Chicago GOP Says Dems Infiltrated Their Ranks

     CHICAGO (CN) — The Chicago and Cook County GOP claim in a federal lawsuit that Democrats are infiltrating their ranks in order to claim Republican spots on the ballot ahead of the November general election.
     In a federal complaint filed in Illinois on Thursday, the Republican committees ask that the city’s Board of Election Commissioners be stopped from removing Jeffrey Leef, their nominee to represent the 7th Congressional District, from the ballot as the result of an objection raised by GOP committeeman Frances Sapone.
     An amendment to the party’s bylaws adopted last year disqualifies a candidate from running for office if he or she voted in the primary of another political party in the last eight years.
     According to the complaint, committeeman Sapone has a solid Democratic voting record and “is a perfect example of why the new bylaw was passed.”
     In an “internal party review of the nominating papers and voting records of candidates” for the March primary, officials “uncovered a pattern” in which people with Democratic voting records filed to appear on the ballot, the lawsuit says.
     Republican officials “concluded that the wave of unusual filings was an organized effort to install Democratic Party operatives as Republican Ward Committeemen.”
     Sapone and another alleged Democrat, Sammy Tenuta, won primary elections on Chicago’s far west side. But, says the party, their candidacies are void due to the bylaw.
     In her verified objector’s petition filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections, Sapone said that she and Tenuta were not notified of the vote nominating Leef, and so his candidacy should not be allowed.
     If the Board of Election Commissioners uphold Sapone’s claim, the lawsuit says, the Republicans will have no legitimate candidate to run against the Democrats in the 7th District.
     The party says it holds “broad First Amendment rights to engage in internal leadership selection procedures and candidate nomination free from state interference,” and seeks an order that Sapone and Tanuta are not Ward Committeemen and that they cannot object to Leed’s nomination.
     Stephen Boulton represents the Republican Party. The Board of Election Commissioners did not respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.

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