A Taste of Chicago: Elections, Mob, Human Trafficking and a Racist GOP

By 11:40 PM, the last 10 precincts still hadn’t reported their final vote tallies. The race for District 17 Cook County Commissioner was too close to call. As it stood, 1,812 votes separated incumbent Republican Sean Morrison’s from Progressive Democrat Abdelnasser Rashid.

Morrison’s also the Chairman of the Cook County Republican Party and Committeeman for the Republican Organization of Palos Township. He’s one of two Republicans on the Cook County Board, which makes him a fairly powerful Republican in Chicagoland.

Rashid is an Arab-American Muslim, Harvard graduate and former IL Deputy State Director for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. He’s been the Deputy Chief of Staff for Cook County Clerk David Orr and Field Director for Jesus Chuy Garcia’s mayoral campaign. Garcia and Sanders are longtime friends. Rashid is endorsed by Our Revolution, a political action organization spun out of Sanders’ last presidential campaign.

And while Rashid’s campaign was supported by groups like Our Revolution Illinois, Morrison’s is suspected of being funded by the Economic Freedom Alliance (EFA). The PAC was founded by Ron Gidwitz, U.S ambassador to Belgium, and Greg Baise, former president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA). The IMA PAC gave the EFA $5.3 million in 2018. Its alleged to have donated that money to the campaigns of former IL Gov. Bruce Rauner, Morrison and Tim Schneider, current chairman of the Illinois Republican Party and former Republican Cook County Commissioner.

Todd Ricketts, son of billionaire GOP donor Joe Ricketts, and Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin, are alleged to be using the IMA as a front to donate to their preferred politicians. Ricketts became the national Republican Finance Chair in 2018. He’d formerly run the Future45 super pac, which spent $25 million to help get Trump elected. Casino magnates Sheldon and Miriam Adelson donated $20 million to the fund.

Morrison and a network of at least five PACs donated nearly $700,000 to his campaign. The group includes: Voters for Sean Morrison ($44,838), Morrison Security ($22,820), Morrison Security Company ($6,176), Morrison Security Corporation ($11,600) and Sean Morrison ($594,878).

It’s also exchanged donations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 134. Its membership includes 17,000 construction, communication, and residential electricians in Chicagoland. It also represents the pari-mutuel clerks at Illinois racetracks and off-track parlors.

Local 134 has been investigated numerous times since the 1960s for its relations with the Mob.

In 1987, a bomb exploded in the car of Charles Dunne, a top aide to the IBEW’s president. It happened in the parking lot of Edelweiss Restaurant, 7650 W. Irving Park Rd., while union officials were at a party inside. At the time, federal officials believed the union employed mobsters. Dunne had recently forced two longtime union officials to resign and had allegedly made derogatory remarks about Italians.

Federal officials were also investigating union officials for kickbacks and selling union cards. In 1990, ex-boss Edmond M. Ryan, Jr., pled guilty to lying about misusing funds during a probe that led IBEW to seize control of Local 134.

Eight years later, the board’s election was rejected by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Its lawsuit revealed that boss Michael Fitzgerald had set up a union social club that solicited tens of thousands of dollars in employee contributions for his reelection campaign.

In 2011, Local 134’s business manager-financial secretary Tim Foley resigned after allegations that he and other officials were double-dipping by collecting pensions from the city government and Local 134.

In January, Voters for Sean M. Morrison donated $2,750 to the IBEW Local Union 134 State & Municipal PAC. Voters for Sean Morrison gave Local 134 another $500 in 2017 and in 2016. The union gave Morrison $1,000 in 2015.

Two months later, Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot marched with Local 134 in the South Side parade. The union gave the Lightfoot for Chicago PAC $100,000 that same month.

During his campaign for commissioner, Morrison accepted a $9,000 donation from Richard Porter, a lawyer with Kirkland & Ellis who worked on Rauner’s transition team. The limit on contributions from individuals is $5,600. Porter is an RNC National Committeeman who previously worked as a special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and was an Executive Secretary of the Domestic Policy Council to Vice President Dan Quayle.

Kirkland & Ellis, founded in Chicago in the early 1900s, has employed numerous lawyers who now play significant roles in the Trump administration: U.S. AG Bill Barr; SCOTUS Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh; Brian Benczkowski, Asst. AG for the DOJ Criminal Div.; Alex Acosta, U.S. Secretary of Labor; Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services; John Bolton, National Security Advisor; and Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel.

A year before Porter donated to Morrison, his firm was representing Caesars Entertainment Operating Company and 170 of its subsidiaries in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The case was heard in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The firm was accused of misleading the court about the nature of its work with Caesars before the filing. Caesars was accused of splitting its casino unit into two companies: The publicly traded Caesars Entertainment, which owned its profitable properties; and its unit put into bankruptcy, which had the bad investments and hundreds of million of dollars of debt.

