DARIEN (Heartland Newsfeed) — A Hinsdale Township High School district vice president may be facing legal action following harassment of a local business owner’s relative over signs placed in his yard.
The relative, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation and repercussions against the family and business, recalled the incident on social media.
The official in question is Kevin Camden, the district’s current vice president, who harassed the anonymous individual over signs placed on his property, citing opposition to a referendum measure under consideration in Tuesday’s consolidated election.
“He [Camden] stated that he would never recommend … because of the signs in the yard,” the individual stated in his Facebook post. “I calmly explained to him the ‘Vote No’ position, and the inequities between Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South and he agreed with some of my points. I also stated how shameful it was of him to threaten a local veteran-owned [two tours of duty in Iraq as a paratrooper] business over a school referendum.”
The Darien Police Department was later involved — who investigated the matter — expressed that it wasn’t a “good look” for a sitting school board member to be having harassment police reports filed with the department. Camden even went as far as stating to the officer that “he didn’t expect anyone to answer the phone on a Sunday morning,” as recalled in a follow-up post.
Camden is a 41-year-old lawyer based in Willowbrook who represents Chicago’s Teamsters Local 700 and over 11,000 public sector employees in the area. An attempt to reach Camden was not successful in seeking comments on the matter.
Dr. Richard Skoda, who was previously superintendent in the district, stated in an interview that the board was explicitly told by their district’s attorney that school board members “cannot publicly advocate in their official or individual capacity against or for any propositions regarding the district on the ballot.”
Skoda mentioned that current superintendent Bruce Law and his friends issuing direct mailers supporting the referendum are walking on eggshells, while Camden has completely fallen off the deep end.
“District 86 has sent out at least five mass mailings at taxpayer expense advocating for the need for a referendum such as JFK’s picture and saying ‘we haven’t had a referendum since 1962,’” Skoda added. “Additionally, they called themselves ‘Fix It 86’ and use similar colors as the Yes campaign. I know countless citizens who think these were yes fliers. The taxpayer fliers do everything but use the word YES. IMO they have crossed the legal line of campaigning.”
While the Illinois Council of School Attorneys recognize that school officials and employees want to support school district referenda, they advise school board officials that there are strict limits in what they can say and do, as stated in the interference prohibition clause of the Illinois Election Code (10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) and under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430), which sets significant limits of referendum-related activities in which school officials and district employees may engage in, which cites the following:
- The Election Code’s interference prohibition bars the expenditure of public funds to advocate votes for or against a referendum permits use of public funds to disseminate factual data.
- The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act prohibits State employees and officials from engaging in certain political activities,” the council notes. “It also requires local government units including school boards to adopt an ordinance or policy ‘no less restrictive’ than the Act’s provisions. This means that the Ethics Act’s prohibitions apply to board members and employees, including its ban on engaging in political activity in certain situations.”
Camden’s harassing phone call is the latest incident of referendum supporters resorting to bullying and even threats of physical violence against those who oppose the tax increase. Tuesday’s vote is the third try in two years by the district to get a referendum passed.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.