Zahm Calls for Resignations Following Release of Burns' E-Mails

Chris Lauzen political consultant Jon Zahm releases 116 pages of e-mails sent by Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns using a city e-mail account, then calls for the resignation of Burns and other Republicans.

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." 

Paul Bryant February 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Some of those exchanges between Burns and Nottke reminded me of the wiretap transcripts of Blago and his wife. Illinois politics alive and well in Kane County.
Noel G. Rooks February 23, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Unless I missed something, though, Burns was discussing Mrs. Lauzen's choice of sweater versus Blago's attempt to extort for a Senate seat.
Sandy Kaczmarski February 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Karen, you are correct that Illinois has specific ethics laws. While Burns' apparent misuse of emails is unfortunate, it hardly compares to Lauzen's blatant running of his campaign out of his district office using taxpayer dollars and fully expecting staff (me) to engage in this illegal activity, for which I filed a complaint. My efforts to FOIA the results of my complaint have been denied. The Atty. Gen's office said our Illinois legislators have conveniently passed legislation regarding these ethics laws exempting them from FOIA requests. Foxes watching the hen house. They vanish behind the curtain with their secret handshakes and "take care of it." So much for transparent government. That's one law that should be changed. Perhaps someone should ask the senator about that ethics violation and what he did about it.
Charles Emout February 23, 2012 at 05:57 PM
While it's easy to just let this discussion get pulled off course by folks wishing to make this a battle of personal wills - I think it's important to not loose sight of the seriousness of the offense and the fact that high level elected officials & their staffers have resigned amid similar illegal/unethical actions involving taxpayer funded email accounts. Here are a couple recent examples from Illinois: 1.) August 2010: Gov. Quinn's Chief of Staff Jerry Stermer" resigned following disclosures that he used his taxpayer-funded e-mail account to communicate with the governor's political consultant." http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2010/08/quinns-chief-of-staff-resigns-amid-email-probe.html 2.) Will County Board member Kathleen Konicki investigated for using her county e-mail account and laptop for political purposes. http://www.ilcampaign.org/taxonomy/term/2301
Charles Emout February 23, 2012 at 06:02 PM
The Illinois State Constitution is also crystal clear when it comes to the issue of using taxpayer supported resources: Article VIII, section 1(a) of the Illinois Constitution states, “Public funds, property or credit shall be used only for public purposes.”
Karen Phillips February 23, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Mr Burns spent the day before the e mail release attempting to provoke press interest in in some completely undocumented negative charges. Mr. Lauzen was in Springfield but Kane Co. received a mailing detailing his plan to reduce spending, assist in mortgage relief and consolidate costs. For whatever reason the press release stories of Mr. Burns unfounded allegations held prior to the e mail release. This was a charge waged with no evidence. Reforming the entrenched operation in our county isn't always without personal attack and profanity leveled at the Lauzen family, as witnessed by the real documentation itself using public resources.
Jim Ryan February 23, 2012 at 06:16 PM
While I view this political race as pretty much inconsequential, I couldn't help but be taken by the Karl Rovian dig at Mr. Burns. I don't understand how anyone could brand the ten-year mayor of Geneva as a 'Republican Party insider' while acting as a paid political consultant to a twenty year career politician in the Illinois General Assembly. I think I'm starting to understand the trickle down theory as it's applied to politics - take the foolishness that's happening at the national level and see if you can make it work at the local level. Without even having to do any additional research (thanks to Sandy Kaczmarski), it appears that Mr. Lauzen, or his posse, should be very careful with their stone-throwing about ethical behavior.
Paul Bryant February 23, 2012 at 06:43 PM
You did miss something. I was referring to the language, not the substance. Both can throw down with the best truck drivers.
Bill Page February 23, 2012 at 06:52 PM
"Charles Emout" is a phony name. Which is fine with me...except when it's used in a legal setting. The person who used this charade has bigger problems than just playing pretend. And Karen, take a minute before you issue blanket denials on Lauzen's part. While I admire your loyalty, you owe it to yourself to check some things out.
