Posts Tagged ‘Bridget Bittman
Documented PROOF that American Elections Are Clearly Rigged & Voter Fraud is Covered Up by the Establishment.
[Click above to embiggen: a real life, firsthand account of trying to expose crimes that were covered-up by local public officials and employees, when all the local public entities circled the wagons in an ideological effort to hide crimes from public scrutiny. The exact same thing is being done regarding voter fraud at the local level too!]
Joel Pollak has an essay up today on Breitbart that I think does what Republicans always do…in that they for some reason never want to tell the full, unvarnished truth that Americans are desperate to hear from anyone in the political world. His essay, “How the Election is ‘Rigged’ — And How It Is Not,” does that thing that the GOP loves to do where someone will say, “Oh, it’s too dangerous to talk about that (even if the thing is true).” I like Pollak a lot generally, but he is no Andrew Breitbart. If Andrew was still around, I believe he would be calling this election flat-out rigged. Here’s why:
There may not be a giant spider sitting under the US Capitol pulling strings to rig the election nation-wide, but that doesn’t mean that at the local level Democrat operatives don’t decide for themselves to rig elections every way they can (and then other Democrats circle the wagons and cover up everything to protect their friends and colleagues). One thing I notice Republicans do that leads to them losing arguments is that they cede points unnecessarily, especially when Democrats use straw men to box them into corners like that. The Party of Stupid keeps doing the same things but expecting different results in this way (which is why so many people are sick of the Party of Stupid).
With voter fraud, Republicans love to values-signal by standing up and saying “there is no national effort to rig elections because we can’t find evidence of that.” First of all, Democrats are really good at hiding things and Republicans are awful at uncovering things, so just because Republicans can’t prove something does not mean that Democrats are not doing it. The Democrat Party is really like Loki, the trickster god in Norse Mythology: you need to just always assume it is getting away with something horrible today that you are not aware of because you are not as smart at figuring out what they are doing as they are at hiding what they are up to.
I want to use an analogy involving the firsthand on-the-ground work that Megan Fox and I did in recent years in Orland Park, where we went up against elected Democrats in office and the George Soros-funded lobbying group The American Library Association (ALA), all of whom worked to conceal sex crimes and even the accessing of child pornography that was going on at one affluent suburban library in Chicagoland. This is the subject of the book that Megan and I put out, SHUT UP!: The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment.
Megan and I had this library dead to rights: we used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain the library’s own official internal documents, which kept a record of library employees choosing for many years not to call the police when patrons reported masturbation happening in the computer lab, creeps stalking women and children sexually in the library, a man trapping a woman inside a study room and sexually accosting her through the glass terrifying her, three witnesses reporting a man openly viewing child pornography (which he admitted to doing!) on the library’s computers, and other horrors.
The library’s clear strategy involved never reporting any of this because then there would be a police record and the local media might print that in the police blotter in the newspaper…and if that happened then there was a chance that someone like Drudge would see that and make it a big national headline. Every once in a while something like that happens, where Drudge links to a local story about something vile happening in a public library…and all hell breaks loose for the people in the library who were covering up the terrible things.
When Megan and I confronted the public officials in Orland Park about what we discovered, all these Democrats closed ranks and circled the wagons. They told the police chief to harass us to scare us away from our investigation. Megan and her children were threatened with violence by library staffers and their family members. The library board encouraged an employee to file a SLAPP lawsuit against us, so that we would have to spend time and money defending ourselves against that (which they hoped would make us give up our investigation into the wrongdoing going on in that messed-up place). In the end, we were able to convince the Illinois Attorney General’s office that this library was breaking the law left and right and we also prevailed in two lawsuits against both the library and the Village of Orland Park that forced them to stop breaking the law and violating the public’s rights.
As an analogy for what happens with voter fraud at the local level, I want to highlight some of what happened to us in the above. Just watch how obvious it is what Democrats do in situations like these.
* Megan and I noticed that something didn’t seem right. This is analogous to someone noticing that voter fraud is happening.
* Megan and I compiled evidence and presented it to elected officials at a public meeting; the elected officials didn’t want what they were doing to be uncovered, so they attacked, harassed, threatened, and tried to destroy us to shut us up. This is analogous to the relentless attacks made on anyone who talks about voter fraud, which is why I think guys like Pollak are so timid when it comes to taking on this issue aggressively. Pollak appears wary of being discredited/maligned for talking about a subject that the Establishment does not want talked about…because people in the Establishment want the status quo to continue and they do not want the boat to be rocked.
* No one at any national level was telling the people who work at the Orland Park Public Library to look the other way and not report sex crimes or child porn viewing happening in that building…but no one at a national level had to tell them that, because the people who work at that messed-up library just ideologically WANT to cover things like this up since they do not have the moral compass that would lead them to whistle-blow and expose what is happening. This is a very important thing that Republicans and writers like Pollak don’t seem to grasp: that no one has to give orders or plan this stuff out. Ideologically, people who marinate in Democrat politics learn along the way that if there is a problem then you cover it up because that’s for the greater good of all the things that ideologically Democrats want to accomplish. So, when Democrats see that child porn is being allowed to be viewed in a public library when that is a federal crime, the people who work at the library realize that if anyone found out about that happening that the library would be harmed (because it’s reputation would suffer, people would realize it is not really a safe place for children, and maybe it would lose grants and taxpayer dollars because the public would be angry that the staff allowed these things to keep happening in there). Democrats hide bad things and cover stuff up because they believe that this is better than the public ever finding out about what’s happening…because covering it up means everyone keeps their jobs and keeps their funding and in the big scheme of things keeping that library flush with cash is more important than making sure it is never used for viewing child pornography in the computer lab.
