Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it. – Agatha Christie
The photograph adjoining this column is the specific reason I threatened to resign from Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser’s campaign back in 2020. As her campaign manager, I repeatedly warned her that state’s attorney, sheriff, and judicial candidates can’t afford to have political friends, and they certainly shouldn’t be bestowing or accepting endorsements.
My theory was you never know when you’re going to have to prosecute them, but even if you don’t, do you really want to deal with their “baggage” when they inevitably misbehave?”
She generally wouldn’t listen, but that photo with now-state rep Matt Hanson was the final straw. I’d run Kane County board member Ron Ford’s campaign in a tough seven-vote victory against Hanson and I knew exactly what kind of arrogant self-important bully he was. I also suspected his increasingly erratic and aggressive behavior was alcohol fueled.
To her credit, Mosser relented, but as we’re about to discuss, the damage was already done.
Fast forward to October 27 when, suspicious of a car sprawled across two spaces with its taillights on, a Montgomery police officer found Hanson slumped over the steering wheel in his apartment parking lot with his dog in the car. The officer said it was difficult to rouse Hanson, and when he finally did, he was generally incoherent and unaware of where he was or what was happening.
The beyond inebriated state rep proceeded to blow a 0.186, well over twice the legal limit. After Hanson took the dog back to the apartment, he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor DUI posting his driver’s license as bond.
Whenever a Kane County law enforcement officer arrests someone on a misdemeanor charge, they check a box at the top of the ticket indicating whether it’s a state or municipal charge. Though it’s not necessarily the final word, in this case he checked off “state.”
But that possibility lasted about as long as a Trump gag order because state’s attorney Mosser swiftly recused herself due to her obvious relationship with the defendant. So now, instead of facing the full weight of “The People,” Hanson will be prosecuted by Montgomery village prosecutor Peter Buh.
I have nothing against attorney Buh, but you already know how I feel about defense attorneys playing local prosecutors in their spare time. Because when he isn’t prosecuting DUI defendants for Montgomery, he and law partner Keri Johnson’s website boldly ask potential clients to “Let us fight to get you back on the road.”
That’s gotta be a great gig! Get their license revoked in Montgomery and put ‘em back on the road as a defense attorney. It almost makes me nostalgic for Mike Madigan’s property tax shenanigans.
Considering the high-profile and incestuous nature of this case, Mosser should’ve referred it directly to the Attorney General’s office to avoid any perceived conflict. It’s a flippin’ no-brainer. But that’s not what you do when the case involves a good friend, right?
Our state’s attorney clearly continues to struggle with the notion of the “appearance of impropriety,” and she can’t seem to get over her obsessive need to have everyone like her, either.
And that’s a problem for any county prime prosecutor.
To be fair, local prosecutors are frequently far tougher on first-time DUI defendants because the entire basis for their existence is to make money for those municipalities. If The State prosecutes these folks, they barely get a cut of the hefty fines. That’s another reason I don’t like this setup. Given that profiteering dynamic and Hanson’s political status, he’ll likely end up paying through the nose.
(We’ll delve more deeply into Mr. Buh’s massive conflict of interest in an upcoming piece.)
But even if that’s the harsher penal case, the AG should proceed with this one for all of the obvious reasons, not the least of which is Mosser claims to be tough on drunk drivers. But despite her Facebook “I’m tough on drunk drivers” pronouncements, the evidence would indicate that she’s anything but – if you’re a friend or you work for her, that is.
Meanwhile, Hanson issued the following statement after his arrest:
I’m committed to ensuring this is the only time I ever exercise such poor judgment. I plan to undergo an alcohol evaluation, complete any treatment or education that evaluation recommends, and accept all terms the court deems fit. My focus is on the work I need to do for myself and for the people who have entrusted me to represent them.
“The only time?” Right! A judge who’s presided over hundreds of DUI cases told me that, with some celebratory exceptions, they consider that, for every time a drunk driver is arrested, they’ve gotten away with it at least ten other times.
Do you know what it takes for a 180 lb. man to blow a 0.186? According to various Net sources, they have to do 9.5 shots in an hour, or 11.5 in two hours. That’s probably a bit overblown, but I can drink, and if I drank just 7 shots of scotch in an hour, I’d be dead.
A political friend aptly noted, “The man was on a mission,” and the fact he could actually make it home from wherever he was that intoxicated without killing someone means this ain’t nearly his first time.
As someone who grew up with some of the most accomplished alcoholics on the planet, I’ll save the state rep the time and expense of an alcohol evaluation. Matt! You are clearly an alcoholic and the last drink you had that night should be the last drink you ever have. You could’ve easily killed yourself, your poor dog, and/or some innocent driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For those reasons, and the fact that Hanson would demand the resignation of any Republican legislator who “betrayed the public trust” in this heinous a manner, I’m calling on the state rep to resign and focus on getting his addiction under control. Being a Springfield legislator is fraught with the kind of stressful peril that will only lead to more coping with alcohol.
Not only that, but he’s completely abrogated his capacity to govern by falling far short of any reasonable standard. And I promise I won’t let the voters forget about it.
This is the perfect lesson for all potential state’s attorney/sheriff/judicial candidates who still don’t understand that these law enforcement elected officials MUST remain above the fray. And the appearance of impropriety is almost ALWAYS worse than any actual impropriety.
As for any other potential Kane County DUI defendants, my advice would be to take a selfie with state’s attorney Mosser prior to hitting the bars. History indicates that she’d be happy to do it. That way, if you get pulled over for a DUI, you can claim that you’re a “friend of Jamie” and she’ll give you a much better deal.
It’s what she does.