Man who lost 2016 primary files defamation suit against Illinois house speaker

CHICAGO, Aug. 8 (UPI) — A candidate who failed to unseat Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in this year’s Democratic primary has filed a defamation lawsuit against the legislative leader, claiming he lost the race because of untrue disparaging remarks that were made during the race.

Political newcomer Jason Gonzales filed the complaint on Friday, which alleges that Madigan defamed him during the race with information that was illegally obtained.

Several of Madigan’s supporters were also listed as defendants in the suit.

Gonzales lost the Democratic primary earlier this year — winning 27 percent of the vote, compared to 65 percent for the 19-year speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

The suit says Madigan told voters that Gonzales was a convicted felon, despite the fact that he has been pardoned by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn for alleged violations he committed as a teenager.

Gonzales claims that his First, 14th and 15th amendment rights were violated — and that Madigan violated state defamation laws, as well as statutes barring criminal history disclosure and conspiracy to prevent voting.

Madigan’s office has denied the accusations, saying, “Jason Gonzales cannot be trusted and his lawsuit is without merit.”

“According to Gonzales’ own court filing today, his criminal activity ‘resulted in several arrests, criminal charges, and felony misdemeanor convictions,'” Madigan’s statement said. “Further, in an interview with FOX 32 News political editor Mike Flannery on March 4, 2016, Gonzales admitted to being a convicted felon.

“Additionally, many times during the campaign, Gonzales made statements about his criminal past,” it added.

Others named in the lawsuit are Friends of Michael J. Madigan, the 13th Ward Democratic Organizations, Prisoner Review Board, Madigan aide Shaw Decremer, state Rep. Silvana Tabares, journalist Ray Hanania and fellow candidates Joe Barbosa and Grasiela Rodriguez.

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