* The media relentlessly refused to ever report on the fact that the library’s own internal incident reports showed that library staff were covering up all these crimes…and that the Orland Park Police Chief, Timothy J. McCarthy, didn’t seem to care in the least that this was happening. Instead, we documented how Chief McCarthy used police resources to harass Megan and me to shut us up. Orland Park went after the whistleblowers and steadfastly refused to clean up everything awful happening in that library. Megan and I had to take both the library and the Village to count and beat them in two lawsuits for anything to change. But, still — to this very day — we have to continue watching that place like a hawk and FOIA-ing them to see if any incidents are happening that they don’t report to the police. We also watch their spending closely, because before we started auditing them the library staff was using taxpayer money to go out for $500 steak dinners, take trips to New York City for fun, throw themselves $5,000 parties, and make taxpayers pay for their snack cakes and sweet treats and Subway sandwiches on a rolling basis (instead of buying their own food, like every other working person has to do). We also caught these people using taxpayer money to buy gold jewelry for trustees (who are prohibited by law from accepting compensation) and run up big tabs for other jewelry store purchases as gifts for staff.
It took two whole years of relentless hard work month after month to force those crooks to give back the gold and the money they stole and for the Village and that library to comply with the law. They fought us like they were demons being doused with holy water, scratching and biting and clawing the whole time. And everyone in the Village circled the wagons and protected each other…even though most of these people probably didn’t know what was going on at the library.
The problem is that when they were informed that library staffers were doing terrible things, instead of coming out against the terrible things and wanting to put a stop to it these Democrats’ natural instinct was to cover everything up and threaten/harass/attack the whistleblowers.
They denied that child porn was ever accessed (even though we had the incident reports showing it was). They lied about the sex crimes never happening (despite former library employees coming forward and confirming what was going on for years). They refused to acknowledge the authority of the Attorney General when she told them they were breaking the law and they needed to stop. Instead of stopping, these Orland Park officials blew raspberries and said that the Attorney General had no power over them. It took going before a judge and filing lawsuits against these monsters for them to finally stop…because their insurance companies got involved and took one look at what they were doing and MADE THEM STOP before the judge ordered them to stop.
All of this same stuff is happening with voter fraud. Count on it.
Here’s how it’s happening and why the election truly is rigged, whether Pollak wants to see this or not:
A.) Democrat operatives on the ground, working independently in their local communities, see some door left unguarded and realize they could get away with voting in the names of dead people or sick people or elderly people. Maybe this has been going on for decades and it is now institutionalized because they’ve always gotten away with it and that’s just how things are done. This is similar to how at the Orland Park Public Library the corrupt culture in that place created an environment where staff just knew they had to turn their heads and not call the police when child porn was accessed, because the library staffers felt that the greater good required them to overlook crimes happening in front of them.
B.) People at local boards of election must know that fraud is happening, but they look the other way because they do not want their community to be embarrassed if the fraud was reported. They don’t want people to lose their jobs and they don’t want to bring shame to their area. This is similar to the Orland Park public employees who knew for years that sex crimes were allowed to happen in that place, but no one wanted to embarrass their community or see anyone get fired. So, covering it all up and keeping quiet was better in their minds and they rationalized it by thinking “well, that only happened once or twice” or “no one has been raped, so someone being creepy isn’t so bad” or “no one really gets hurt if someone is looking at child porn and who is to say what is porn anyway?” This is how Democrats think.
C.) Local officials circle the wagons. All public employees stick together with a union mentality. If the public employees at the library are in trouble for covering up crimes, the public employees over at the police department don’t want to investigate or put a stop to what is going on…because those are their fellow public employees. They all stuff their faces together at the Holiday Party and they sit beside one another at picnic tables for the summer cookouts. They all enjoy the same platinum-encrusted benefits and pensions and all that. So all of these public employees feel that if one branch of public employees is exposed for lawbreaking and wrongdoing, then it’s bad for all of them. They see the world as Us (the public employees who get fat off the hog) versus Them (the public, which all of the public employees hate).
D.) The entire hierarchy of government does not want to ever investigate itself or prosecute public officials or public employees for wrongdoing. Megan and I caught the Orland Park Public Library Board of Trustees and management willfully violating the Open Meetings Act. Violations of the Open Meetings Act are misdemeanor crimes in Illinois. The Attorney General concluded that, YES, the library trustees and other public officials did indeed break the law. That means the Attorney General stated they had committed crimes. Orland Park Police Chief Timothy J. McCarthy refused to do a damn thing about that. The State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, refused to do anything about that. The Attorney General’s office said that if the local police and the state’s attorney wouldn’t prosecute that lawbreaking board, then the AG’s office wouldn’t get involved either.