Paul Bryant February 23, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Patch.com - legal setting Please explain?
Charles Emout February 23, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Mr. Page, it's unfortunate that rather than coming out and addressing the facts of this email mater directly, offering an appology on behalf of your client, or disputing the points I made above... you instead choose to attack a concerned citizen personally - you should be ashamed of yourself!
Bill Page February 23, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Chuckie Baby...I wouldn't get too comfortable. You're no "concerned citizen," and using a false name on a legal document has its consequences.
Bill Page February 23, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Jon: Anytime you'd like to publicly debate our respective pasts, I'm game. Of course, you always threaten to sue people who reveal certain items, but I'm not one of those afraid of your bluster. Bring it on, or sit down.
Chad Baker February 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Regardless of the politics, he said –she said, etc. The Mayor committed a crime that has been made public. To Charles’ point, not only is it a crime, it is part of the Illinois constitution. If any of the taxpayers committed a crime, there would be an investigation and possible prosecution. Is Mr. Burns above the law?
Jon Zahm February 23, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Bill, the last time we talked, in late 2003, you called me a dirty name and falsely accused me of a crime I did not commit and hung up on me. You were convicted of libel costing your employer a judgment of over $3 million. If we ever run for office against each other I would be glad to publicly debate you. Otherwise I am too busy helping elect good, honest conservative candidates against people you associate with like Burns and Nottke.
Karen Phillips February 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Sandy and Bill, The charges made regarding your complaint were dropped. And Mr. Lauzen, who even I admit could bury himself with documentation when he researches a subject is well prepared as always. In order to be accused of a violation there usually must be some documented proof. If there is no documentation proving this it can be quickly determined if your accusation is without merit. And this is when lawsuits are filed. To sequestere the press and insinuate something without documentation as foundation of proof is where a slippery slope exists. My loyalty is to the call for reform. To call for reform without use of material samples (documents ) would be met with more suspicion. If and when documents are produced they are sometimes denied. I admit I respect Lauzens use oc
Karen Phillips February 23, 2012 at 09:15 PM
In fact sometimes in the heat of political debate those that use documents are even met with hostility. I believe Chris Lauzen has a plan to freeze the tax levy, and much like his Senate counterpart in DuPage hit the ground running with reforms saving taxpayers.
Sandy Kaczmarski February 23, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Karen, the charges were not dropped. I have documents supporting that and the complaint was taken very seriously when I filed it. If I were not telling the truth, I could be sued for libel with these comments. But I know the truth, and I know Lauzen knows the truth. I only bring it up now because Lauzen himself did with me in a recent conversation after all these years. The point I really want to make is like Jim Ryan mentioned, Lauzen should think about throwing stones on ethics when he lives in a glass house.
Bill Page February 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Jon: Call me again and I'll repeat it. I'l even quote from the paperwork. And you should be aware that one of the witnesses at my trial who testified as to the accuracy of my column was Steve Rauschenberger. Kind of a miss for someone who prides themselves on knowing all the facts, yes? As I've said before, I'll take all the hits you have to give on the trial; I kept my word and protected my sources. This isn't middle-school, after all.
Bill Page February 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Karen: I was not referring to Sandy's complaint, which, as she said, is still unresolved. What's out there is far different.
Karen Phillips February 23, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Sandy, but if documents prove otherwise, what then? As in all things I know you will consider this potential or possible reality.
Cassandra Lakeland February 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM
What Burns did was illegal.
ken loebel February 24, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Thank God for the Alderman in Geneva- they got it right- they know how to govern, and represent the people - these campaigns that get ugly are getting old, stale, and it makes you want to throw in the towel on both candidates. Let's clean it up quickly guys, and either run a campaign on your abilities or get out of the election - this stain is unnecessary and represents politics at its worst - a quest for power that stops at nothing. By the way, do either of the candidates have any emails that say something to the effect of, " I want to do __________ because it is the right thing to do for our community, although it may not be popular. I am willing to lose the election to do ________ for my community because I care about the well being of the people of Geneva". If not, then why would we want to elect them?
