By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Adams County Treasurer Terry Asher said a television advertisement aired by Sen. John Sullivan’s re-election campaign is “a misrepresentation at best … and at worst it’s lying.”
Sullivan responded early Tuesday night to say that he will change the ad after what he considers new information from Asher.
The 30-second ad that began airing Monday says that Randy Frese, the Republican challenger in Sullivan’s 47th Senate District, has been late with property tax payments 20 times. The source cited is the Adams County treasurer’s office.
“This is a false account of Mr. Frese’s tax payment records,” Asher said.
Asher said he was contacted by Elizabeth Balderas of the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund several times, and he responded to two Freedom of Information Act requests. Balderas was given copies of tax records on two properties owned by Frese from the 1992 to 2010 tax years, and for one property involving the tax years 1987 to 1991.
“Upon researching the tax records, I discovered that Mr. Frese paid all real estate property taxes for both properties on or before the due dates except for the second installment payment of the 1995 tax year. For this tax year, his second installment payments were late by one or two days and included $56.46 in late payment interest,” Asher said.
Rikeesha Phelon, the spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the Democratic Victory Fund initially stood behind the ad.
“Based on records obtained from the treasurer’s office and using the date calculation, it appears that Frese was late 20 times,” Phelon said.
Asher shared copies of all records that went to Balderas, including his own confirmation that Frese was only subject to penalties on two properties one time.
“All payments were made on time except for the 1995 tax year” second installment, Asher wrote.
Phelon said the collection dates on many of the tax bills were dated “later than July 1 and September 1.”
Asher said those were not the installment dates every year, due to a state law that requires that taxpayers get at least 30 days notice before the first tax collection date. Some multi-county issues, such as the taxes for John Wood Community College, prevent Adams County from knowing all tax information until it is too late to allow a July 1 installment date, Asher said.
Newspaper records from previous years confirm that installment dates were not consistent and may have led Balderas to wrongly assume that late payments were made.
Sullivan learned of Asher’s comments Tuesday afternoon and later said he would take down the ad.
“Based on new information from the Republican treasurer, I will alter that ad,” Sullivan said.
Frese campaign director Kimber Beckler had called for the Sullivan campaign to take down the ad.
“We appreciate that Mr. Asher is coming forward. It’s obviously false information,” she said.