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Who is Steve Balich

Who is Steve Balich

I understand that as taxes increase property values decrease, and more people are either forced to move or figured out that paying rent in the from of Increasing Property Taxes is a good reason to get out while the getting is good. A $6000 Property Tax bill equals $500 per month. People aren’t stupid! everyone knows the tax right over the border is much lower. The people in homer Glen where I live have had it with taxes and our ever increasing water bills. Seniors and others on a fixed income see so much of their disposable income taken away (legally stolen) they have to move or struggle to make ends meet. The problem is that increasing taxes erode the home value so people can’t sell for what they think their property is worth.

The only people moving to Illinois are those who have to because of their job. The people left that don’t move get the privilege of paying higher taxes to make up for those who stay.

I am a Will County Board Member. The first 2 years I was on the Board the Democrats controlled the Board and the taxes were raised to the max. The next 3 years the Republicans gained control and the the tax rate was reduced each year. As part of the Will County Board Republican Majority we did not impose a public safety tax which the Democrats were pushing to pay for building a new Public Safety Building, Health Department, and Court House. The Republican majority made cuts in spending to make the Capital Projects work while reducing the tax rate. As a Board member I was part of the group removing County Board Members from the IMRF Pension program, giving no pay raises to elected County Offices. As a Board member I find it important to spend taxpayer money as if it were my own. Less government, taxes, and regulation are my guiding principals.

Laws or Regulations that are not enforced, make little since, or just a way for government to make money need to be removed or changed. Examples: Getting your money back if you are found not guilty in court for towing, storage, and administration fees is just the right thing to do and is now part of the Will County ordinance. Making it so The County can’t use Aerial Photos to initiate code violations and that violations are to be complaint driven so the County is not looking for violations unless there is a complaint. Contractor now get a 2 hour window as to when the inspector will show up to approve continuing construction. This means contractors won’t have to pay employees for waiting for an inspector to show up.

It is important to stand for issues that benefit people. Since being on the Will County Board I championed many which can be read on my website www.electbalich.com

As a citizen I championed a tax referendum in 2016 which passed with 87% of the vote. This was advisory but about half of the taxing bodies listened to the will of the people. I go to the schools, fire districts and the Township and demand they do not raise the Levy. I say any person voting a property tax increase has the disease “Raise my Taxitis”. Every taxpayer should take the time to go to the meetings and voice their opinion. Every Taxpayer can send emails and make phone calls to stop office holders from getting then dred disease “Raise My Taxitis”. I have been fighting raising the property tax Levy since 2008 and will continue. By getting Citizens Utility Board (CUB) involved we were able to get the Illinois American Water rate increase reduced by over 50%. The rate still went up but not as much as it could have. I am a member of St. Joseph Club, St. Bernards Church, Homer Chamber Advisory Committee, Will County Board Republican Majority, as well as donating and sponsoring numerous community groups and associations.

Steve Balich 815-557-7196 sbalich@comcast.net

Call The County and Ask for a vote by mail ballot

Steve Balich Note: Getting a ballot mailed to you allows you to vote in the comfort of your home. It also gives you the opportunity to do a google search on the Candidates. It is so important to vote!!!! Every vote counts. Electing people closest to your opinions gets you representatives who hopefully vote for more things you want.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Take advantage, request a Vote by Mail ballot for the March 20, 2018 General Primary Election

Will County Clerk, Nancy Schultz Voots, wants to make sure nothing stops Will County residents from voting in the Gubernatorial General Primary Election on March 20, 2018. From now until March 15, 2018 at 4:30 PM, registered voters can request a Vote by Mail ballot. All Aurora residents need to contact the Aurora Board of Elections to request a Vote by Mail ballot.

Requesting a Vote by Mail ballot is as easy as visiting www.thewillcountyclerk.com and clicking on the Vote by Mail icon located in the Quick Links section at the top of the homepage. The Vote by Mail page provides all the ways to request a ballot. Once requested, it is the voter’s responsibility to follow up if a ballot is not received. The Will County Clerk’s website provides a Vote by Mail ballot status lookup on the Vote by Mail page.

Due to the fact that the March 20, 2018 election is a Primary, one must declare a Party affiliation. Illinois law does not require a voter to be registered for a specific Party; a voter can switch Parties from one Primary to the next. A Nonpartisan ballot will contain referendum only; no candidates. Please review the list of Referenda at www.thewillcountyclerk.com to determine if a Nonpartisan ballot will be available.

