by Mick Dumke
The League of Women Voters of Chicago was one of several sponsors of last week’s often-hostile debate between 46th Ward alderman Helen Shiller and challenger James Cappleman. Before the event began, one of the League’s moderators announced that supporters of both candidates had to remove all campaign buttons and signs in order to stay, and that neither side would be allowed to use video or audio recordings of any portion of the event for campaign purposes.
Soon after the debate, however, several video clips of Shiller were posted on her Web site, and Cappleman’s team raised a stink. On Thursday a member of the Cappleman campaign emailed me a link to a statement [pdf] from the League, issued the day before, criticizing Shiller: “Displaying this video is a direct violation of the League’s debate rules. The League has made repeated calls to the Shiller campaign headquarters to request the video be removed from their site. The League has also received dozens of calls, e-mails, and faxes from 46th Ward residents expressing their anger that the Shiller campaign site is displaying this video. The League is disappointed that our forum rules were disregarded by the Shiller Campaign and is requesting that the debate video be removed from their website immediately.
“The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization whose purpose is to encourage informed citizen participation in government.”
Cappleman's aide also sent me a statement from him calling Shiller’s decision to post the video “one more example of the lack of integrity she has displayed during her 20 years in office.”Shiller supporters, though, believe the “dozens of calls, e-mails, and faxes from 46th Ward residents” were organized by their opponent. My call to Shiller’s office was returned by her son, Brendan, the precinct coordinator for the campaign. “We’re sorry the League of Women Voters is being bullied by the Cappleman campaign into making a story where there is none,” he said. “We always said we were going to videotape the debate so they wouldn’t lie about what Helen Shiller said, which is what that campaign has a tendency to do.”