Some people have to learn the hard way, let them. — Anonymous
You’d think the prospect of watching Fox News lose an $800 million lawsuit to Dominion Voting Systems over bogus election claims would’ve struck fear into the hearts of those mentally challenged election deniers everywhere. But it didn’t, because when Forest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does,” he really meant it.
To wit, a former Republican Will County clerk candidate may not have to cough up nearly a billion dollars, but $35,000 in court sanctions ain’t nuthin’ to sneeze at, either. That recent revelation may well make this my favorite case of schadenfreude, but let’s start at the beginning because that’s always the best place to start.
In our February 9th column we covered Gretchen Fritz’ bizarre lawsuit thusly:
In a move straight out of Ripley’s Believe it or not, failed Republican Will County Clerk candidate Gretchen Fritz filed a December 28, 2022, lawsuit claiming “mistakes and fraud have been committed in the casting and counting of ballots” in the 2022 clerk’s race. Why? Because her Democratic opponent, incumbent Lauren Staley Ferry, got more votes than gubernatorial candidate J. B. Pritzker.
Oh, my freakin’ lord! Really? I’d be willing to bet that Ms. Fritz believes in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Great Pumpkin, too.
In what can only be described as a magnificent effort to prove that truth is far stranger than fiction, Fritz insists that Pritzker receiving 4,358 fewer votes that Staley Ferry is a clear indication that fraudulent “algorithms” were applied to the final vote count. According to her lawsuit:
“It appeared quite unusual that a candidate for Will County Clerk, listed at least eight offices below the office with the most media coverage and largest political spending in the state, would receive more votes than the gubernatorial candidate of her party.”
Yes! And I firmly believe that, since I’ve slapped one fewer comedian than Will Smith but still haven’t won an Oscar, the Academy has it in for me. Maybe I should look into hiring Ms. Fritz’ attorney, who clearly doesn’t take cases based on their merit.
Rational people will tell you those totals are the result of voters “splitting the ticket,” a practice which is becoming increasingly common with every even year election.
The best part of Fritz’ pleading were the endless pages of numeric hieroglyphics provided by a lunatic Texas A&M MAGA mathematician that were supposed to be hard evidence of those scurrilous “algorithms.” You can see them for yourself here and here.
Thankfully, 12th Circuit Judge John Anderson would have none of it by dismissing the lawsuit in its entirety on March 30. He accurately ruled that the case “is in sum and substance, an attack on the legitimacy and security of our elections,” adding:
Setting aside the electorate’s voice in the County Clerk’s race based on how many votes someone else got in some other race, and based on mathematical probability analyses would disenfranchise all voters who voted and who did nothing wrong in exercising their right to vote.
Not one to mince words, Will County clerk Lauren Staley Ferry’s attorney, Burt Odelson, applied his keep perception of the obvious when he described their court victory as “A big win for democracy, the rule of law, and rational thought.”
But that wasn’t nearly the best part, no! Because, on June 27, Judge Anderson socked Fritz and her shameless nitwit attorney, David Shestokas, with a sobering $35,000 in court sanctions. All I can say is, if I was gay and single, I’d be proposing to His Honor as we speak. In his stinging rebuke, Anderson wrote:
(Illinois Supreme Court) Rule 137 serves as a barricade against truly frivolous litigation; it is not as a penalty against unsuccessful litigants.
…her supporting factual allegations are as vague as they are outrageous.
In short, Ms. Fritz and her counsel violated Rule 137 by filing an election contest petition that was not well grounded in fact, and was not predicated on a reasonable factual inquiry. The Court finds that sanctions are proper.
Odelson added, “It will be a deterrent so that these fake election lawsuits don’t get filed,” which only goes to show that he has far more faith in humanity than I do. Ah well. I suppose we all have our tragic flaws. The Dominion lawsuit certainly didn’t deter Fritz and if that one didn’t put her on notice…
Better yet, while sanctions are typically levied against the attorney(s) involved, Anderson ruled that, since Fritz herself verified the pleading and met with the MAGA mathematician herself to discuss the “algorithm,” she should pay part of that penalty as well. That means Odelson can go after either or both parties to collect that 35 grand, and hitting each of them with a $17,500 bill would certainly make a great point.
Odelson further explained the case is appealed, they will have to pay those fees, too. And just to prove my post-COVID humanity generally sucks point, Shestokas, who should be disbarred, said that’s exactly what he’s gonna do.
Sigh! You can lead a human being to the truth, but you can’t make them think. But that won’t stop me from taking a great deal of solace in the fact that, at least this time, telling an outright lie in court turned out to be a very expensive proposition.
But here’s the really crazy part as stipulated in the first column covering this farce:
The real irony is Fritz got 47.4 percent of the vote which ain’t bad against an incumbent on a night Democrats did far better than anyone expected. And she managed to come that close despite an absurd campaign insistence on Will County going back to paper ballots. So, Fritz might’ve had a real shot in 2026, but that possibility went right out the second-floor window with this frivolous lawsuit.
To sum it up, this is a too-rare post-COVID case where truth, justice, and the American way prevailed. I wouldn’t count on it, but perhaps Mr. Odelson is right and those sanctions will finally put a dent in that election denier dynamic. And Judge John Anderson may have just supplanted 16th Circuit Judge Elizabeth Flood as my new favorite jurist (You’re going to have to up your game a little bit Elizabeth!).
Now it’s time to legally go after those nitwit Campton Hills deniers.