‘Worse Than Watergate’: ‘Shocking’ House Intel Memo Allegedly Reveals FISA Abuse by Senior DOJ and FBI Officials

‘Worse Than Watergate’: ‘Shocking’ House Intel Memo Allegedly Reveals FISA Abuse by Senior DOJ and FBI Officials

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
by KRISTINA WONG18 Jan 201823,537 from Breithbarth

Members of the House on Thursday said they viewed a “shocking” classified memo allegedly detailing abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by senior Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigations officials in relation to the investigation of the Trump campaign and called for it to be declassified and available to the public immediately.
“It’s troubling. It is shocking,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Fox News. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”

“The facts contained in this memo are jaw-dropping and demand full transparency. There is no higher priority than the release of this information to preserve our democracy,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the DOJ and the FBI.

Another Judiciary Committee member, Rep. Steve King (R-IA), called what he saw in the memo “sickening” and said it was “worse than Watergate.”

Steve King

@SteveKingIA
I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo

9:32 PM – Jan 18, 2018 · Washington, DC
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Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), another Judiciary Committee member, called the memo “deeply troubling” and said it raises questions about the “Obama DOJ and Comey FBI.”

“The classified report compiled by House Intelligence is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation,” he tweeted.

Ron DeSantis

@RepDeSantis
The classified report compiled by House Intelligence is deeply troubling and raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation.

2:10 PM – Jan 18, 2018
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“You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) told Fox News.

“It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, also said to network.

The viewing of the memo came after all Republican members of the House intelligence committee, whose investigators compiled the classified memo, voted Thursday to make it available to all House members. Every Democrat on the committee voted against it.

According to Gaetz, the memo’s contents could lead to the firing — and perhaps even jailing — of senior DOJ and FBI officials.

“I think that this will not end just with firings. I believe there are people who will go to jail,” he said on Fox News’ Hannity.

He said what he saw in the memo also explains why Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently referred the Fusion GPS dossier author Christopher Steele for a criminal investigation.

“I think there will be criminal implications here,” Gaetz added.

The memo also reportedly contains information about the dossier put together by Fusion GPS that alleged Trump and members of his team colluded with Russians in the 2016 election, according to a report by investigative journalist Sara Carter.

It was revealed in October that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Despite being a political document, the dossier was reportedly part of the evidence FBI officials used to apply for and obtain a warrant through a secret FISA court to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Page told Breitbart News in a statement: “After over a year of inciting discord and threats of violence across America, it’s encouraging that the individuals in Washington responsible for these efforts to undermine our great democracy may be held accountable soon.”

Breitbart News reported on March 3, 2017, that the Obama administration took steps to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign using “police state” tactics, including spying on the Trump campaign. That report is widely believed to have led to President Trump’s tweet that later accused the Obama administration of wiretapping Trump Tower.

Members of the public and Congress are now calling for the document to be declassified and released to the public.

Lee Zeldin

@RepLeeZeldin
Immediately #ReleaseTheMemo #FISAMemo & ALL relevant material sourced in it. Every American needs to know the truth! We wouldn’t be revealing any sources & methods that we shouldn’t; only feds’ reliance on bad sources & methods.

7:28 PM – Jan 18, 2018
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DeSantis said the House intelligence committee, pursuant to House rules, should vote to make the report publicly available as soon as possible.

“While the report is classified as Top Secret, I believe the select committee should, pursuant to House rules, vote to make the report publicly available as soon as possible. This is a matter of national significance and the American people deserve the truth,” he said.

“Rule X of the House Rules allows the select committee to publicly disclose any information in its possession after a determination by the select committee that the public interest would be served by such disclosure.”

According to House Rules, if the House intelligence committee votes to make the report public, President Trump would have five days to issue an objection. If he objected, it would take a vote on the House floor.

When Does the #MeToo Reckoning Come to Springfield?

For Immediate Release

When Does the #MeToo Reckoning Come to Springfield?
“We either have a system that checks the abuses of those in power or we have a system where those in power abuse.”

WATCH VIDEO OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE HERE

Read the Springfield #MeToo Letter Here

January 15, 2018 – When Does the #MeToo Reckoning Come to Springfield?

