McHenry County Board candidate downplays political scrutiny as 'fiction'

Orville Brettman grand jury testimony says otherwise

McHenry County Board candidate Orville Brettman
McHenry County Board candidate Orville Brettman

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County Board District 6 candidate Orville Brettman has responded to the Northwest Herald’s recent story about his involvement with a right-wing group called the Legion of Justice.

In a statement to the McHenry County Blog, he summed up the dive into his political past as “a fiction created out of whole cloth.”

However, in what the Chicago Tribune characterized as almost 60 pages of “rambling, yet candid” grand jury testimony, Brettman admitted that he was a member of the Legion of Justice until 1971.

“Mr. Brettman,” the grand jury asked, “have you ever belonged to an organization known as the Legion of Justice?”

“Yes, sir,” Brettman said.

The Northwest Herald examined clippings from newspapers both large and small – published between Elgin, Chicago and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s – to find the genesis of Brettman’s politics.

The results revealed a biography rife with surveillance, burglaries, explosives and ties to the right-wing extremist group that engaged in a series of raids against left-wing groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Daily Courier News in Elgin spent six months investigating Brettman’s involvement with the Legion of Justice and published his grand jury testimony Jan. 6, 1979.

During that testimony, Brettman admitted that he took part in several burglaries and thefts as a member of the Legion of Justice.

The McHenry County Board candidate also planned a violent raid of the Young Socialist Alliance office in DeKalb, where “eight to 10 hooded persons armed with tire irons, baseball bats and chemical Mace broke into a second floor apartment at 317 Wood St. and beat six students,” according to The Courier News’ investigation.

In his statement to the McHenry County Blog, Brettman did not confirm nor deny he was a member of the Legion of Justice, but he pointed to his career as a transportation specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration, where he worked from 1997 to 2015, according to his Linkedin profile.

“The vetting for persons who will work on critical air safety systems for the FAA is done by the FBI and typically takes 3 to 4 weeks,” Brettman told the blog. “Were even a little bit of the allegations these political hacks are printing was true – even the slightest bit – don’t you think the FBI would have found it? They didn’t find it because it was nothing but allegations put forward by communists.”

The McHenry County Blog is maintained by Cal Skinner, a former Republican state representative from Lakewood. Brettman was Skinner’s campaign manager in the 1990s.

“I hired him (as campaign manager) for his judgment to do strategic and tactical thinking for me,” Skinner told the Northwest Herald in 1996.

Downplaying his involvement with the Legion of Justice is something Brettman has done before, according to records.

The Daily Courier News followed up on its investigation with a story headlined “Brettman sidesteps questions.”

At a 1979 news conference, Brettman said this about the newspaper’s scrutiny: “I didn’t come here to talk about allegations being made by communists and socialists throughout this country.”

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