CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County Board members say voters should be concerned about one of the candidates running for a District 6 seat this month.
“They should be very concerned about his extreme views,” District 6 representative Larry Smith said.
He’s talking about Orville Brettman – the 70-year-old Huntley man and former Carpentersville president who resurfaced in McHenry County politics last year to make a run at the County Board.
“They should be very concerned about his past actions,” Smith said.
The Northwest Herald examined clippings from newspapers both large and small, published between Elgin, Chicago and Washington, D.C., to assemble the pieces of Brettman’s political past.
The results revealed a biography rife with burglaries, surveillance and ties to the “Legion of Justice” – a violent right-wing extremist group that engaged in a series of terrorist-style raids against left-wing groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In July 1975, in exchange for an immunity grant that protected him from prosecution, Brettman told a Cook County grand jury about his days with the Legion of Justice.
Brettman published a page on his website titled “Lies, Damn Lies, Innuendos,” where he laid out his version of the story:
“Long story short,” the pages says, “even after all these years I can’t help but chuckle. The score was Spies and Cops: 1; Communists: 0.”
McHenry County Board members say it’s not that simple, and voters should beware.
“I don’t think most people realize his background,” County Board District 3 representative Joe Gottemoller said. “If people knew the background, they would be worried.”
“It’s hard to know what to say,” District 6 representative Mary McCann said. “It’s a sad day when the people coming forth to run have these extreme views.”
The residents of District 6 deserve better, District 6 representative Michelle Aavang said.
“There’s no place in the Republican Party, or any party, or any public service, for that level of hatred and violence. ... I’m dismayed that the county party leadership and notable elected officials are supporting candidates of this quality,” Aavang said.
District 6 representative Jim Kearns said he can’t support a candidate tied to a group such as the Legion of Justice.
“I’d much rather stick with candidates who have proven themselves to be good people,” Kearns said. “I have a problem trusting anyone in leadership who supports things like this.”
The perception of Brettman in McHenry County politics isn’t all bad. Look to the McHenry County Republican headquarters, and you’ll find at least one high-ranking member who supports Brettman.
“This sounds very much to me as somebody who is trying to perpetrate a smear campaign against a candidate,” said Diane Evertson, a former County Board member who now serves as the McHenry County Republican Party’s secretary. “Frankly, I don’t want to participate in your smear campaign.”
Evertson offered another side to Brettman’s story.
“As far as I know, Orville is a very nice person,” Evertson said. “He’s a family man. He’s very much concerned about his community and the people in his community. That’s the person I know.”
Brettman could not be reached for this story.