Today, State Representative Jeanne Ives, a conservative reform Republican for Governor, and whistleblower Denise Rotheimer held a joint press conference during which Ives called on both parties to end their bipartisan protection racket and take the complaints of sexual harassment seriously. She demanded that:

(1) The Legislative Ethics Committee should invite Denise Rotheimer to testify to her claims against State Sen. Ira Silverstein at their next hearing.

(2) The 27 other complaints that were ignored for as long as three years should be immediately released to the public with the names of the accusers redacted.

We have elections in March and November. It is because of the failures of legislative leaders, the ethics committee and the governor that we’re at this point. They failed to do their job and ensure that a Legislative Inspector General was in place and that complaints were handled in a timely manner. The voters shouldn’t have to pay the price. Given the political gamesmanship, it is appropriate to give these complaints the opportunities to be adjudicated in the court of public opinion in addition to, where appropriate, public hearings and/or courts of law.

Let me be clear, I don’t know the names or party affiliations of the other legislators against whom claims have been filed. And I don’t care who they are.
We either have a system that checks the abuses of those in power or we have a system where those in power abuse.

Rotheimer’s testimony illustrated the bipartisan nature of the sexual harassment crisis in Springfield. She noted that she turned to Senate President John Cullerton and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin. Neither came to her aide. Both brushed off her complaints with lip-service, instead of action.

Rotheimer added that she is supporting Jeanne Ives in the Governor’s Race because of her independence as a State Representative saying, “Jeanne Ives is the type of leader we need in the Governor’s Office. Jeanne Ives will be in charge. She has already taken charge by using her leadership position to confront the culture of corruption in Springfield and to challenge the policies that enable it to exist.”

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For more information or to book Jeanne Ives, contact Kathleen Murphy 630-329-4680 or kathleenemurphy26@gmail.com
Ives Statement

In Illinois, we have predatory government policies where government is aligned against the interests of its constituents.

Predatory policies that have been pushed by both parties.

We see this with everything from confiscatory property taxes to red light cameras.

But that predation pales in comparison to allegations of elected officials, in both parties, using the power of their offices to prey on subordinates or ordinary citizens petitioning the government for redress like Denise Rotheimer who joins me here today.

When the horror stories about barbaric behavior mainly by men toward women in Hollywood, big media, and politics began to break at the end of last year, it was only a matter of time before the culture in Springfield came under scrutiny.

When we learned of the effectively off-book congressional slush fund—unknown to most of members of Congress—set up to protect members of Congress by making accusers jump through myriad hoops to file a claim and then quietly pay them off if and when they followed through, I, and others, wondered if Illinois politicians might be doing something similar.

And then Denise Rotheimer came forward and told her story.

And then 300 women signed an open #MeToo letter about the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield.

Names were not named but specific examples of unethical behavior, at minimum, were provided.

“Misogyny is alive and well in this industry,” read the letter in reference to Illinois politics.

And it’s alive and well because of what clearly has been the neglect by leadership of both political parties in Springfield and aided obliviousness of Governor Rauner.

How else to explain the fact that the Legislative Inspector General post had sat vacant for three years until two months ago?

How else to explain the 27 complaints against members of the General Assembly that haven’t been investigated?

How else to explain, as Denise mentioned, a Legislative Ethics Committee, 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats, that won’t invite the one woman who has so far been willing to coming forward publicly to testify before their committee so that the committee may make a recommendation on her complaint?

Instead of taking the complaints that have been filed with the seriousness they deserve, the powers that be in Springfield hastily threw together legislation during Veto Session to mandate sexual harassment training to cover themselves.

This way they could go get the press off their backs and go back to their districts with a bullet point for their legislative updates.

It’s another bipartisan scam that furthers Illinois’ corrupt political culture.

Ask yourself this question, given that letter signed by 300 women and the details in it, why do you think it is, only one women has come forward since it was released?

I’ll tell you why. They see the way Denise has been treated and they say, why bother. The politicians will just cover for each other. I have no chance in a system rigged against me.

So today, I’m calling for both parties to end their bipartisan protection racket and come clean:

(1) The Legislative Ethics Committee should invite Denise Rotheimer to testify to her claims against State Sen. Ira Silverstein at their next hearing.

(2) The 27 other complaints that were ignored for as long as three years should be immediately released to the public with the names of the accusers redacted.