E.) The media likes to claim that there is no evidence of voter fraud happening because there are no convictions for voter fraud and the police aren’t turning up incidents of voter fraud. But look how aggressively the corrupt public officials in Orland Park hid what was going on there…and how all these higher levels of Illinois government refused to prosecute the public officials in Orland Park when they were caught dead to rights violating the law? Everyone in government wanted all of this to go away…and for Megan and I to be silenced so that we would not tell anyone about what we had uncovered. We wrote a book about all this…and the American Library Association actively works to suppress the book and keep other public libraries from carrying it…because they do not want people to know everything that we uncovered in Orland Park.
Republicans need to talk about how Democrats cover for each other and how public bodies should not get to decide that other public bodies should not be prosecuted.
We really need some kind of independent, private, third-party, autonomous entity that would be in charge of looking for wrongdoing being committed or covered-up by public employees. Because the police in this country are corrupt in localities such as Orland Park, where they feel that it is Us vs. Them and they will never move against their fellow public bodies. The federal government doesn’t care about the local level, because they always have bigger fish to fry, allegedly. Also, most federal agencies are obsessed with drugs and getting convictions related to drug trafficking or weapons smuggling. Things like child porn being openly allowed to be viewed in a public library or voter fraud at the local and county level is too small a fish for the Feds.
In short, here’s what it all boils down to:
1.) Voter fraud is happening more places than there is official documentation, because the corruption in this country is so endemic that local public bodies cannot be trusted to stop wrongdoing and lawbreaking at the local level. Orland Park proves that. Megan and I wrote the book on that.
2.) The Media works to protect government and not report anything that hurts Democrats. This means that even if someone out there discovers voter fraud is happening and can prove it, our Media in this country will ignore it or will try to help the government bodies involved by attacking the whistle-blowers. Our Media really is a state propaganda operation that should never be trusted.
3.) No national, coordinated effort is needed to direct local bodies to allow voter fraud or participate in it, just as there is no national effort needs to tell local public libraries to look the other way when sex crimes are happening in those buildings. The Democrats who work in these places just automatically look the other way. Ideologically, this is what their first instinct is and there is no mechanism in place to correct that instinct.
4.) The public doesn’t know what to do when they encounter wrongdoing. They usually call the police, but then the police say they won’t do anything about the terrible thing that’s happened because they have murders that are unsolved and it’s too small of a fish for them to care about (voter fraud, sex crimes in a library, etc.) If the public contacts the Media, the Media won’t care because they don’t want to make the local public bodies look bad. If someone is persistent and goes to state or federal authorities, the person will hear that they need to go to the local police and file a complaint…and see how that is a circle? It always ends up with the local police not wanting to investigate the voter fraud or the sex crime at the library…but higher up in the hierarchy people will be told that if the local police don’t care then there’s nothing anyone can do, because that’s not what their department does or it is out of their jurisdiction.
This means that if public officials are involved in wrongdoing and the public catches them, 98% of the time the other public officials can circle the wagons and keep any of this from ever making news. Troublemakers who blow the whistle then get targeted for destruction to ensure that other people will be too scared to speak out.
Megan and I documented all of this in our book. It is the same exact thing that happens with voter fraud. Which is why, of course, the ALA is working so hard to keep you from reading our book.
We may have written about the lengths that local government went to hide crimes that were happening in the local public library…but you can see that all of this is analogous to local government officials and the Media and other players also working to keep the true extent of voter fraud hidden as well.
It is all rigged because we the people decided to stop scrutinizing and supervising local government. We ceded too much power to local officials, many of whom are sickeningly corrupt.
None of this is going to change until you start paying attention to what is happening in all of your local government departments. But, of course, there’s so many of those that most people don’t even know where to start. Megan and I started with one corrupt library board and it took the two of us two years to bring about change. Most people would have given up…which is why all kind of horrors like voter fraud keep happening.
Hillary Clinton does not intend to change any of this. Donald Trump says that he will. To me, there’s an easy choice to be made if you care about ever changing our corrupt system and putting an end to the Establishment’s circle-the-wagons-and-cover-it-all-up approach to hiding the Establishment’s own crimes.
[Click above to embiggen: the miraculous thing that got me to admit that there is something kind of awesome about sportsball after all. And — Great Merciful Zeus! — this is actually a bad picture of Kris Bryant! Move over and get out of town, Zac Ephron. You are nothing to me now!]
For those of you who don’t know, Chicago is right at this very moment flush with excitement over the Cubs doing well in their sportsball-playing this year. There are “W” signs all over town, which when I first moved here I thought were left out by people who were either celebrating and/or protesting George W. Bush.
But it has nothing to do with our former president. It’s actually a Cubs thing…with the “W” standing for “Win.” I think. People here go nuts whenever the Cubs win at sportsball real good. The “W” is how they let you know they approve of this sportsball winning on a large public scale. And if you don’t like that, you can just suck it, Chicago-style.
Generally speaking, I know as much about sportsball as the average straight man knows about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Maybe less. Growing up in the ruins of inner city Cleveland, I never played much sportsball as a kid because there weren’t a lot of other kids around to play with. If I had grown up on the halcyon fields of suburbia, maybe I would have turned out differently. I would have still ended up gay because I believe that was baked-into my DNA…but I could have turned out as a gay who was wild about sportsball. I’ve only recently discovered that such jock-strapped unicorns do indeed exist (and are actually quite plentiful in Chicago). Who knew?
