ST. LOUIS (AP) — An Illinois State Bar Association panel has urged a Democratic candidate for a southern Illinois appellate court to pull a television campaign ad accusing her Republican opponent of ramrodding foreclosure orders while serving as a circuit judge.
The association's Standing Committee on Supreme/Appellate Election Campaign Tone and Conduct's non-binding written recommendation to Judy Cates came after GOP challenger Steve McGlynn disputed the spot's claim that he played a key role in Illinois' foreclosure crisis as a judge assigned to his district's foreclosure docket.
The ad in the race for the seat on the Mount Vernon-based 5th District Appellate Court said McGlynn has signed more than 2,000 foreclosure orders "evicting families from their homes" — a claim the bar association panel ultimately ruled "erroneous" — and that McGlynn routinely "rubber stamps" foreclosure orders.
It was not immediately clear Monday whether Cates, an attorney in the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Ill., plans to comply with the committee's recommendation dated last Friday favoring McGlynn, a St. Clair County circuit judge from Belleville. A message left at Cates' law firm was not immediately returned.
Calling the ad's assertions "flatly false," McGlynn's campaign has argued that the ad violates Illinois Supreme Court rules for ethics in judicial campaigns and "brings disrepute onto the entire court system by suggesting that the courts have created the foreclosure crisis."
"To suggest that the courts have created the foreclosure crisis is like saying the Red Cross creates natural disasters because they are always there for the clean-up," McGlynn campaign spokesman Charlie Johnston said, adding that "foreclosure is not eviction" but instead the start of a process often resulting in homeowners redeeming their homes or restructuring their loan.
"Judge McGlynn has been noted for his fairness and compassion in working with both lenders and families to develop a workable plan to deal with the devastation our poor economy has wreaked on many homeowners and lienholders," his campaign said. "You cannot make statements that are materially false or, in a misleading way, bring the judicial system into disrepute."
Seeking a return to the appellate court, McGlynn was appointed in 2005 to serve on that panel before his unsuccessful bid the following year to keep the seat.
McGlynn and Cates are vying for the seat being vacated by 60-year-old James Donovan, who announced last year his plans to retire this December from the appellate court covering 37 counties. Donovan was assigned to the court in 2002 and was elected two years later.
Dave Anderson, a spokesman for the bar association, told The Associated Press on Monday that both candidates had signed a pledge "to abide by certain standards" while campaigning, though it's up to Cates to voluntarily pull the ad as recommended by the committee.