We have elections in March and November. It is because of the failures of legislative leaders, the ethics committee and the governor that we’re at this point. They failed to do their job and ensure that a Legislative Inspector General was in place and that complaints were handled in a timely manner. The voters shouldn’t have to pay the price. Given the political gamesmanship, it is appropriate to give these complaints the opportunities to be adjudicated in the court of public opinion in addition to, where appropriate, public hearings and/or courts of law.

Let me be clear, I don’t know the names or party affiliations of the other legislators against whom claims have been filed. And I don’t care who they are.

We either have a system that checks the abuses of those in power or we have a system where those in power abuse.

Candidates Endorsed by Joe Walsh

The March 2018 primary election is officially underway and this means it’s time once again to ensure we help elect freedom-loving, limited government conservatives. Illinois has seen a record number of people leaving for greener pastures, lower taxes, and less corruption. However, there are still many Illinoisans who want to help fix this state.

We will not fix the mess we’re in, solve our fiscal problems, and change the disastrous direction our state is going in if we do not elect good people to serve. And we cannot elect good people to serve without the grassroots activism and action. Walsh Freedom volunteers have helped elect countless freedom-loving, limited government conservatives. And once again, we’re calling on our amazing volunteers to help get the following candidates elected.

CANDIDATES ENDORSED BY JOE WALSH

Doug Bennett, 10th Congressional District
James Marter, 16th Congressional District
Joe Tirio, McHenry County Clerk
Demetri Tsilimigras, McHenry County Judge
Chuck Wheeler, McHenry County Board District 4
Orville Brettman, McHenry County Board District 6
Ersel Schuster, McHenry County Board District 6
Diane Evertsen, Chairman of McHenry County Republicans
David Brooks, Rich Township Committeeman
Steve Balich, Will County Board District 7
James Mendrick, DuPage County Sheriff
Kevin Wiley, DuPage County Board District 6
Kevin Tindall, Kane County Sheriff
Stanton Bond, Kane County Clerk
Judy Martini, Lake County Board District 5
Jeri Atleson, Lake County Board District 10
Michael Danforth, Lake County Board District 17
Daniel Fitzgerald, Cook County Judge
Gary Seyring, Cook County Judge
Burt Minor, Illinois State Rep. District 42
Dr. Jay Kinzler, Illinois State Rep. District 46
Tonia Khouri, Illinois State Rep. District 49
David McSweeney, Illinois State Rep. District 52
Thomas Morrison, Illinois State Rep. District 54
Ken Idstein, Illinois State Rep, District 62
Tom Weber, Illinois State Rep. District 64
Dan Ugaste, Illinois State Rep. District 65
Allen Skillicorn, Illinois State Rep. District 66
Mickey Straub, Illinois State Rep. District 82
Darrin Bailey, Illinois State Rep. District 109
Paul Jacobs, Illinois State Rep. District 115
Dan McConchie, Illinois State Senate District 26
Col Craig Wilcox, Illinois State Senate District 32
George Barber, Illinois State Senate District 54

We will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, putting signs together, and putting mailings together in support of these endorsed candidates. We will not change the direction of our state if we do not elect freedom-loving, limited government conservatives. We need your help. To get involved with Walsh Freedom and to help get these candidates elected, please contact Barb Babbey at 847-804-2112 or Barb@WalshFreedom.com.

Sears’ exit from Orland Park mall won’t leave a vacancy

Sears’ exit from Orland Park mall won’t leave a vacancy

Shoppers at Sears on Dec. 21. 2017 in West Dundee. Sears will close its store at Orland Square Mall in Orland Park sometime between early March and early April. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Mike Nolan
Daily Southtown

Sears’ announcement that it will shutter its store at Orland Square Mall in Orland Park doesn’t mean the anchor space will become a vacant eyesore, according to the company that owns the property.

The store, which has been an anchor since the mall opened in 1976, is scheduled to close sometime between early March and early April, according to Sears Holdings. Liquidation sales at Orland Park and dozens of other stores slated to close could start as soon as Friday, according to the company.

While the mall itself is owned and operated by Simon Property Group, Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust, controls the nearly 200,000-square-foot spot where Sears is located.

Last October, Seritage announced plans to develop a 10-screen 45,000-square-foot AMC Theatre along with retailers and restaurant tenants on the upper level of the Sears space, with their main entrances facing out toward the parking lot, with Sears consolidating store operations in the lower level.

