House District 59 candidate state Rep. Carol Sente, says automated calls about her being a member of the National Rifle Association are lies being spread to hurt her campaign days before the Feb. 2 primary.
One part of the 24-second statement, which began Wednesday, say "Carol Sente is a member of the National Rifle Association and will be trusted to advance issues that would allow people to carry concealed weapons and reduce restrictions and regulations to buy guns."
"I am not a member of the NRA," Sente said Wednesday. "The misleading call is paid for by Citizens to Change Illinois, a Republican political front organization created by House Minority Leader Tom Cross," Sente said in a news release. "I support the Second Amendment, but I do not believe that regular citizens should carry concealed handguns or keep military-style assault weapons."
Founded in 2007, the Plainfield-based Citizens to Change Illinois is fully funded by Cross, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Cross' press secretary Sara Wojcicki defended the claim Sente is an NRA member. Wojcicki said an NRA "official" confirmed Sente's membership, but Wojcicki could not give the official's name or explain why the NRA would have released information about one of its members to Citizens to Change Illinois. NRA officials could not be reached for comment.
Sente's news release also raised questions about whether her Democratic opponent, Elliott Hartstein, might be behind the calls. The statement says Hartstein, currently Buffalo Grove village president, may be "coordinating with the GOP boss to attack her, or if the Republicans are assisting Hartstein because they believe he would be the weaker of the two Democratic candidates this November."
Hartstein said the accusation is false and he had no part in the creation of the calls.
"Absolutely, unequivocally not," Hartstein said. "I don't know anything about the call other than what people are talking about. In my campaign, I focus on telling people why they should be voting for Elliott Hartstein, not about what's wrong with my opponent. I try not to mention my opponent's name. And with limited resources, I wouldn't spend money on robocalls."