Hinsdale D86 board member Kevin Camden threatens vet’s business over “Vote No” signs; police report filed against him
A Darien Police report has been filed against Hinsdale D86 School Board Vice President Kevin Camden over a harassing call he made to the relative of a business owner who has “Vote No” referendum opposition signs in his yard.
The relative, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions against the family and the business, posted a recounting of the call on Facebook.
“He [Camden] stated that he would never recommend … because of the signs in the yard,” the Facebook post said. “I calmly explained to him the ‘Vote No’ position, and the inequities between Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South and he agreed with some of my points. I also stated how shameful it was of him to threaten a local Veteran-Owned [two tours of duty in Iraq as a paratrooper] business over a school referendum.”
The Darien Police were called.
“The officer asked him if he understood how what he said to me could be construed as a threat,” a follow-up post said. “Mr. Camden disagreed. They went back and forth a bit and the officer also said that it wasn’t a ‘good look’ for a school board member to be getting police reports filed for harassment. Mr. Camden actually told the officer that he didn’t expect anyone to answer the phone on a Sunday morning. HA, coward! A police report has been filed.”
Camden, a 41-year-old union lawyer from Willowbrook who represents Teamsters Local 700 in Chicago and over 11,000 public sector employees, did not return a call seeking comment.
Former Hinsdale School Board President Dr. Richard Skoda told the DuPage Policy Journal that when he was on the board, “the board was told by the school attorney that school board members cannot publicly advocate in their official capacity or individual capacity against or for any propositions on the school ballot.”
“Law [Superintendent Bruce Law] and friends with their mailings are walking the edge,” Skoda, who was school board president from 2014 to 2015, wrote in an email. “Camden fell off.
"District 86 has sent out at least five mass mailings at taxpayer expense advocating for the need for a referendum such as JFK's picture and saying ‘we haven't had a referendum since 1962,’" Skoda added. "Additionally, they called themselves ‘Fix It 86’ and use similar colors as the Yes campaign. I know countless citizens who think these were yes fliers. The taxpayer fliers do everything but use the word YES. IMO they have crossed the legal line of campaigning."
The Illinois Council of School Attorneys recognizes that school officials and employees want to support school district referenda. But the council advises school board officials that there are strict limits in what they can say and do.
“Two laws significantly limit the scope of referendum-related activity in which school officials and school employees may engage: the Election Code’s interference prohibition (10 ILCS 5/9-25.1) and the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (5 ILCS 430/).2,” the council notes.
“The Election Code’s interference prohibition bars the expenditure of public funds to advocate votes for or against a referendum permits use of public funds to disseminate factual data.”
“The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (Ethics Act) prohibits State employees and officials from engaging in certain political activities," the council notes. "It also requires local government units including school boards to adopt an ordinance or policy ‘no less restrictive’ than the Act’s provisions. This means that the Ethics Act’s prohibitions apply to board members and employees, including its ban on engaging in political activity in certain situations.”
Camden’s harassing phone call is the latest incident of referendum supporters resorting to bullying and even threats of physical violence against those who oppose the tax increase. Tomorrow’s vote is the third try in two years by the district to get a referendum passed.