Dold campaign critical of Seals' Facebook comment

  • Robert Dold

    Robert Dold

  • Dan Seals

    Dan Seals

Published: 10/1/2010 12:02 AM

Republican congressional candidate Robert Dold and his Democratic rival, Dan Seals, have something new to fight about: Facebook.

On Wednesday, a posting appeared on Seals' Facebook page tipping off his Internet followers to a news report about Dold.

"Uh oh," began the post, which was attributed to Seals and ran next to his picture. "The Cook County Clerk and States Attorney are now looking into Dold's potential property tax fraud."

An electronic link to a Chicago-area media report raising questions about Dold's residency and voting record in the last decade followed. The comment was posted on Seals' Twitter account, too.

However, representatives of the clerk's office and the state's attorney's office insist there is no investigation.

"We don't investigate. We don't police," Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for the clerk's office, said Thursday.

Likewise, state's attorney spokesman Andrew Conklin said no formal complaints have been made to his office about Dold.

"I don't think there's anything going on," he said.

Dold campaign spokeswoman Kelly Klopp blasted Seals now in his third bid for the House seat and his campaign for the web postings.

"After being twice-rejected by the voters ... Dan Seals is basing his entire third campaign on attacking Bob and shows he'll say or do anything to get elected," Klopp said in an e-mail to the Daily Herald.

Seals campaign spokeswoman Aviva Gibbs called the accusation "preposterous" and said it distracts from the real issue.

Dold, a first-time candidate from Kenilworth, and Seals, of Wilmette, are facing off in the race for the 10th District post now held by Republican Mark Kirk. The seat will be open because Kirk is running for U.S. Senate.

The dispute over the Facebook posting stemmed from a media report about Dold's address last decade, his voting record and his property taxes.

Between 1988 and 2007, Dold was registered to vote in Winnetka, according to Cook County clerk records. The address on the records was his parents' home.

He voted in his local precinct there in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006, the clerk's office said.

Dold and his wife moved to Kenilworth in 2007.

Between 2002 and 2007, however, Dold and his wife lived at a house he owned in Chicago's Roscoe Village neighborhood. And he received a homeowner's exemption for that property that saved the Dolds more than $4,300 during that time, according to the Cook County assessor's office.

The media report and several entries from political bloggers interested in the 10th District race questioned how Dold received the tax breaks while voting in Winnetka. It also described the possible penalties for lying about property-tax exemptions and a discussion about election law.

When asked about the possible discrepancy, Klopp told the Daily Herald that Dold didn't change his permanent residency from Winnetka during the years he lived in Chicago "because he always considered Winnetka home" and knew his family would return there.

"Bob and his wife's decision to temporarily move to the city does not change his permanent residence, and the Cook County homestead exemption is for a principal residence for a year, not a permanent residence," Klopp said.

Based on media inquiries, the Cook County clerk's office notified the state's attorney's office of the situation with a single telephone call, Greve said.

"When questions arise regarding someone's eligibility to vote, we take it very seriously and provide the information to the state's attorney's office for review," she said.

The clerk's office did not file a complaint or pursue any legal action, Greve said. The state's attorney's office isn't pursuing the matter, either, Conklin said.

And so, with both of those organizations saying there is no formal complaint or investigation, Klopp lashed out at Seals.

"We believe Seals is deliberating lying to voters about this to continue his attacks on Bob," Klopp said.

Gibbs, Seals' campaign spokeswoman, defended the Facebook and Twitter posts. She said they typically are created by campaign workers.

"We have only shared an article from a major Chicago newspaper that questioned Dold's eligibility to receive a tax break," she said in an e-mail. "The report discussed the relevant state law and possible penalties, and stated that county authorities were taking the matter very seriously. We had and have no reason to believe that is not true."