For some perspective, the blight and urban decay that accompanies one-party Democrat rule over major US cities had completely engulfed Cleveland in the 1970s…and what I call “The Nothing” inched closer to our street every year throughout my childhood and teen years in the 1980s and 1990s, with families moving away and homes and businesses being abandoned. Those of us that didn’t flee the city for the suburbs got to watch it rot from the inside out, which is something that happened to every city that elects only Democrats to most public offices in town. Detroit. Pittsburgh. Gary, Indiana. Your own town (if you keep voting for Democrats).
My parents loved sportsball — especially the Indians — and every now and again they would have the optimistic idea (or sad delusion) that dragging me to a sportsball game would either be a good idea or be “good for me,” or both. This, in retrospect, would be like your taking your gay bestie from work to Hooters for his birthday and hoping he’d see something he liked (other than the boneless Thai chili or peach habernero wings on the menu). Bless your heart. Your poor, sad, delusional, but well-intentioned heart.
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[Click above to embiggen: Carla Burkhart and her Thundercats-loving attorney Joshua Feagans have lost their SLAPP in DuPage County.]
Something that all conservatives need to start paying more attention to are SLAPPs: strategic litigation against public participation. These are lawsuits that Democrats file against people and groups who expose corruption in public bodies. There has been a resurgence in SLAPPs in recent years, as the Left increasingly uses this type of “lawfare” as a way of silencing the public and taking away people’s First Amendment Rights to Petition government for change and redress of grievances. The goal of a SLAPP is to make people afraid of writing about (or otherwise speaking out about) bad things that public bodies do and to intimidate watchdog groups so that people are too afraid of being sued to engage in the political process or use the Freedom of Information Act to uncover wrongdoing by public bodies.
Essentially, Democrats have figured out that to get away with doing more terrible things, they need to go after and silence people who figure out they are doing terrible things. SLAPPs are a weapon they use to pervert the legal system and bully people into shutting up and allowing Democrats to do whatever they want with taxpayer money in public bodies.
Megan Fox and I were hit with a SLAPP lawsuit in 2014 — which we prevailed in — by a woman named Bridget Bittman, who just happens to be heiress to the Comiskey family, which used to own the White Sox sportsball team up until the 1950s. Comiskey Park was named after her family. Bittman’s maternal grandmother Dorothy Comiskey Rigney was the last female owner of the White Sox; she married one of the baseball players that she owned, John Rigney. Megan and I encountered Bittman, the Comiskey granddaughter, in the fall of 2013 when she worked as the public spokesman for the Orland Park Public Library. This was the library that Megan and I discovered was covering-up sex crimes for years, including men openly masturbating at computers, sexually harassing women, stalking female employees in the stacks, accosting children sexually, and even accessing child pornography (with library staff knowing it kept happening, but choosing not to call the police as they were required by law to do). Bittman lied to the media about what was going on, claiming that no sex crimes were happening. We also discovered that library employees had been spending thousands of dollars at a local jewelry store buying gold for board members and even taking trustees out for $500 steak dinners to ensure that the board always did what library staff wanted and the sex crimes were kept covered up.
Megan and I used FOIA requests to find the library’s internal documents that revealed that library staff had for years deliberately covered up incidents like this. We had to take the library and the Village of Orland Park to chancery court to force them to give us some documents that they tried to keep hidden. The American Library Association (ALA), a group funded by George Soros, in fact instructed libraries to cover up incidents of sexual activity happening in libraries and to evade FOIA production by never writing anything down about anything bad that happens in a public library.
After we broke the story, former female library employees came forward to tell the public about how — when they complained about sexual activity and harassment happening in their work area — they were told by library management to either look the other way and ignore it or quit their jobs. The Orland Park Chief of Police, Timothy J. McCarthy, then engaged in roughly two years of abuse and harassment aimed at intimidating, harassing, and threatening us to try to scare us away so we would stop reporting on the sex crimes that had been allowed to fester in the library on his watch. For some reason, the government of Orland Park wanted to keep allowing child pornography to be accessed in that library and for men to continue to be allowed to use the library for sex. SOMEONE powerful in Orland Park WANTED this to keep happening and Police Chief McCarthy appears to have been tasked with threatening/frightening/harassing whistleblowers to keep Orland Park’s secrets hidden.
We document everything we uncovered in our investigation and everything that McCarthy and the Orland Park Police did to us in our book, SHUT UP! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment. One of the worst things that Orland Park did was to put library employee Bridget Bittman up to suing us in federal court with a SLAPP lawsuit. That was supposed to shut us up and scare us away. Her intent was to restrict our future speech and to make us never write about the library and its terrible employees again…so that Orland Park could continue to hide what had been allowed to keep happening there. That plan backfired because we not only prevailed when the SLAPP was dismissed but there’s now a 666-page book all about Timothy J. McCarthy, the Orland Park Police, the Orland Park Public Library, and Bridget Bittman’s SLAPP.
