Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

FBI Investigates Rock Island County Clerk Richard “Dick” Leibovitz

FBI Investigators are looking into the activities of retiring Rock Island County Clerk Richard Leibovitz and his office. Leibovitz has been in office 22 years. A probe of the Rock Island County Clerk’s office is long overdue. The current charges stem from Mr. Leibovitz’s profiting through  companies he founded,   (he  is registered with the Illinois Secretary of State as President of  American Election Systems, Inc.),  but Mr. Leibovitz never disclosed this business on required forms. Brad Ware of the FBI office would neither confirm nor deny reports of the investigation into illegal practices in the Rock Island County Clerk’s office.

Richard Leibovitz didn’t feel it was necessary to help a first-time office aspirant (i.e., me)  in any way, shape or form, either. He gave me inaccurate information about how to challenge a vote I knew to be bogus, a vote after a very close primary election that changed dramatically overnight and was announced as a “fait accompli” for the incumbent in the morning papers.

The incumbent was actually proven to have lost the popular vote during a recount. (It’s never a good sign when you leave your own “victory” party in tears, as Helen Heiland did.) County Clerk Leibovitz did his best to derail the challenge to 1st Ward incumbent Helen Heiland,  every step of the way.

It was the rigged absentee ballots that tipped the scale in Helen Heiland’s favor, so that she could remain in office to this day, where she has been instrumental in supporting  the ambulance service that East Moline residents do not want and also is a member of the City Council that recently failed to get the downtown area of East Moline placed on “the Loop.” [The Loop is a  recently- announced  new diesel bus service which will  transport tourists around the loop of the Quad Cities…but not to East Moline. ](It’s now accurate to say, of East Moline, “We’re out of the loop.”)

I’m sure the business owners of downtown East Moline are really happy about that development, courtesy of incumbent Mayor John Thodos, 1st Ward Alderperson Helen Heiland, et. al. Heiland and Thodos ran as a team and spent massive amounts of money with a firm in Iowa that campaigned for George W. Bush, all in the service of a very dirty campaign against popular incumbent Mayor Joe Moreno (who probably was also railroaded, but would have had a harder time  proving it.) Since then, Ms. Heiland has whined in print letters to the editor about not succeeding John Gianulis as County Democratic Chairman, despite the fact that Gianulis retired due to the ravages of old age, and Helen Heiland is not far behind him chronologically.

Now, during the heat of a three-way race for Richard “Dick” Leibovitz’s seat, a race between Larry Toppert, Nick Leibovitz (son of the incumbent), and Karen Kinney (scheduled to go before voters in a February 2nd primary), comes the news that Liebovitz has been profiting mightily from his position as County Clerk over his 22 years in office. Invoices that bear Chris Leibovitz’s name (his son) have surfaced. Son Nick, who works in the County Clerk’s office  has been using campaign signs with just his surname in his bid to succeed his father. He was featured on tonight’s Channel 6 news reading haltingly from a typed statement about “restoring his good name and reputation.” At least he was reading—partially thanks to me. And one assumes, since he works for his father in the office, that he can also write (more thanks to his English teachers.) Perhaps I should have given the young Leibovitz boys poor instruction,  rather than working hard and honestly as I did for 17 and 1/2 years in the Silvis Public Schools, only to be given  poor and dishonest service (as my reward) by my elected county clerk, their father. (And the public wonders why teachers quit!)

Leibovitz’s company markets an Auto Poll Book, according to a website, and it is described as a computerized tool to make it easier for election officials to look up voters. Whether federal HAVA money was used to develop it will be determined. One thing is for certain:

The voters that were being looked up during my one-time-only run against long-time incumbent Helen Heiland were mostly “the lame, the halt and the blind.” If the voter was near death, someone in the incumbent’s camp raced out to get the nearly-dead to sign an  absentee ballot.  Some of those absentee voters, to whom I personally spoke, (who were undergoing chemotherapy at the time and were not totally “with it.”)  had little or no idea what it was that they had ostensibly signed. The count announced for absentee voters was totally wrong, and I knew this going in, since I was given almost no absentee votes, when my entire family group had voted for me absentee and totaled more than the number the Clerk’s office wished to give me credit for; and there were others, as a door-to-door search with an attorney to notarize their statements later proved. However, when each and every voter, who has signed a notarized statement that they voted for you, is required to show up in a courtroom the very next morning, with no time to subpoena and no time for some to return to town and some too infirm to leave their homes, the deck is stacked.

So, this was your County Clerk’s office in action under incumbent Richard Leibovitz for the last several years, years dating back to 1988. Rock Island County Board Chairman Jim Bohnsack has been subpoenaed to appear in Peoria on February 27th before a Federal Grand Jury to testify in the ongoing investigation.

One area of concern is  the possible  of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant money by Leibovitz to develop computer software which his private company then marketed and sold for a profit, according to assertions made by Larry Toppert, who is currently running for Leibovitz’s seat.

