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Candidates backing away from Skoien after domestic dispute
Palatine Township Republican Committeeman denies he was with prostitutes
By Kimberly Pohl and Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff

Gary Skoien

 

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Published: 3/11/2009 3:04 PM | Updated: 3/11/2009 8:37 PM

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Palatine Township Republican Committeeman Gary Skoien denies he was with two prostitutes when police say his wife attacked him early Sunday morning.

Skoien, the former Cook County GOP chairman, said he was visiting with two female friends at his Inverness home on the 500 block of Fairway Lane when, according to police accounts, his wife, Eni, became enraged and hit him.

"No money was exchanged. Nobody was naked," Skoien, 55, said. "I'm a politician. You think I'd call police if I weren't afraid for my life?"

Eni Skoien, 36, was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in the incident and given a March 19 court date in Rolling Meadows. Gary Skoien said he filed a 21-day restraining order against his wife on Tuesday. This could not be independently confirmed Wednesday.

Eni Skoien's whereabouts Wednesday were unclear and she could not be reached for comment.

The account offered by Gary Skoien, who has not been charged with any crime in the incident, directly contradicts a report by Barrington-Inverness police.

According to the police report, Gary Skoien "told (police) that he did in fact have prostitutes with him in the playroom when his wife caught him."

Skoien called the report "absolutely wrong" and said he was headed to the Barrington-Inverness police station Wednesday night to speak with the responding officer and fix the discrepancies.

It was unclear late Wednesday if that meeting occurred. Earlier Wednesday evening, Barrington-Inverness Deputy Police Chief Jerry Libit declined to respond to Skoien's assertion that the police report was incorrect, saying the department had not at that point spoken to Gary Skoien about that.

Neither Gary Skoien, Libit nor Police Chief Jeff Lawler could be reached late Wednesday.

According to police accounts, Eni Skoien, a homemaker, discovered her husband and the two women when she came home around 1:15 a.m. Sunday. She told police she became enraged and hit her husband with a closed fist and several times with a toy guitar.

Skoien also said he and his wife have been estranged and living in separate parts of their large home. He said he went to the police station March 3 following a separate incident with his wife, but that did not result in any charges filed. Police could not be reached later to confirm that.

According to the police report from Sunday's incident, Gary Skoien sustained cuts and blood on his hands. He signed domestic battery complaints against his wife.

Eni Skoien remained jailed until her bond hearing Monday morning. She was released on a personal recognizance bond and was not required to post any bail, said Cook County State's Attorney's spokesman Andy Conklin.

Libit said Gary Skoien doesn't face charges relating to solicitation because of a lack of evidence. The women had left the house by the time police responded. Skoien declined to identify the women.

"This is difficult because (Eni is) the mother of my kids and they love her," Skoien said.

In 2007, Skoien resigned as Cook County Republican Party chairman, citing his wife's diagnosis with breast cancer. He's the CEO of Rosemont-based Horizon Group Properties.

As word of the incident got around local political circles, two candidates on the Republican slate for Palatine Township board asked the Daily Herald to remove Skoien from their lists of endorsements.

"I think Gary needs to respectfully resign and work on mending his family," trustee candidate and retired Des Plaines police officer Sharon Johnson said. "He's not the person of character I had originally thought."

Sue Johnson (no relation), who's running for township collector, also backed off Skoien's endorsement. But later Wednesday she said via e-mail that she was no longer seeking to remove Skoien's name from her list of endorsers, having made the initial request "without having all the information. ... My concern is for Gary and his family during this difficult time."

A person who answered the phone at the home of Carol Tesmer, the Palatine Township

GOP committeewoman, simply called the story "a lie" but would not elaborate.

The treasurer of the party, Art Goes, also declined to comment, saying he was unfamiliar with the details of the situation.

Skoien said Wednesday he will not step down from his party post.

Skoien was once seen as a rising Republican player and a few years ago was touted as a potential leader of the statewide party. But as a twice-failed candidate for Congress, Skoien's quest for public offices led as high as chairing the party's Cook County organization.

In 2006, Skoien made headlines when he announced a $10,000 bounty for information leading to the conviction of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

In northwest Cook County, Skoien has been a force in local politics, backing candidates from suburban mayors and township trustees to state senators and representatives.

And he's has been a longtime player behind the scenes in the GOP. He served under Gov. Jim Thompson in the 1980s as head of the Illinois Capital Development Board, which doled out millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded contracts.