(Mar-03) Cary, IL – On Monday, February 27 the Northwest Herald published an article written by reporter Kevin Craver that appeared to be little more than a political hit piece against incumbent Robert “Bob” Miller, popular longtime Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner. Miller was beaten in the Republican primary on Tuesday, by Andrew Gasser, “President” of a group calling itself “Tea Party in Space” and new local favorite of big money shadow PAC operator Dan Proft and extremist former U.S. Representative, Joe Walsh.
Gasser, halfway through his first term on the McHenry County Board, has no discernable experience that qualifies him to run the Algonquin Township Highway Department and was widely thought to be running for the Commissioner seat for the $96,294 salary. It is not yet known if Gasser intends on trying to stay on the McHenry County Board while also serving as Highway Commissioner, which would boost his annual income and benefits to over $132,000.
The article, ‘Algonquin Township commissioner race roiled by video’, features a decade old video wherein a former Algonquin Township Highway Department employee, William Stockwell, and two other men, appear to be discharging weapons at an abandoned vehicle on what was alleged by Gasser to be township property.
Craver, who wrote that the video was made known to the Northwest Herald this past Friday, did not contact Miller or Stockwell prior to writing and publishing the story on Monday and instead relied on a statement that Miller allegedly made in response to Gasser’s claims made on Gasser’s Facebook page for information for the article. Gasser has since deleted Miller’s comments from the page. Craver has since identified Gasser as the person who made him aware of the video on Friday, February 24.
Stockwell came forward publicly on Friday, shortly after Gasser released the video, and acknowledged that he was one of the men featured in the video and challenged Gasser’s recitation of the facts surrounding the video on Gasser’s campaign Facebook page, saying that contrary to Gasser’s claims, the video was not shot on township property and did not depict the use of township equipment. Gasser has since also removed Stockwell’s comments from his campaign Facebook page.
While Craver admittedly did not try to contact Miller for comment for his story, Miller reached out to Craver after the article was published but said that Craver seemed uninterested in his side of the story. Miller told GPI: “He (Craver) didn’t speak to me till after it went up online and it was me that called him. I tried to let him know the facts, but he did not seem interested. “ Craver, claims that he did make minor changes to the article based on his conversation with Miller.
Craver admits that in addition to not contacting Miller, he made no attempt to contact Stockwell, an admitted participant in the video about the facts surrounding the event. Stockwell claims that he also reached out to Craver and that Craver did not return his call.
Under contention is whether the events depicted in the video occurred on township property or not. Gasser claims that the events depicted in the video occurred on township property while Stockwell and Miller state that the events depicted in the video occurred after work hours on private property and that privately owned equipment was used.
Stockwell told GPI by phone that the equipment and property was privately owned at the time and bordered the Hollows conservation area, “When this video was made that property was not owned by Algonquin Township. I remember that day and the cop from the Conservation district came out, inspected the backstop we were using and had no problem with it.”
Given that Craver never reached out to two of the three individuals key to the events discussed in the article for their side of the story before publication, and the fact that the article was not published until the last possible minute before the election with virtually no way for Miller to get his side of the story out to the voting public before the election, the Northwest Herald’s timing seems, at best, suspect.
In an interview Thursday morning Craver stated that while he was sent the video by Gasser on Friday the 24, the paper did not run the article until Monday, the day before the election, because he did not have time to authenticate the video. Craver, while acknowledging that he did not simply reach out to Miller before publishing the article, stated that is was only after Miller reacted to Gasser’s claims about the video on Facebook on Monday that he felt that he had the authentication needed to run the story.
Gasser won the election, beating Miller in the race for Highway Commissioner by 145 votes. There is no Democratic candidate running for Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner in the Consolidated Election on April 4.