By Illinois Review
Taking a page out of embattled President Joe Biden’s political playbook, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau now has initiated lawfare against his top political rival, IR Publisher Scott Kaspar.
Last night, on a Friday evening, just before this Labor Day weekend, Kaspar was served by Pekau’s cousin with a complaint signed by Pekau’s Mayor Pro-Tem and Orland Township committeewoman, Cindy Katsenes. The complaint was filed by Katsenes’ husband, Orland Park real estate lawyer Chris Katsenes.
Friday’s complaint against an Illinois Review owner marks the fulfillment of a threat first launched by IL GOP officials on April 7, 2023 – Good Friday – and carried out by several others connected with IL GOP leadership over the Easter holiday weekend.
Pekau has curried favor with IL GOP state central committee members Jeanne Ives and Sean Morrison, both of whom had endorsed Pekau in his failed congressional run last year. Ives, along with RNC national committeeman Richard Porter, were special guests invited by Katsenes to a get-out-the-vote rally just before the April 4th consolidated elections.
Pekau and Katsenes would see sweeping losses on April 4th, including 9 of their 10 endorsed candidates and a failed referendum in which two-thirds of the voters rejected Pekau’s attempted power grab to become a strong mayor like Chicago.
Katsenes’ complaint against the IR Publisher alleges various infractions for a mail piece endorsing Katsenes and others for re-election to the Orland Park village board put out by Kaspar and former Cook County commissioner and former Orland Township committeewoman Elizabeth Doody Gorman.
While the mail piece in question was sent out just before the April 4th consolidated election, Katsenes filed her complaint several months later on July 31, 2023, just hours after Illinois Review broke the story that Mayor Pekau was running his congressional campaign from taxpayer-funded village hall, disclosing campaign fundraising emails to Pekau’s and Katsenes’ official email accounts.
In January, former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign faced potential legal trouble when emails revealed campaign staffers were contacting Chicago Public School teachers and asking them to identify students who could volunteer on the mayor’s re-election campaign.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois immediately raised an alarm – citing a US Supreme Court case, saying the Lightfoot campaign “is inappropriately coercive and raises First Amendment concerns. The Supreme Court has made clear that government officials cannot use their office or power to coerce participation or to punish for lack of participation in political campaigns…”
In other words, Pekau and Katsenes – who oversee village contractors – cannot use their office to persuade people to donate to political campaigns – and in this case, the mayor’s congressional campaign.
Katsenes’ complaint against the IR Publisher alleges claims of deception because Kaspar’s and Gorman’s mail piece was funded by Gorman’s former political committee, Republican Organization of Orland Township, that Gorman presided over for years while serving as the Orland Township committeewoman. On March 3, 2023, Katsenes created a new committee, also called Republican Organization of Orland Township—the same name as the former, but without $7000 in loan obligations due to the former committee by Gorman. In other words, rather than repay her political rival money Gorman had loaned to the committee, Katsenes simply opened a new committee carte blanche.
Pekau, through his close ally Katsenes, is carrying out lawfare tactics we expect of countries like Russia and China. In Russia, President Vladamir Putin signed into law legislation that criminalizes news publications from reporting on anything that contradicts, or is critical of his administration.
In China, a country that leads the world in jailing reporters, there are an estimated 274 journalists currently in prison for reporting on stories that angered the ruling Communist political party – and citizen journalist Zhang Zahn sits in a Chinese prison for her reporting during the pandemic.
Zahn was sentenced to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” because she questioned Chinese officials’ decision-making process during the early stages of the outbreak.
But it is no surprise, because Pekau has a long and well-documented history of attacking his political rivals.
In March, Pekau and another village trustee Sean Kampas were caught harassing female Orland Fire Protection District candidates Angela Greenfield and Tina Zekich and their volunteers as they campaigned and knocked on doors in a local neighborhood just a week before the April elections.
Pekau and Kampas spent the morning following the group in Pekau’s Dodge Durango as they walked a nearby neighborhood to knock on doors and drop off literature.
Although Pekau and Kampas never got out of the car, numerous witnesses said the pair continued to follow the group as they knocked on doors – staring at them through the car windows in a sad attempt at intimidating the group of volunteers who were campaigning on behalf of candidates that they opposed. Greenfield and Zekich would go on to win their elections over Pekau’s preferred candidates.
Pekau also got heat from constituents for attacking Chicago firefighters, calling them an “embarrassment to their profession” a week after the Chicago Fire Department buried two of its own.
In May, it was revealed that Pekau has used a political propaganda website masquerading as legitimate news publications, to control the narrative and ensure positive media coverage – publishing over 70 stories dating back to his 2017 campaign for mayor – and most recently, his failed bid for Congress.
Pekau even lies about crowd sizes. In July, Pekau hosted a free concert that garnered at most 50 attendees at any given time, but days later Pekau had the audacity to declare at a village board meeting that over 2,500 people attended his failed, but free event.
And while Pekau continues to attract incredibly small crowds, with his divisive and abusive behavior on full display, he continues to lay the groundwork to launch yet another congressional campaign.
Although Pekau lacks the temperament to serve in elected office, he has proven, however, to be a better fit as a waiter at Ed Debevic’s, where being rude and a bully is part of the charm.
Perhaps it’s time for Pekau to think about a career change. And we’re not talking about Congress.