Morrison is also the founder and CEO of Morrison Security Corporation. It has contracts in 28 states and was working at some of Caesars’ 50 casinos and hotels during the bankruptcy proceedings. Its services include armed and unarmed security guards, off-duty-police, executive protection, loss prevention and canine drug and explosive detection units. It has offices in Illinois, Las Vegas, Orlando and South Florida.

The company dates back to at least 1993, when it was hired by Michael Jackson to provide security detail and body guards after he was accused of child sexual abuse.

In 2002, Morrison Security Group registered with the state of Nevada and opened its Las Vegas office. Its registered agent was Vegas attorney Jerome A. DePalma, a longtime Mob lawyer who married Sam Giancana’s daughter. Giancana ran the Chicago Outfit from 1957 to 1966 and was investigated for conspiring to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro and former President John F. Kennedy.

In 1991, Judith Exner, a mistress of Kennedy and Giancana, said she “carried both money and intelligence data between Kennedy and Giancana ‘on at least 20 occasions.’” She claims it was to influence votes in West Virginia and Illinois for the 1960 presidential election. (The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence barely mentions her in its 1975 report.)

DePalma’s past clients include motorcycle gangs, casino magnates, strip club and security firms. He or his law firm represented Morrison Security for at least a decade.

In 2014, the Illinois Republican Party (ILGOP) hired some of Morrison’s detectives to strong-arm Sarah Dart, a Libertarian Party worker paid to get signatures for the party’s petition to be on the state ballot.

She was contacted by Carlos Rodriguez, a private investigator who works with Morrison, asking about a “missing girl who knew someone she supposedly knew.” She later discovered that was a ruse to get her meet him so he could intimidate her into claiming the signatures she collected were obtained fraudulently. The GOP feared Illinois Libertarians could tip the governor’s race that year and ultimately prevent Rauner from being elected. The signatures she collected were later found to be legitimate by the state hearing officer.

During that time, Morrison was also employing an accused child abuser.

In 2013, Anthony Martin, a top executive at Morrison Security, was arrested for solicitation to meet a child. Martin, then 46, sent text messages to the 14-year-old daughter of a fellow employee who he met at an office pool party hosted at Morrison’s home.

The next year, Morrison wrote a letter to a Cook County judge explaining why it was important Martin be allowed to continue traveling out of state for work. Less than three weeks later, Martin was on a business trip to Colorado when he was arrested for using the Internet to try to solicit an underage girl for sex.

He worked as a bounty hunter and volunteer auxiliary police before being hired by Morrison in 2003. He’s led Morrison bodyguard teams for Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, Chuck Liddell, Jenna Bush and Marie Osmond.

The fact that Morrison vouched for a male employee accused of attempting to have sex with a child, is surprising considering Morrison’s a co-founder of Operation Restoring Innocence (ORI), a volunteer group dedicated to rescuing children from sex trafficking. It claims to have rescued and recovered more than 150 exploited and missing children from traffickers.

Brian McCormack is the group’s other co-founder. He’s also the director and Finance Committee Board Member of Maryville Academy, a Roman Catholic institution that’s Illinois’ largest haven for abused and abandoned children.

It was run for decades by Father John P. Smyth, once one of Chicagoland’s most well-known and respected priests. But in 2002, an investigation revealed that the academy’s “…staff was struggling to handle suicide attempts, sex abuse, drug use, fights and vandalism…” Its treatment program was outdated and Smyth’s methods “exacerbated violent behavior by Maryville’s most troubled kids.”

Smyth was known to have access to wealthy benefactors and politicians and it’s suggested that these relationships prevented the academy from being properly scrutinized by authorities.

In January, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced it was removing Smyth from the ministry after revealing he’d been accused of sexual abuse of minors in “the 2002–2003 time period” when he was assigned to Maryville.

McCormack also sells a lot of weed.

He’s a co-founder of Cresco Labs, a state-of-the-art, cannabis producer with 15 production facilities and 21 retail dispensaries in 11 states. If IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s continued push for the legalization of recreational marijuana passes next year, Cresco stands to greatly expand its operations and profits. Last December, Cresco Labs Co-founder and CEO Charles Bachtell was appointed to the Cannabis Legalization Subcommittee of Illinois Governor-elect JB Pritzker’s transition team.

McCormack’s also the chairperson and largest donor to the GMFM-Garry McCarthy For Mayor PAC. McCarthy was the Top Cop in Newark and Chicago before being forced out due to multiple DOJ civil rights investigations. He’s a longtime friend of Rudy Giuliani.