With Sears’ announcement it is closing the Orland location, redevelopment will be expanded to include both upper and lower levels, but plans for the lower level are yet to be finalized, a representative for Seritage said Friday.

Sears closing 103 more stores, including Orland Square
In October, according to the village, Seritage presented plans to Orland Park officials for redevelopment of the 90,580 square foot upper level of the store as well as Sears’ 21,000-square-foot auto repair center.

“Sears going dark will cost us approximately $890,000 in sales and property tax revenue annually, but Seritage’s plans will offset that, generating over $1.5 million in annual revenue to the village,” Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with them on their redevelopment plans for the remaining property.”

Edward Lampert, Sears’ chairman and chief executive, spun off Seritage from Sears in 2015, buying prime Sears and Kmart properties and leasing the stores back to the retailer.

At the end of last September, Seritage’s portfolio included interests in 258 retail properties totaling more than 40 million square feet of space. When reporting third-quarter results last November, the company said that since its inception, it had completed or had begun 70 redevelopments of vacant retail space at properties in its portfolio, which includes mall-based and freestanding spaces.

Some shoppers interviewed Friday after the announcement of the closing were not surprised by the news, saying they knew the chain has been having trouble.

“I know they’ve closed a lot of stores. Still, it’s too bad,” Sheila Lynch, of Orland Park, said.

Like so many consumers, Theresa Nichols, of Oak Forest, said she finds herself buying more items online, including from Sears, although not as often as she used to.

“I like the Lands’ End (clothing) for my kids,” she said of the brand carried at Sears.

Once the Orland Square location closes, that will leave two Sears stores in the south and southwest suburbs — Chicago Ridge and Joliet — although the retailer has outlet stores in Bridgeview and Tinley Park.

A Sears department store at Matteson’s Lincoln Mall closed in 2012, while the retailer shuttered its store at River Oaks Center in Calumet City in 2013.

Although no local Kmart stores are on the current list, Sears Holdings has been closing stores locally in recent years, including Oak Lawn and Tinley Park. Locally, Kmart has two stores, in Bridgeview and Steger.

At the end of its fiscal third quarter, which ended Oct. 28, Sears Holdings operated 594 Sears outlets and 510 Kmarts in the U.S., almost 400 fewer stores compared with the same period in 2016.

mnolan@tribpub.com

Twitter @mnolan_J

Ives Statement on $100K Cap on Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against the State

For Immediate Release

Ives Statement on $100K Cap on Wrongful Death Lawsuits Against the State

“Illinoisans in the public and private sector deserve should be held equally accountable under the law. Unfortunately, for the past three years we have had a Governor who, by his own admission, is not in charge. And so, the same double standards apply, and the same toxic political culture is perpetuated.”

January 8, 2018 – Eleven families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the State of Illinois over the deaths of their loved ones in the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

But in a peculiarity of Illinois law consistent with its reputation as the epicenter of Political Ruling Class domination, the recovery for the families of those who died in the Veterans home due to administrative wrongdoing is capped at $100,000.

According to a WBEZ report, that cap has been the same for the past 46 years. This stands in stark contrast to the unlimited legal exposure of private health care or nursing home facility would face had similar acts of alleged negligence occurred within their facilities. In effect, we have two systems of accountability and justice for Illinois families – one for those victimized by state-run institutions and another for those victimized by privately-run facilities.

“The caps on lawsuits against the state, allows the state to protect itself from any semblance of true accountability – even in cases where people die on its watch,” said State Representative Jeanne Ives, conservative reform candidate for Governor. “If a fatal bacterial outbreak had occurred in a private retirement home, and been allegedly covered up by administrators, there would have been no caps on the lawsuits. We currently have two systems of justice in Illinois: In the private sector, businesses and organizations face unlimited exposure to risk and litigation. In the public sector, bureaucrats and agencies are substantially protected from allegations of negligence or malfeasance through the cap on damages.

“Why should government employees be less accountable to those they serve than private sector workers? Illinoisans in the public and private sector deserve should be held equally accountable under the law. Unfortunately, for the past three years we have had a Governor who, by his own admission, is not in charge. And so, the same double standards apply, and the same toxic political culture is perpetuated.

“I hope my legislative colleagues take up this issue of unequal justice under the law during the testimony they offer this week on addressing the failures at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.”