I hope that John Kraft and Kirk Allen, who run the Edgar County Watchdogs and their site Illinois Leaks, write their own book about the SLAPP that Carla Burkhart and Joshua Feagans (from the slimeball law firm Griffin Williams, LLP) filed against them…in what was very similar to the attempt by Bridget Bittman and Orland Park to silence Megan and me. At their heart, SLAPPs are shakedown efforts that should be viewed as a kind of extortion racket. Only disreputable attorneys file SLAPP suits because these attorneys know from the beginning that they will not prevail in the suit. The point of the litigation is not to win…but instead just to scare a reporter or community activist into ending whatever First Amendment protected activity that reporter/activist is engaged in. In our case, Megan and I uncovered years and years of wrongdoing at a public library that the Village of Orland Park wanted to keep hidden from the public; so, a public employee was encouraged to file a SLAPP against us in federal court to scare us away and make us agree to never write about those crimes again (if the lawsuit was dropped, of course). With the Edgar County Watchdogs, Burkhart and her sniveling attorney Feagans wanted Kraft and Allen to stop writing about the College of DuPage scandal, where the Watchdogs were instrumental in busting that public body for years and years of wasteful spending. The Watchdogs uncovered documents showing that Burkhart was awarded an architect’s contract for a large sum of money when Burkhart is not in fact an architect (and should have never signed an architect’s contract). Other questions were raised about the awarding of no-bid contracts that Burkhart appeared to benefit from, as well as Burkhart’s chummy relationship with disgraced College of DuPage officials who now appear to be under FBI investigation.
Burkhart went to the Griffin Williams firm the same way that someone would go to an ambulance chasing attorney with meritless medical claims against someone or another. SLAPPS are shakedowns. Feagans is one of the worst attorneys I have ever seen in my life. This is a grown man who maintained a Facebook page where he advertised his love of Thundercats (a line of hunky toys similar to He-Man in the 1980s, with muscular cat/human hybrids that fought evil in their underpants). If you review the filings in Burkhart’s SLAPP, you will see that Feagans’ work is poorly written, emotional, sarcastic, and unprofessional. In other words, exactly what you would expect from a grown man in his 30s who is still obsessed with Thundercats.
Yesterday (7/29/16), a three hour hearing was held in DuPage County court where Feagans’ nonsense was picked apart verbally by a judge who was none-too-pleased with his time being wasted by Thundercats-loving Feagans and SLAPP-happy Burkhart. The judge completely dismissed the SLAPP. He ripped this bogus lawsuit to shreds. From what I understand, Feagans cried like a small child after that happened. No doubt, he went home to his Thundercats collection in his room, told his wife he needed “Alone Time,” stripped down to his Underoos, and confided in Lion-O or Panthro or maybe even Mumm-Ra that life is just not fair and that he can’t ever win. Sword of Omens and Eye of Thundera, why is being a lawyer so tough and beyond the scope of my abilities?
Burkhart is pretty typical for a SLAPPer. She appears to have the money to burn on a lawsuit she knew she wouldn’t win, thinking that she could spend a few thousand to hire Feagans to essentially extort the Watchdogs. She just had to find a law firm dumb enough to sign her as a client on an un-winnable case. Perhaps she came across Feagans’ Facebook page, saw that he was a grown male attorney still really into children’s toys from the 1980s, and figured: BINGO! I’ve found my BOZO!
Feagans and the Griffin Williams firm then filed this bogus lawsuit for her…with the expectation that the Watchdogs would not be able to afford an attorney to fight it for them. The scary thing about SLAPPs is that they are wickedly effective when the target of the SLAPP does not have the means to hire attorneys for a defense and is too afraid to fight the suit him or herself pro se in court. What usually seems to happen is that someone is SLAPPed and then the shady attorney for the SLAPPer makes an offer that the SLAPP will go away and be withdrawn if only the target would agree to never talk about or write about the SLAPPer again. The SLAPPer’s slimeball attorney engages in extortion/shakedown here: if you don’t want to go to the trouble of defending yourself in court, then you must tear down everything you wrote about the SLAPPer and agree to restrict your future speech and never write about the SLAPPer or the bad things she did again. Otherwise, you will have to spend years and thousands of dollars fighting in court to make this bogus lawsuit go away.
See what they do here? If you catch something horrible happening with a public entity like the College of DuPage or Village of Orland Park and you expose it, to punish you someone connected in some way to that public entity will file a SLAPP against you. That SLAPP is never intended to survive a motion to dismiss or ever enter into discovery. These lawsuits never make it to summary judgment, let alone a jury. The purpose of the SLAPP is just to scare you, make you wish you never wrote about the public body or spoke out against it, and then you are supposed to beg the SLAPPer to make the lawsuit go away…with the promise that you will never get involved in local politics or participate in government activism in any way again. The SLAPP is designed to teach you a lesson, and that lesson is: do not mess with Democrats and what they are doing with taxpayer money because you will be sued if you get in the way of that gravy train.
The SLAPPers are usually people with money to burn or people who are in some way being funded by either the public entities themselves or a lobbying group that benefits from the public entities continuing to engage in wrongdoing. In our case with Bridget Bittman, she was not only the Comiskey heiress (with the resources of someone whose grandmother owned a major league sportsball team) but she also received funding from members of the American Library Association to pay for her SLAPP against us, since the ALA had a vested interest in seeing us silenced (as they never wanted anyone to ever hear about things that the ALA does to cover up sex crimes in public libraries). With the Edgar County Watchdogs, Carla Burkhart wanted to silence John Kraft and Kirk Allen because she (and likely others connected to the College of DuPage scandal) didn’t want the public asking questions about all of the no-bid contracts and other shady dealings that the Watchdogs were exposing.