McCarthy has also done work for ORI. Morrison donated at least $1,000 last year to McCarthy’s campaign PAC.

Rodriguez, the former Chicago Police officer accused of intimidating Libertarian Party workers, is also a volunteer for ORI. He’s a Marine and the CEO and co-founder of Total Protections Consultant, a security firm which does everything from background checks to sting operations. According to his bio, he’s conducted many “murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery and extortion investigations.”

Andrew Holmes is board member and president of ORI. In 2017, the FBI Chicago Field Office presented him with the 2016 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA).

Slawomir Wysocki is an ORI board member and president of Chicago Metal Supply. He’s a Marine and an NRA Certified Instructor who holds certifications from the Dept. of Homeland Security for Active Shooter Scenario training. He’s currently the Director of Special Operations/Investigator at Total Protections Consultant.

Boguslaw Bosak is also an ORI board member and is the CEO of Chicago Metal Supply and Conrad Roofing of Illinois. He’s also a co-founder of Total Protections Consultant and a director at the Polish American Chamber of Commerce. He was a staff member at the Warsaw Military District Command for the Polish Army from 1987–1989.

A review of Morrison’s Twitter account shows support for conservative extremists as well as a few that have been accused of sexual assault.

He follows Charlie Kirk, Dinesh D’Souza, Sebastian Gorka, Mike Cernovich, Matt Drudge, Nigel Farage, David A. Clarke, Jr., the NRA and NRATV, Brad Parscale, Kim Dotcom, Alan Dershowitz, James Woods and Chuck Woolery. He’s followed by Kirk, Freedom Movement USA, Anthony Scaramucci and John Kasich.

He supports Candace Owens, an African-American female conservative who recently stated at the NRA convention that “White supremacy is of no current threat to black America, but liberal supremacy very much is. Liberal policies have destroyed our families, our schools — sent our men to prison & children to the streets. Crime, poverty & hopelessness are the direct result of liberal supremacy.”

Incidentally, she was announced as the director of urban engagement for Turning Point USA in 2017 at a MAGA rally and expo in Rockford, IL.

He also considers the “Left Media (to be) petulant children” who “ignore actual presidential offenses…” like, as he suggests, when Obama’s intelligence agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans. He thinks Nancy Pelosi is a “Shit bag crazy Hypocrite!!”

As chairman of the Palos Township GOP, Morrison appointed Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan to Cook County’s Commission on Women’s Issues. She’s since stepped down from the position after making numerous racist remarks about Muslims and people of Arab decent. According to her Facebook post: “They want us dead because we are Christians, and they see us as infidels; and that is the reality of it. Like it or not.”

To her protestors who have called on her for more than a year to leave her position, she claimed in an email that they are the “new face of the Democrat party. Fascists who scream, whine and cry until they get what they want.” Morrison eventually denounced her comments.

As State Central Committeeman for the 3rd U.S. Congressional District, he and state Republicans did not run an opponent against Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier, during last year’s primary. Nor did they challenge his petition signatures.

Jones supports the Second Amendment, doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage, thinks Congress should repeal Obamacare and wants segregation legalized. He’s the head of the America First Committee, which is affiliated with the white supremacist organization Nationalist Front.

Jones’ and the GOP’s anti-immigration rhetoric is at odds with the large population of immigrants in Chicagoland. As of June 2018, there were 307,000 illegal immigrants in Cook County. Nearly 3,400 (11%) of those are children under the age of 18.

Last July, it was revealed that Rauner was earning money from his investment in Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit ICE detention contractor. GTCR, Rauner’s former private investment firm, raised $3.25 billion for its Fund X which invested in Correctional Healthcare. It later became Correct Care Solutions via a merger.

As of July 2018, there were more than 20 Illinois contractors who had ongoing contracts with ICE.

A month later, he announced to Trump voters that he’d vetoed the Illinois’ immigrant right bill because the state’s “high number of immigrants who lack documentation pushes up our unemployment rate and that holds down wages in Illinois and takes jobs away from Americans. We’ve got to stand against that.”

Morrison’s campaign had its share of racial undertones. Last July, he sent a campaign mailer out warning voters about getting Rashid’s “mud” on them.

Morrison ended up defeating Rashid by 1,377. Or, by 1.1% of the total 883,457 ballots cast. Cook County uses Dominion Voting Systems voting and tabulation equipment.

The win gives him the ability to continue to represent Chicagoland’s conservative Republicans. Last month, he voted against the “Just Housing” ordinance. The law makes it illegal to refuse to show or rent property to people with certain criminal records.

According to the ordinance’s chief sponsor, the bill had “the sole purpose of ending discrimination against families and returning citizens who have been plagued and haunted by the vestiges of Jim Crow.”

Citizen Journalist

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