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For more information or to book Jeanne Ives contact Kathleen Murphy 630-329-4680 or kathleenemurphy26@gmail.com.

Conservative Host Mike Gallagher Endorses Ives On National Program

For Immediate Release

Conservative Host Mike Gallagher Endorses Ives On National Program
“[Electing] Jeanne Ives is absolutely necessary in the State of Illinois.”

January 9, 2018 – This morning, State Representative Jeanne Ives, a conservative reform candidate for Governor, was interviewed and endorsed by radio talk show host Mike Gallagher on his national program. Gallagher expressed his support for Ives saying, “[Electing] Jeanne Ives is absolutely necessary in the State of Illinois.”

On the program, Ives told Gallagher, “[Rauner] completely betrayed our party… I went to West Point. The honor code is, ‘A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.’ A really important part of that is you don’t ‘tolerate those who do.’ So, when Governor Rauner lied to us [about HB 40] and continued crony capitalist bailouts, I had to stand up. That’s what I’ve been trained to do. And that’s what I’ve been doing for 5 years in Springfield.”

Listen to the full interview here.

Tomorrow, nearly 200 supporters will be in attendance at a fundraiser featuring Gallagher that will benefit Ives bid for Governor.

Where: Westin Lombard, 70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, Illlinois
When: January 10, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
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For more information or to book Jeanne Ives, contact Kathleen Murphy 630-329-4680 or kathleenemurphy26@gmail.com.

Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI.”

Byron York: What the Trump dossier criminal referral means
by Byron York | Jan 6, 2018, 6:33 AM

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (pictured right), and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote a Thursday letter to the Justice Department about Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump dossier. Here’s what seems to be going on. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa (pictured right), and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote a Thursday letter to the Justice Department about Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump dossier. Here’s what seems to be going on. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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There’s been a lot of confusion about the decision by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and crime subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham to refer Christopher Steele, author of the Trump dossier, to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation.

The two senators sent a brief letter Thursday to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray. The letter, which was unclassified and released to the public Friday, was a cover letter for what Grassley and Graham called a “classified memorandum related to certain communications between Christopher Steele and multiple U.S. news outlets regarding the so-called ‘Trump dossier’ that Mr. Steele compiled on behalf of Fusion GPS for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and also provided to the FBI.”

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Grassley and Graham said that, on the basis of the classified information laid out in the memo, “we are respectfully referring Mr. Steele to you for investigation of 18 U.S.C. 1001, for statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.” (18 U.S.C. 1001 is the same federal false statements law that special counsel Robert Mueller has used to charge Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos in the Trump-Russia investigation.)

That’s all Grassley and Graham said, or at least all they said that was released to the public. The classified memo, of course, was not released at all.

It was all very confusing. What did the letter mean? Were Grassley and Graham alleging that Steele lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee? To some other congressional committee? To other investigators? If so, to whom?

The move met with skepticism in a number of circles. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, called it an “effort to deflect attention” from the Trump-Russia probe. A former prosecutor called it “nonsense” in an interview with the Washington Post. A law professor speculated that it was “baseless.”

At the same time, few outside the committee seemed to understand what the letter meant. So, here is what appears to be going on:

Steele has not talked to any of the three congressional committees investigating the Trump-Russia affair – the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, or the House Intelligence Committee. Steele did not make false statements to them because he has not made any statements to them.

Steele has, reportedly, talked to Mueller’s prosecutors, but it seems highly unlikely Grassley and Graham are suggesting Steele lied to Mueller because it is highly unlikely – actually, beyond highly unlikely – that the Mueller office would have shared any of Steele’s answers with the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, what were Grassley and Graham referring to in their letter? What are the “statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made” that Grassley and Graham believe might be false?

The answer is that Steele talked – and talked a lot – to the FBI. Remember that when he began to compile the dossier in the summer of 2016, Steele reportedly concluded the sensational information he had picked up – allegations of election collusion and Trump sexual escapades in Russia – was so important that he had to take it to the FBI. Steele told the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones that he first took the material to the FBI “near the start of July.”

That began a series of communications between Steele and the bureau in which Steele made certain representations to the FBI about his work. It is a crime to make false statements to the FBI – doesn’t have to be under oath, doesn’t have to be in a formal interview or interrogation setting, it’s simply a criminal act to knowingly make a false statement to the FBI.

