Monday, March 16, 2020

Guest Post: Bonnie McGrath responds to Injustice Watch story on shills

Ed. note: If you've not been keeping up with this story, you may find what follows a bit confusing. So let me give you the background as quickly and succinctly as I can.

All this started with a post on Injustice Watch (co-published in the Sun-Times) entitled Sham candidates for judge: an election secret you’re not supposed to know about.

I offered a critique of the story in a post entitled, About that shill story on Injustice Watch....

The other day, I followed up with another post, Wait... I thought shills weren't supposed to have lawn signs....

On that last post, Saturday, I received and published a long comment, addressing the original Injustice Watch story, that was purportedly sent by Appellate Court candidate Maureen Patricia O'Leary. I can't vouch for the authenticity of the comment, and I don't, though it certainly rings true. You can read it for yourself.

I can confirm that the following is from Circuit Court candidate Bonnie McGrath, who asked me to run this -- which I do herewith.

I want to echo Ms. O'Leary's indignation---since the Injustice Watch story centered on both of us and was definitely filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and a mean-spirited tone that was uncalled for in any professional law-oriented publication.

One thing that really got my goat was the accusation that I'm not attending campaign events--by choice. I got invited to exactly two campaign events this election. The IVI-IPO candidates night, which I attended and mingled at--and brought my brother to, who also happens to be my campaign treasurer. And the Community Renewal Society invited me to their "meet the judicial candidates" nights, which I did not attend because the invite came after the events (most likely the fault of the post office and not the society).

I have, however, spent lots of time in the community, mingling with lots of friends, colleagues and strangers, all of whom I ask to vote for me! And I've spent many hours on social media doing the same. In fact, I put a picture of one of my window signs (in a window) on Jack's posting of this story on Twitter.

Another ire-inspiring thing the writer did in the story was to make a point of gratuitously mentioning that I was married to the late Paul McGrath, implying that after our marriage, I took his name and my "nickname" Bonnie--instead of my given name Benita. The implication was so I'd have a good ballot name--presumably to use as a shill.


My name has been Bonnie since the day after I was born. The name on my birth certificate is Benita, and was in honor of my paternal grandfather, Ben. But since Day One of my life, my parents and everyone else called me Bonnie. And I married Paul McGrath 10 years before I even went to law school!

True, I don't have a campaign website, as he pointed out---as a sort of crime. But I find them a little disingenuous and filled with meaningless platitudes. That is not for me. I have blogged for years. Hundreds of posts are out there. And I have had regular columns in the Law Bulletin, Illinois Bar Journal and the Chicago Tribune. I have also written regularly for years for the Chicago Bar Record (CBA), Chicago Reader and many, many other publications. I have won 25 major journalism awards (including three for legal writing from the CBA), and I have also been awarded "one of the 20 best [blog] posts of the month" by the Chicago Tribune 28 times. I have participated heavily on social media, particularly Facebook. And anything at all that anyone wants to know about me is out there. Tons. And tons. Of stuff.

Like me, or don't like me, want me for judge or not, it's all there. And it's pretty darn easy to decide yay or nay if you look into who I really am. Injustice Watch has no interest in knowing, though. I really don't think they have any interest in any candidate's true self, aside from compliance with shopworn stereotypes that have persisted for decades--and that are comfortable for them--and which require no critical thought whatsoever.

"I am running for judge to become a judge!" is what I told the writer in an email. (My sixth try since 1998.) He got that quote right. I am NOT in this to "confuse voters," as the writer said. The only other quote he used in the story was also emailed, but--amazingly!--he misquoted me. So much for putting my answers in writing. Or having anything whatsoever to do with Injustice Watch. THEY confuse voters!

It's true that I have chosen in recent years to no longer participate in the bar association ratings process, although i did in the past. And, as Jack pointed out in a recent piece, I have written 5,000 words about why I no longer do so:

I have one endorsement, and here are summaries of my background that appeared not only on this blog, in response to Jack's invitation to all candidates to submit something about themselves; but also in response to the Law Bulletin's invitation to do the same:

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