District Republican primary race.
“That’s a retread from four years ago, when Oberweis was trying to distract voters from the issues,” Lauzen said. “One of my main sponsors for the Porky Picnic was International Profit Associates. There was no contract, not a single thing done wrong. They endorsed me, I did not endorse them. I returned his money—$86,000, and it hurt to give it back—but I made the determination that we were not going to have that as a centerpiece.”
Lauzen said Burns' press conference was simply a way to go on the attack and gain political ground as the March 20 primary draws nearer.
“How does this help one constituent to make these accusations?” he said. “This is not a way to run a campaign.”
Burns said these and other examples show a pattern of behavior and hypocracy.
“Mr Lauzen is a smart man, but sometimes I wonder if he uses that intelligence to manipulate information,” Burns said.