The thinking seems to be that if a SLAPP is targeted at a reporter/activist that the SLAPP will be so scary that the investigations stop, people become too afraid to write about the wrongdoing, and the people who engaged in whatever terrible things were being written about get away with whatever they did wrong. I wish that SLAPPers would come forward and at some point be honest with the public about what goes through their minds. Do they run a cost/benefit analysis and come to the conclusion that investing a few thousand dollars to hire a clown like Joshua Feagans (Thundercats, HO!) on the chance that the SLAPP could work is worth that roll of the dice?
Did Carla Burkhart, like Bridget Bittman before her, really believe that filing a SLAPP would make reporters give up on a story of great public interest? It amazes me that an attorney like Feagans is allowed to keep practicing law. In a just world, a lawyer like him should lose his license for not advising Burkhart that her lawsuit was meritless and that filing it would only be wasting the court’s time because the First Amendment precludes silencing reporters who are reporting on wrongdoing that involved a public body. I do not understand why the State of Illinois allows Joshua Feagans to continue being an attorney when he and his firm Griffin Williams file SLAPP lawsuits that they know have no hope of succeeding. He and everyone at his firm who signed off on this should be disbarred.
In my opinion, there should be a One Strike and You Are Out rule when it comes to SLAPPs. Feagans should not be given a second chance. If you read any of his filings, you will see within the first paragraph that he is too immature to be practicing law alongside real grown-ups. And that’s even without looking into his Facebook love of Thundercats and other children’s toys.
As for Burkhart, she has 35 days to refile and start this whole process again. Efforts are underway at the federal level to create a national Anti-SLAPP law that would severely punish SLAPPers for abusing the court system and using it as a weapon in the way that Burkhart and Bittman did. I hope those efforts succeed. We cover Bittman’s SLAPP in exhausting detail in our book SHUT UP!, which I hope legislators read as yet another firsthand account of a SLAPP and its intended purpose of silencing criticism of public bodies and discouraging participation in government.
[Trailer for our book that deals with Bridget Bittman’s SLAPP, filed against us in October 2014. We prevailed in this meritless piece of lawfare, but SLAPPs typically succeed in silencing their targets. SLAPPs are a form of lawfare used by government employees to chill free speech and make people afraid of challenging bad government.]
You may not realize it, but we’re currently facing an epidemic of SLAPP lawfare in this country. A SLAPP is “strategic litigation against public participation,” a term coined by George Pring and Penelope Canan back in the 1990s in their book, SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out. This remains the definitive reference on SLAPPs, though a lot has happened since the book was written.
If you are looking for a hobby and a new topic of interest, I suggest starting a binder or notebook and researching what’s happening with SLAPPs. They are an insidious way that the government chills First Amendment protected speech by using the legal system as a weapon against the public and investigative reporters. This is happening where you live, I guarantee…but of course your local media is not talking about it. Typically, people never hear about SLAPPs until either they or someone they know personally is hit with a SLAPP.
Megan Fox and I were SLAPPed back in 2014, when Bridget Bittman (the granddaughter of the woman who used to own the Chicago White Sox sportsball team) sued us in federal court in an effort to silence our First Amendment rights. Bittman at the time was the public spokesman for the Orland Park Public Library and was told to sue us during a board meeting by Diane Jennings, one of the library’s trustees (and also the most loathsome human being I have yet met on this planet). Megan and I had uncovered years and years of unreported crimes that occurred in the library, including: (a) library staff allowing a man to admit to accessing child pornography without police being called, (b) staff allowing men to masturbate in the library openly with their penises fully exposed without calling the police, (c) men stalking women in the stacks, (d) men sexually harassing female library employees but the library telling the women they should quit if they didn’t like it, (e) a man trapping a young woman in a study room while accosting her sexually, (f) young children being accosted sexually in the library, and other sex crimes that all warranted police intervention…but time and again the library staff CHOSE not to call the police when they should have. This was a clear pattern that Megan and I uncovered, where the Orland Park Public Library made a decision to NOT call the police because it seems clear they knew that if they had done so then the police would have come and made arrests…and that would have been bad publicity for the library.
Since Bittman was in charge of the library’s publicity as its spokesman, the library Board pushed her to hit us with a SLAPP to scare us away and silence us. Megan and I wrote about it in our book SHUT UP! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment (now available in paperback and as an eBook too). We prevailed in this SLAPP and our First Amendment rights were upheld, though Bittman’s lawsuit cost us more than two years’ of time to defeat and many hours of work defending ourselves which could have been spent writing, researching, and participating in other investigations into corrupt government.
So, by suing us, Bittman was able to strategically steal time and resources from us that prevented Megan and me from exposing other public bodies that were doing the same things that the Orland Park Public Library was doing…or even prevented us from finding more of what Orland Park was trying to desperately to hide. Bittman knew her lawsuit would never even make it into discovery and she never had any intention of winning (since she knew she never had any ground to stand on); the whole point of the lawsuit was to be a time-killing energy drain that would distract us, take up our time, and cost us precious resources to defend against.
