A Political Pigsty in Peoria, Illinois

     PEORIA, Ill. (CN) – Republicans did a Democrat dirty when he ran for local office last year by spewing false rumors about pig-contest cheating, the man claims in court.
     Richard Burns filed the complaint last week in circuit court against the Peoria County Republican Central Committee, embattled former U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock and current U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood.
     Burns, a Democrat, ran for a seat on the Peoria County Board last year but was defeated in November by Republican Brad Harding.
     He claims that the defendants sent out a defamatory letter to voters four days before the election, falsely stated that the Illinois State Fair banned Burns from showing hogs because he was caught cheating for large monetary prizes.
     As an Angus cattle breeder who owns Burns Farms in Peoria County, Burns notes that he actually judges the state fair’s beef category, that he has never even shown hogs at the fair, and that the fair does not offer large monetary prizes.
     Burns claims the defendants’ statements cannot be construed as hyperbole, opinion or loose or figurative language.
     “They imply not only the potential of criminal conduct, but also impropriety in Mr. Burns professional integrity in agriculture, as well as in his professional reputation as a judge for cattle shows,” the Aug. 5 complaint states.
     Burns seeks punitive damages for libel and defamation. He is represented by Christopher Ryan.
     The Peoria County Republican Central Committee did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
     Schock resigned from Congress in March amid corruption allegations. A federal grand jury investigation into the financial dealings of Schock’s office is ongoing.
     LaHood, a former state senator, was elected earlier this year to replace Schock.

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