There are invoices bearing Chris Leibovitz’s name and checks written to American Elections, Inc. dated between April and October of 2008, although the company was allegedly dissolved on September 7, 2007. [American Elections Systems, Inc., was incorporated on May 19, 2009.] The HAVA funds were established in 2002 to aid states in improving the running of federal elections. They distribute millions in grant money each year and those funds are distributed to counties for use in improving their election processes. If my experience is typical, the funds were used to keep the rightfully elected out of office and maintain the status quo desired by then-incumbent Democratic County Chairman John Gianulis, now retired.

According to Friday’s Quad City Times, state records list three officers and directors for American Election Systems, Inc.: Richard Leibovitz; his son Christopher of Lenox, Illinois (listed as director); and James Harmening of Orland Park, Illinois, company secretary.  Harmening is also president of a Chicago-based information technology company called Computer Bits, Inc., which has provided “consulting services” to the County Clerk’s office. Computer Bits, Mr. Harmening’s company, was paid $48,969 since 2008 by Rock Island County, including $35,280 in federal grant funds.

When I ran against 1st Ward (East Moline) Alderperson Helen Heiland, there were numerous documented irregularities in the election. In fact, Democratic insiders (who know the story to be true) told me at the DNC in Denver, on condition of anonymity, that it was quite well-known (behind-the-scenes) that strings were pulled to defeat me when I had actually won.  Absentee votes were the weapon of choice, although there were also irregularities at both polling places, including 3 people entering the voter’s booth together, in one instance.

I had run as a newcomer to politics, a naïve idealistic person who thought that elections in Rock Island County would be run fairly. I soon found out differently, as I went door-to-door speaking with every single absentee vote cast and uncovering fraud at many levels, including a non-existent male voter at one duplex in East Moline where the young girl who answered my question about whether someone with this name had voted absentee from this address told me, “Oh, nobody by that name lives here. Only my mom and I live here, and she wouldn’t vote absentee because she works for John Gianulis at the Courthouse.” (Interesting).

Then there were the people bussed in from the retirement home that is not in my district (two of them the parents of the man who was then Kaplan College’s President) and those voters whose absentee ballots were secured while they were dying or close to death.

When I decided to challenge, I had to work with the County Clerk’s office. First, I was given wrong information about how long I had to file a challenge. I was told in a phone call to come file much later than the deadline. Luckily, I followed my instincts and went down immediately.

When I showed up, in person, to secure the necessary paperwork, the form was mysteriously unavailable and they offered to “mail it” to me. (They said they had to “retype” it).  I asked for the form and told them I’d retype it myself. Ir was after this that I really learned how low the Clerk’s office would really stoop  to defeat someone that then- Democratic County Chairman Gianulis had decided was not going to be allowed to win.  I was given paperwork that contained the wrong statutes. It was by the merest of coincidences that I ran into a lawyer friend on the way home, who, in looking over the challenging petition, informed me that I had been given paperwork with all the wrong statutes. If I had filed them as they were given to me, the challenge would have been thrown out on a technicality.

I was able to file the correct paperwork with the corrected statues but no thanks to the County Clerk of Rock Island County. All election experts in the state told me I must gain access to the absentee ballots because “that’s where they cheat.” Mr. Leibovitz  refused to give me the list of absentee voters (where the cheating mainly took place) and made this verbal refusal while television cameras turned. (I had to ultimately hire Nelson, Keys and Keys Law Firm and get a court order to secure the absentee voters’ names).

I was particularly shocked to be treated so dishonestly and so uncooperatively by the clerk’s office, as I taught at least one of Mr. Leibovitz’s sons in school when a teacher at Silvis Junior High School.

This is your current Rock Island County Clerk’s office in action, Folks. If you want more of the same….(finish that thought).

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14 Comments

  1. It looks like you’ve pulled together a fairly sizeable following these days. I’m delighted to see it!

  2. Airport Employee

    You do not know the half of it. Tricky Dick Leibovitzn has been using his office for corruption since his days as fire chief in Silvis. Promoting his son over others who were more qualified. Stealing items from lost and found. Getting free grants for his kids from his buddy Sen. Jacobs. And now, as board member of the QC Airport, once again promoting people not qualified for the jobs and putting his friends in high places. This guy is a piece of work.

  3. I see a lot of interesting articles here. I have bookmarked for future referrence.

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  9. awesome blog. will wait for nxt update. – Kelly

  10. australian government grants

    Thank you for your great post, I’ve never really posted here before so i wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.

  11. brent henning

    wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Incredible.

    I hope more people come out of the woodwork.

  13. This is an astounding story.

    I see you have written for newspapers so I’m wondering why you didn’t take your research and information to the local papers.

    I would think they would jump at the chance to break this story of local corruption wide open—this is the stuff of journalistic awards.

    Mmmmmm, Pulitzer! :-D

  14. Pamela

    It’s a shame there are so many dishonest people in positions of power. Sometimes they get their “just deserts” but not always, I fear. We don’t hear about the ones who get away with their crimes.

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