As a result of their talks, Steele and the FBI reached a tentative agreement whereby the FBI would pay Steele to continue the anti-Trump work.

All the while, Steele was also working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS – his dossier was the result of a Fusion anti-Trump project funded by the Clinton campaign. As part of that, Steele briefed reporters on what he had found. In a London court case, Steele’s lawyers said that in September 2016, Fusion GPS directed Steele to brief reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, the New Yorker, Yahoo News, and, later, Mother Jones. Steele did each briefing individually.

One serious question is whether Steele told the FBI that he was telling reporters the same information – those explosive allegations about Trump and Trump associates – that he was bringing to bureau investigators. If the FBI knew that, would they have agreed to an arrangement to make Steele a paid FBI operative investigating the Trump-Russia affair? That would have been a most unorthodox arrangement, with Steele disseminating his allegations to the FBI and the press simultaneously.

That is not exactly how the FBI operates. So now the question is: When Steele was discussing working for the FBI, did he fully inform the FBI of what his work for the Clinton campaign involved, in particular his briefing the press on the findings he would be reporting to the FBI? To use Grassley’s and Graham’s words, were the “statements the committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier” accurate?

One way to find that out is to compare what Steele told the London court with what Steele told the FBI. Some of the London court testimony is public. As for what Steele told the FBI, the Senate Judiciary Committee has examined a lot of dossier-related material from the FBI under an agreement that allows the committee to view materials the bureau has originally produced to the House Intelligence Committee.

It appears that Grassley and Graham are pursuing inconsistencies between what Steele told the FBI and what Steele told the London court. If they conflict, which is true? If what Steele told the FBI was untrue, that’s a problem.

Ultimately, the Steele-FBI deal fell through, for reasons that have never been publicly disclosed.

But there has been much speculation that the FBI used information from the uncorroborated dossier to seek court permission to spy on Americans in the Trump-Russia investigation. That would be a big deal, and it is an issue House and Senate Republicans are determined to sort out.

“I don’t take lightly making a referral for criminal investigation,” Grassley said in a statement Friday. “But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review. Everyone needs to follow the law and be truthful in their interactions with the FBI.”

“Maybe there is some innocent explanation for the inconsistencies we have seen,” Grassley continued, “but it seems unlikely.”

George Papadopoulos Fusion GPS House Intelligence Committee Christopher Wray Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Mike Flynn Senate Intelligence Committee Justice Department Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Dianne Feinstein Lindsey Graham FBI Senate Judiciary Committee Byron York Congress White House Opinion Beltway Confidential

Balich wants to look at potentially anti-business policies through economic viewpoint

Balich wants to look at potentially anti-business policies through economic viewpoint
by Steve Balich on July 24, 2017
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Economic development committee wants to review county policies
Members want to look at potentially anti-business policies through economic viewpoint
By MIKE MALLORYEmailFollow
July 19, 2017

JOLIET – Part of the mission statement of the Will County Board’s Ad Hoc Economic Development Committee is to make sure policies are business friendly and work toward economic growth.

But concerns about regulations that could be harmful to business growth continue to grow among some county officials.

Will County Center for Economic Development President and CEO John Greuling said oftentimes, prospective and existing businesses will run into delays with regulations and permits.

Committee member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, said he wanted to reconsider every part of the county’s building code two years ago, but the county’s land use department didn’t want to. Recently, he wanted to go over every part of the zoning code, but it was voted against.

“It’s basically a hindrance to business,” Balich said. “We as a county say we want business to come and we want to promote business, but we change our rules so it’s harder for you to operate.”

Balich pointed to one in-home business case in New Lenox Township that might have sparked potential changes to the county’s rules on in-home businesses, calling the land use department a bureaucracy that “just wants to expand and grow.”

“Their job, in their mind, is to make more rules and regulations and make it so they have more work to do,” Balich said. “Our job is to say no – we want businesses to come here and we want people to thrive.”

Committee Chairman Chuck Maher, R-Naperville, said committee members should bring any policies they encounter in other committees and see as negative to business to this ad-hoc committee. Greuling and others could do the same, and have the policies reviewed from an economic development standpoint.

“We can bring it in and have a discussion, not from a land use view, but from an economic development view,” Maher said.

Balich said he and other county board members have to be careful they aren’t “screwing” businesses, and that a law shouldn’t be made for one person or 10, it should be made for the entire county.