In a sworn deposition in a federal court case, the former mayor of Broadview testified that Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin called and asked him to meet with a strip club consultant who has fought village officials for more than a decade over plans for a new adult-entertainment venue.
The spokeswoman for Durkin — a Republican from Western Springs who faces a primary challenge in March — said Durkin didn’t do what ex-Broadview Mayor Henry Vicenik said he did.
“Mr. Durkin did not make any call to facilitate a meeting,” Durkin spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday.
According to video and a transcript of Vicenik’s deposition obtained by the Sun-Times, however, Vicenik said Durkin inserted himself into the long-running legal dispute between Broadview and Chicago Joe’s Tea Room in a phone call in 2011 or 2012.
Chicago Joe’s sued the village and its elected officials in 2007 because officials rejected plans for a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week “cabaret.” The case still is pending in the federal court system.
During his deposition in June 2013, Vicenik initially said only that an unnamed “third party” asked him to meet with strip club consultant David Donahue, who has led the effort to win approval for Chicago Joe’s.
When a lawyer for the Broadview trustees, Cynthia Grandfield, first asked Vicenik who called him to suggest the meeting with Donahue, Vicenik replied, “A friend of mine.”
VICENIK: “I’m not going to divulge that.”
GRANDFIELD: “You have to.”
VICENIK: “He’s an attorney . . . You can sit here until midnight. I’m not going to say anything.”
Lawyers stopped the recording of the deposition at that point. After they conferred, the deposition resumed seven minutes later, according to the video recording.
Grandfield then asked Vicenik, “Who was the third party that set up the meeting with Mr. Donahue?”
Vicenik replied, “Jim Durkin.”
He later also said, “Jim Durkin called me and asked if I would talk to Dave Donahue.”
After talking with Durkin, Vicenik said he called Donahue and they met at a deli in Chicago. The meeting took place about a year and a half before the deposition, Vicenik said.
Durkin was subpoenaed in the case repeatedly but his lawyers convinced the judge he shouldn’t have to testify.
“I think whatever involvement he had in that one conversation is tangential at best,” the judge said.
Durkin previously worked for another firm that had represented Broadview — which is not in Durkin’s district.
“Mr. Durkin did not facilitate any meeting nor did he ever participate in any meeting with these individuals,” said Demertzis, the lawmaker’s spokeswoman. “His then-firm terminated all representation of the village of Broadview and its officials in 2009, and a federal judge agreed that Mr. Durkin had no relevance nor bearing on this case.”
Vicenik could not be reached this week, and his lawyer declined to comment.
In his deposition in the case in March 2014, Donahue denied asking Durkin to contact Vicenik for him, but said he had a conversation with Durkin before Vicenik called him.
“I think I spoke to Jim Durkin about something,” Donahue said. “I told him that I had tried to get ahold of Henry Vicenik, and I had not been able to get ahold of him.”
Donahue said he didn’t know why Vicenik called him after that.
“I assume Durkin may have mentioned it,” Donahue said. “If he ran into [Vicenik], he told him, you know, ‘Donahue was looking for you.’”
In an interview this week, Donahue said, “I did not ask Jim Durkin to set up any meeting. As far as I know, he didn’t.”
Donahue once was a staffer for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and later worked for then-Cicero Mayor Betty Loren-Maltese.
In addition to his efforts to open Chicago Joe’s, Donahue testified that he was paid $1,500 a week as a consultant to Polekatz, a strip club in Bridgeview.