Consumerist has started reporting on SLAPPs, which is great because I hope that more people out there realize that this is happening. In a recent article, Consumerist talked about SLAPPs and how they “leverage the legal system — and all its attendant costs and Byzantine paperwork — in an effort to chill free speech.” In our example with Comiskey heiress Bridget Bittman, Megan and I were forced to come up with a way to defend ourselves in a meritless lawsuit filed by a woman who not only had the remnants of the Comiskey fortune at her disposal but was also being funded by members of the American Library Association (who wanted Megan and me silenced because we were exposing the consequences of years and years of bad ALA policy). Having to mount a defense against even a meritless lawsuit is soul-killingly expensive because of how our system works and how a plaintiff with disreputable attorneys can manipulate the system to cause delay after delay. In Bittman’s case, almost every time there was some filing due, her attorneys (which were the sort of people who advertise on bus benches or in the local coupon paper that comes to your doorstep) would invent some new excuse for why they needed an extension. Sometimes they would do this the day that the filing was due. If everything they said happened to them was true every time they wanted to delay the process, that law firm should be the star of its own reality show: there were mysterious deaths, severe illnesses that would have made great episodes of House, M.D., claims they suddenly had to fly to London, a dog eating the important papers, etc. The strategy appeared to be one of delay, delay, delay…hoping that financially Bittman could outlast us and break us before the lawsuit would ever enter into discovery phase.
I spent hours reviewing everything that Bittman’s attorneys filed, as well as all of the documents that our own attorneys had to file in response. Many more hours were spent collecting documents to rebut Bittman, combing through emails for responsive documents, and assembling everything related to our investigation into the Orland Park Public Library so it could all be reviewed by attorneys. I probably put 200 hours of work, at least, into this sort of tedious-but-necessary document review in our defense against her SLAPP.
That’s 200 hours that I was then not able to spend writing, researching, going to board meetings, or otherwise working as an investigative reporter and citizen sleuth covering corrupt government in Illinois. So, Bittman’s SLAPP lawsuit created an obstacle to my work exposing government corruption, since the SLAPP took time and resources away from me that I would normally have used to investigate bad local government (such as the Orland Park Public Library Board).
SLAPP lawsuits typically end before discovery begins, which is what happened with Bittman’s suit. A federal judge dismissed more than half of the counts she filed against us and then Bittman withdrew the remainder of her lawsuit before any documents were ever exchanged in discovery. No depositions were ever taken and Bittman never had to produce any documents that would have been embarrassing to her or that would have proved she was dishonest in the various claims she made in her suit. The way our legal system is setup, someone like Bittman can file a SLAPP to silence your free speech, never intending to win the lawsuit, and drag it out strategically with delays and extensions…but still have the option of withdrawing it in the end (before she would be exposed in discovery for being dishonest). In Illinois at least, there is no mechanism to punish a plaintiff for bringing a SLAPP using this strategy. That’s why more and more people like Bittman are doing this around the country when they don’t like that someone is criticizing a public body or public employees.
In Illinois we have a weak anti-SLAPP law called the Citizen Participation Act (CPA), but it only is useful in very specific and limited cases in dismissing a SLAPP before the discovery phase. Courts have severely weakened the CPA and have limited its use to only the most rare of occasions. This means our state legislature needs to go back to the drawing board to strengthen it. The courts want to maintain a balance between allowing legitimate lawsuits to continue but ending these vexatious SLAPP suits…and courts in Illinois have felt that balance was not achieved with the CPA.
As Consumerist notes, California has the best anti-SLAPP law in the country that is most pro-defendant: it allows for an expedited hearing on the defendant’s motion to strike, and will award the defendant attorney fees and court costs if the defendant prevails. But remember that there is no federal anti-SLAPP legislation. That’s something that Free Speech activists are trying to remedy right now with Congress. Something that you could do to help would be to write, email, or call your Senators and Congressional representative and tell these people that you want them to support anti-SLAPP legislation at the federal level. Tell them about the book that Megan and I wrote about Bridget Bittman’s SLAPP and what she did to us to try to chill our First Amendment protected speech.
Congress is now considering the SPEAK FREE Act, which would be federal anti-SLAPP legislation. As it’s written now (before it will no doubt be monkeyed with in committees), if the SPEAK FREE Act had been in place back in 2014, Bridget Bittman’s SLAPP against us would have been tossed out much faster than it took for us to ultimately prevail against her. She sued us in October of 2014 and her lawsuit was not fully terminated until May of 2016. That was almost two years’ of time and energy drained by a lawsuit that never involved any discovery or depositions or anything. Because the federal court system works so slowly on its own…and Bittman’s attorneys aggressively pushed for one delay after another to keep things delayed even further…this SLAPP dragged on and on absent anything like the SPEAK FREE Act to eradicate it quickly.
SLAPP lawfare is used by public officials and public employees to tie community activists up in court so they no longer have the time, money, or energy to criticize public bodies. Big developers can also use SLAPPs to crush and silence community opposition to their projects. Large corporations like AMC can even use the threat of a SLAPP to silence people’s free speech rights (in a recent instance reported by Consumerist of the tee-vee network menacing a small website that used to post spoilers and fan theories about the show The Walking Dead…but the threats from AMC’s lawyers silenced and shuttered that spoiler site).
How you can help
1. Setup a Google alert for yourself for the key words SLAPP, ANTI-SLAPP, SPEAK FREE Act, etc. This way, you will be alerted every day if stories appear somewhere on this topic. And you can then start to see how prevalent this problem is.
