Political potshots don't just come in presidential races, they also play in Peoria, where a cattleman is suing two Republicans for allegedly muddying his shot at a seat on the county board with a hog-wild smear.
According to the Pekin Daily Times, Richard Burns, who lost his bid for the Peoria County Board last year, charges that then-U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and current Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., signed a letter that went to voters before Election Day charging that Burns had been banned from showing championship hogs at the Illinois State Fair over cheating allegations.
Burns denied it, but found himself hog-tied as the letter came out mere days before the vote, leaving him little time time to respond. The Peoria Democrat not only lost the November election to Republican Brad Harding, but, as the lawsuit filed on Oct. 3 alleges, their barnyard tactics tarnished his reputation as a judge at the annual state fair.
“It’s one thing to say, 'This is politics as usual and bad things are said,'” Burns’ attorney Christopher Ryan told the newspaper. “But it’s another thing to completely fabricate a lie. It takes only a few minutes to call the state fair to see that this is a lie.”
For one thing, Burns reportedly doesn’t show swine at the fair, he judges the cattle contest. Even if he did show hogs, he couldn’t possibly cheat for “large prizes,” as the letter purported, because there is no such payoff for that category.
According to the suit, the letter reportedly not only implies “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.”
Also named in the suit is the Peoria County Republican Central Committee, which paid for the printing. Campaign records also show an in-kind contribution for a mailing from the county GOP.
Schock didn’t last much longer than that 2014 campaign. He was accused of spending a ton of government pork on private travel, gifts and events and the Department of Justice opened an investigation after a story about his lavishly-decorated “Downton Abbey” office décor went viral. He resigned in March and has so far spent $1.9 million of his leftover campaign funds to pay his lawyers.
LaHood, on the other hand, son of former Illinois congressman and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, won Schock’s seat in a special election.
Neither offered comment when contacted by the Pekin Daily Times.