CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County clerk candidate Janice Dalton has called for her opponent, Joe Tirio, to withdraw from this month’s race, citing his support of Orville Brettman – a McHenry County Board candidate tied to a right-wing extremist group called the Legion of Justice.
“Brettman’s extremely poor judgment and an obvious lack of conscience are matched only by the decision by my opponent to be a major contributor to Brettman’s campaign,” Dalton said in a statement.
Brettman’s biography is rife with surveillance, burglaries and break-ins tied 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.
Tirio was chairman of the McHenry County GOPAC, a political action committee that sent mailers to residents urging them to vote both Ersel Schuster and Brettman into District 6 seats on the McHenry County Board.
Tirio said he will not withdraw.
“I was 10 and likely more interested in a new bike,” Tirio said in a statement to the Northwest Herald. “I am running for office based on my actions and my performance. Ms. Dalton can’t do that same. Rather, her lack of logic is designed to deceive the good people of this county.”
Tirio has been a major contributor to Brettman’s campaign, according to campaign finance records.
In July, Tirio contributed $1,941 to Brettman’s campaign. In an interview with the Northwest Herald in February, Tirio said the money was not a contribution as much as it was a payback – funds Brettman received during a joint fundraiser he attended with Tirio.
On March 8, Tirio stepped down as chairman of the McHenry County GOPAC. Karen Tirio, his wife, took his place, according to campaign finance records.
Dalton, who filed for bankruptcy on the same day she filed to run for county clerk, said Joe Tirio’s ties to Brettman can’t be ignored.
“There is absolutely no way that [Joe] Tirio could not have known about Brettman’s past, when the basics of his involvement with the Legion of Justice are immediately available with a simple Google search,” Dalton said. “Joe Tirio has proven himself unfit to hold the office of McHenry County clerk and should withdraw immediately.”
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 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 planned a 1969 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.
“[Joe] Tirio wants to be elected to the office of county clerk, which is in charge of running McHenry County’s elections,” Dalton said. “Deciding to bankroll a domestic terrorist’s County Board campaign was an unfortunate decision.”