The Illinois Libertarian Party is settling into campaign mode after winning its battle to get on the November ballot. But the Libertarians have filed criminal complaints against the Republican Party for the trouble it took to get them there.
In June, the Libertarians submitted well over the minimum 25,000 signatures of registered voters required of third parties to get on the ballot. But soon after, party officials began to hear back from petition circulators: Armed private investigators had been showing up to the homes of those who signed petitions, asking them to sign affidavits stating that their original signature had been fraudulently collected.
Those private investigators were hired by a lawyer for the Illinois GOP, a man named John Fogarty.
But the Libertarians' field organizer, Brian Lamprecht, says his party is suspicious of the Republicans' candidate for governor: Bruce Rauner.
Rauner has publicly said he didn't know about the armed investigators, saying he was "outraged" to hear about the GOP's tactics.
"I'm appalled by the behavior I've read about," Rauner said at a media availability in Chicago last week. "I absolutely reject it and would never condone it. It's terrible."
But Lamprecht says his party isn't necessarily buying that defense.
"It's ridiculous because it says one of two things," he said. "If he did know about it, then he's a scoundrel. He was part of this. But if he didn't know about it, well then it shows that he's inept and he doesn't know what's going on within his own campaign."
Lamprecht says his party is worried the GOP's tactics could deter voters from political participation in the future.
"When people look in the news and they see that armed private investigators are showing up at their doors, and people are being intimidated into signing affidavits, that's a scary thing to happen to citizens anywhere," he said.
The Libertarians filed criminal complaints last week with the Illinois Attorney General and the Cook County State's Attorney. The complaints are against both the state's Republican Party and the Rauner campaign.
Lamprecht says despite the candidate's claim of innocence, he feels Rauner owes Libertarians an apology.
Signature challenges are common for third parties, as they can take away votes from established parties, especially dangerous for Republicans and Democrats in close races. A Democratic challenge successfully knocked the Green Party off the ballot.