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Rival: Madigan, Ald. Quinn ‘harass, blackmail, intimidate and strong-arm people’

David J. Krupa, a 19-year-old DePaul University student, is challenging incumbent Ald. Marty Quinn in Chicago's 13th Ward. | File photo

The 19-year-old DePaul University freshman trying to unseat Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Monday accusing Quinn and his powerful political patron, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, of using fraud and intimidation to try to muscle David Krupa off the ballot.

The lawsuit portrays Madigan’s vaunted 13th Ward Regular Democratic Organization as an army of bullies “strong-arming and intimidating” Krupa and the voters who dared sign his nominating petitions.

At first, the campaign was aimed at convincing the DePaul freshman that he should drop his campaign against Quinn.

Pairs of “large male operatives” identified as Madigan precinct captains or agents “routinely followed” Krupa, stood behind the candidate as he went door-to-door gathering signatures and talked “over his head” to dissuade those homeowners from signing.

On one occasion, an operative who had been trailing Krupa allegedly emerged from a truck, instructed voters not to talk to Krupa, then told the candidate, “You’re a nice kid, but I’d hate to see something bad happen to you. … I’d hate to see you get hurt.”

When that didn’t work to intimidate Krupa, Madigan’s minions allegedly engaged in an orchestrated campaign to obtain 2,609 fraudulent affidavits to convince voters who never signed Krupa’s nominating petitions in the first place to “revoke” those signatures.

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Last month, Quinn abruptly withdrew his bid to strong-arm Krupa off the ballot after his petition objection drew accusations of rampant fraud.

Before Krupa even filed his petitions, Quinn supporters had filed 2,796 affidavits allegedly signed by people seeking to revoke their signatures for Krupa. That’s despite the fact that Krupa had collected only 1,703 signatures.

Only 187 of the signature-revocation affidavits actually matched signatures on Krupa’s petition sheets. That means 2,609 were potentially fraudulent, the lawsuit states.

“We have notarized statements from people saying … they were visited like three or four times-a-day for a week by their precinct captain saying that they had to sign it and they wouldn’t stop coming back until they signed. When they caught people outside their house, they wouldn’t let people go into the house until they signed,” Krupa said Monday.

“They operate as a criminal enterprise. They harass, blackmail, intimidate and strong-arm people. They use their public government services to further their own political agenda.”

Krupa acknowledged some people allegedly harassed by Madigan’s minions were “threatened in a way that left the punishment ambiguous.” They were told: “The ward has done a lot for you,” insinuating that, if they didn’t sign the affidavits, city services would come to a halt.

Other times, a refusal to sign would trigger a heated confrontation.

“The precinct captain would just start yelling at them. Getting very red-hot and angry and start saying, `I’m gonna put you down as you refused,’ insinuating that they would be black-listed,” Krupa said.

Former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, an attorney representing Krupa, said it’s not enough that Quinn dropped his ballot challenge.

“We’re seeking a precedent that will not allow any more of these kinds of shenanigans, strong-arm and … goon tactics to be used by Madigan and his minions,” Peraica said, noting that “six or eight” voters have signed affidavits verifying the threats.

“Whether it’s, in the case of Jason Gonzalez, putting phony sham candidates on the ballot to dilute the vote or, in the case of David Krupa, engaging in physical or psychological intimidation and threats against him personally and against voters who signed his petitions.”

In an emailed statement, Madigan branded the lawsuit a “blatant defamation of me and Ald. Quinn.” The speaker said Chicago voters have “seen this highly political tactic before.”

“Distracting voters with ludicrous claims is pulled directly from the ultra-right-wing playbook. The residents of the 13th Ward deserve better. This election should and will be decided at the ballot box and not in the courtroom,” Madigan was quoted as saying.

Quinn agreed Krupa’s lawsuit was little more than “an effort to distract voters from my opponent’s extreme right-wing agenda.

“My opponent is a day-one Trump supporter who surrounds himself with people who share the same dangerous views of the world,” Quinn was quoted as saying.

Last month, Quinn told the Sun-Times that he dropped the ballot challenge because he has worked hard developing a rapport with his constituents.

“I didn’t want some sort of challenge to tarnish my reputation,” the alderman said.

“We’ll have an election and let the voters decide. I’m OK with that.”

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Peraica describes Krupa as a “very brave, serious young man who has dared to challenge the Chicago machine to end the rapacious reign of a corrupt power, only to see just how shockingly corrupt that power can be in defending its ill-gotten power.”

“It also exposes for the public, yet another example of the vicious conduct that underlies and supports machine politics in Chicago. Those politics must end,” the suit states.

Last year, Quinn found himself at the center of a #MeToo scandal swirling around Madigan’s once-impenetrable political organization.

The alderman was accused of playing a pivotal go-between role between his own brother and political consultant Alaina Hampton, who has accused Kevin Quinn of stalking her with a series of harassing text messages.

Madigan fired Kevin Quinn and banned a second lieutenant, Shaw Decremer, from his political organization because of allegations of bullying and harassment.

That didn’t stop political consultant Hampton from filing a federal lawsuit accusing Quinn and Madigan of not doing enough to stop Quinn’s brother from harassing her.

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