2. Let people know about our book SHUT UP! and that it involves a SLAPP lawsuit filed against us by Bridget Bittman, granddaughter of Dorothy Comiskey Rigney, the woman who used to own the Chicago White Sox. Bittman’s lawsuit cost us time and resources to defend against and we worked hard to give other people facing SLAPPs lessons and tips for what they, too, can do to defend themselves against this type of vexatious lawfare.
3. Contact your Senators and your Congresscritter. Tell them that you oppose SLAPPs and that you want them to support the SPEAK FREE Act to stop people like Bridget Bittman from being able to file SLAPPs to silence people who take on corrupt local government.
4. Make studying SLAPPs into a new hobby. It’s more interesting than bird watching…and SLAPPs come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. The way to bring change to our government is to empower citizens to be able to fight for that change…and one of the main weapons the government is using against the people are these SLAPPs. Let’s take this away from them so that people will no longer be intimidated into silence or feel that they need to SHUT UP! if they don’t want to be sued by powerful or rich people who have more resources than they do.
My new book (written with my friend Megan Fox) is coming out next week: SHUT UP! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment.
This book tells the story of the lengths that local government goes to (with the help of national lobbying groups) to silence the First Amendment rights of Americans when they criticize and petition the government for change. Something is very wrong with this country when even local library boards and villages out in the suburbs believe that they can throw everything and the kitchen sink at Americans to chill free speech, silence them, and shut them up.
Back in 2013, Megan and I stumbled upon years’ of unreported crimes in the Orland Park Public Library. It happened by accident, after a library staffer tipped us off that they “got a lot of that” in there. Curious what “a lot of that” meant, Megan and I used the Freedom of Information Act to look into the Library’s internal incident reports and legal invoices, to see what problems that Library had through the years. Immediately, the Library Director chose to involve the Orland Park Police Chief, Village staff, and the law firm Klein Thorpe Jenkins to try to scare Megan and me away so that we would not be interested in the incident reports she wanted to keep hidden.
The Library illegally redacted reports and hid other documents entirely. Some records appear to have been destroyed completely, but what we found shocked us: years and years and years of sex crimes happening in that Library, with staff never calling the police. In the instances where something bad happened at the Orland Park Public Library and police were called, it was library patrons (not staff) who called the police. A pattern emerged where it seemed that Library staffers were doing all this on purpose, as if they knew that if they called the police then what happened in that Library would make the news…and they didn’t want that bad publicity.
Very quickly, Megan and I were targeted for destruction. The American Library Association (a lobbying group that is funded in large part by George Soros) sent “crisis managers” to advise the Orland Park Public Library on how best to silence and scare Megan and me away. We did some digging and saw that the ALA does this to every mom or dad who discovers something awful happening in a Library and complains about it. The ALA targets the parents who complain and chases them away. This has been happening for years.
Figuring out who was behind all this — and who in Orland Park wanted the sex crimes to keep happening in the Library and to keep going unreported — took several years to figure out. FOIA requests gave us some insight and Megan and I took to attending board meetings to petition the library board to address its many problems. Instead of listening and doing the sensible thing, the Library decided to go to war against us…even encouraging a Library staffer to sue us in a bogus SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) suit.
Along the way, Megan and I became experts in the Freedom of Information Act, the Open Meetings Act, and SLAPPs. We lived to tell the tale, which oddly was a story that the local media refused to ever report on accurately. You see, if you ever find yourself up against local government (especially an entity like a library board that no reporter wants to write a negative story about, no matter what happens in there), you will realize that the media is too chummy with government to ever tell the real story.
In our book, we document run-ins we had with reporters from the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Southtown, NBC, CBS, the Orland Park Prairie, the Orland Patch, and other outlets. Not a single one of these people ever wanted to report on the sex crimes that were covered up in the Orland Park Public Library for years and years (which all appeared in their incident reports, which reporters chose to ignore). No media outlet wanted to report on the female employees of the Library who were sexually harassed on a daily basis by men masturbating to porn in the Library. None of this was happening in downtown Chicago and these were derelicts doing any of this…this was all happening in an upscale, affluent suburb of Chicago…where local politicians and police seem to have decided that they were all going to deliberately look the other way and never stop any of this (because someone wanted this to keep happening at the Orland Park Public Library).
Every terrible thing that a local government entity can do to you to shut you up and scare you away was done to us. Sometimes twice. Sometimes eleven or more times.
The book goes on sale next week. I hope you buy it because in addition to telling our story of what the Village of Orland Park, the Orland Park Police, the Orland Park Public Library, and the American Library Association did to us it’s also an account of ways that you can fight back against entities like this when they come after you.
The First Amendment Right to Petition our government for change and redress of grievances is under attack in this country. Washington DC is largely a lost cause, depending on how you look at it…but your local government can still be changed, if citizens are brave enough to do that. I hope Orland Park goes down in history as an example of how wrong local government is when it thinks it can silence its critics.
Because even if the local media refuses to report on any of it, someone could always write a book about every terrible thing that happened. And if irony holds, the very same public library that declared war on the First Amendment might very well be forced to carry a book on its shelves all about every awful thing it did to try to silence people!
– Book will be released last week of May 2016 –