Marc Avelar February 24, 2012 at 02:02 AM
"Yet when an inspector general's report was about to publicly surface that concluded Jerry Stermer had inadvertently sent political e-mails from his state account, Quinn let his respected aide walk out the door" -- Chicago Tribune, 8/24/10 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-08-24/news/ct-met-quinn-new-chief-of-staff-20100824_1_pat-quinn-wright-jerry-stermer And nearly a year later: "A top adviser to Gov. Pat Quinn was fined $500 Monday for violating the state ethics act when he sent an email related to the governor's political campaign from a state cellphone." -- Chicago Tribune, 8/2/11 http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-02/news/ct-met-stermer-fined-500-20110802_1_jerry-stermer-quinn-administration-dan-hynes As I said earlier, we owe Jon Zahm gratitude for taking the initiative to research this important issue concerning Mayor Kevin Burns' use of the city of Geneva assets. It is not unprecedented for highly paid professionals to pay a heavy price for the same mistake Burns appeared to have made repeatedly since August of last year. Now, has this demonstration of grassroots political volunteers initiative impeded State Senator Chris Lauzen's campaign? Not in the least. At the same time Zahm's press conference, which included attendence by over a half-dozen local press, a countywide Lauzen campaign mailer hit the street. Lauzen's victory on March 20th will be the result of his message and county voters wanting true reform in county gov't.
Justin Eggar February 24, 2012 at 02:18 AM
So was your speeding 1 mph over yesterday. Just sayin ;)
Paul Rogers February 24, 2012 at 03:15 AM
This story, and many of the comments from others, remind me of what David Letterman said in describing the world of show business: "It's like high-school with money." On the other hand, that comparison might be unfair to high-schoolers...at least they can legitimately claim immaturity...a defense that doesn't apply here.
Henry T February 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Considering the effort to get this information on a campaign is minimal (submit a request) it is a standard thing most candidates do. The results can not only provide interesting tactical insight (campaign plans if they are dumb enough to use the wrong account to send the e-mails) you can also get nice gifts like the one Burns served up here ("there is no God") for example. It also gets into the other guys head (classic Sun Tsu)
ken loebel February 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
After reading the poem, I had to copy it - great words.
Al Schroeder Jr. February 25, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Looks like Jon really stepped on the ant hill with this one. It really sent the little insects scurrying. My question is while Kevin “Monty” Burns is social networking courtesy of his taxpayers supplied email address who’s minding the store in Geneva? Now the GOP good ole boys are trying to paint Zahn, and any of us who respect Lauzens record and his ideas for better and reformed Kane county government as some kind of hideous ogres living in Lauzens basement waiting for marching orders. This of course is pure rubbish, we want answers to red light camera’s and pension reform in Kane county not some snide email telling us what sweater Sarah Lauzen was wearing. By the way Ellen, I am wearing green sweat pants with a hole in the knee should you want to make a campaign issue out of it. Bottom line is that Chris Lauzen is running for chairman here and not Jon Zahn. Kevin, for once in your campaign try taking the high road, don’t worry you won’t get nose bleed!
Justin Eggar February 25, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Al, Your post has be scratching my head. 1. You just referred to anyone who disagrees with you as a scurrying insect. Really? 2. What does "social networking" have to do with "minding the store". Are you saying that somebody can't email and run their township at the same time? Doesn't this statement come across as a little strange to you in hindsight? 3. Is his name Zahn or Zahm? Anyways, are you familiar with who he is working for? With that in mind, are you really taking Kevin to task for not taking the high road in light of Zahm (who works for Lauzen) taking this whole thing off topic with this email junk? The bottom line is, do you know where the buck stops for these candidates? Yeah, with them. Thus, Burns is accountable for his campaign and his staff... as is Lauzen. You can't distance yourself from your employees that are acting on your behalf, it just doesn't work like that. Anyways, this campaign has had enough drama. I've finished my tub of popcorn... can we get back to stuff that actually matters? That's what needs to be taking place. Not this.


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