Kane County Conservative Coalition Chairman Jon Zahm called for the resignation of Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady and Batavia Township Chairman Ellen Nottke on Wednesday after he released 116 pages of e-mail transcripts showing that Burns conducted campaign-related business using a city of Geneva e-mail address.
Zahm held a press conference at 4 pm. Wednesday at Cabooses Bar & Grill at the Geneva train depot. Zahm is a paid political consultant for state Sen. Chris Lauzen, who is running against Burns in the GOP primary race for Kane County Board chairman.
"What we have here is an inside look at how this group plays politics," Zahm said in a prepared statement. "The mask is off, and the taxpayers of Kane County can read for themselves the vulgarities, the hatred, the manipulation, the depravity that some Republican Party insiders practice.
Zahm filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Geneva on Feb. 10, and the city turned over the documents on Feb. 17.
Zahm said he gave Lauzen copies of the e-mails prior to Wednesday, but stressed that Lauzen did not know Zahm was holding the press conference.
"Chris did not direct me to do this," Zahm said.
The FOIA request was for e-mails to or from Brady and Nottke, as well as St. Charles Township Chairman and Kane County Board attorney Ken Shepro, Kane County Republican Chairman and County Board member Mike Kenyon and Kane County Board Chairman and 33rd Distict state Senate candidate Karen McConnaughay.
At the press conference, Zahm went over some of the "key components" of the e-mail packet, which included Burns planning to "crash" a Lauzen press conference and some nasty references by Nottke regarding U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, who endorsed Lauzen a day after he went campaigning with Burns.
"As long as that weasel has decided to crawl into his hole, maybe we should dig it a little deeper for him," Nottke wrote.
There are also some harsh digs at Lauzen's wife, Sarah, who is active in her husband's campaign. "She's wearing a ratty old pink sweater! She looks like she just exited a gang fight!" Burns wrote in a Feb. 2 e-mail to Nottke.
Zahm also pointed to what he called evidence of collusion between Burns, McConnaughay, Kane County circuit court clerk candidate Kathy Hurlbut, Kane County auditor candidate Laura Wallet and Kane County coroner candidate Rob Russell in an e-mail thread with the subject line, "the good guys are getting together again."
According to Zahm, Burns started forwarding private e-mail messages to his public account on Aug. 16. "This shows his intentional misuse of public resources," Zahm said.
Burns said Wednesday night that the e-mails were defaulting to his city address.
“I acknowledge the technical snafu, and I was glad it was brought to my attention," he said.
Burns also decried the Wednesday press conference.
"Jon Zahm’s circus underscores his personal and professional history to intimidate and threaten anyone and everyone who stands in his client's way," Burns said. "Mr. Lauzen should be ashamed of himself to esconce himself with someone as discreditable as Mr. Zahm. For Mr. Zahm to thump his chest on ethics is like Michael Vick teaching a course on the humane treatment of animals.
"Let’s face it, Jon Zahm and Chris have always been about search and destroy," Burns said. "If this is how he's going to run a campaign, God help Kane County."