O'FALLON — St. Clair County Associate Judge Laninya Cason on Monday called on congressional candidate Bill Enyart to apologize for what Cason has described as shoving her aside as she was trying to hand her campaign flyer to a woman at the O'Fallon Homecoming parade.
"I know what happened Saturday, the witnesses know what happened Saturday, and Bill Enyart knows what happened Saturday," Cason told a gathering of about 40 supporters and media members outside the O'Fallon Police Department.
Jason Bresler, campaign manager for Enyart, said Saturday the two accidentally bumped together and that Enyart immediately apologized. Cason said he didn't.
"He did apologize immediately when he accidentally bumped into her, as witnesses have attested," Bresler said Monday. "This is political campaign silly season."
Immediately after the press conference, Cason was a guest on the Dana Show, a radio broadcast emanating from St. Louis that is heard on KFTK, 97.1. Cason told conservative host Dana Loesch that if Enyart will make a "proper" apology, she is willing to drop her efforts to have him charged.
"I don't want him to have a criminal record," she said, "but I won't be bullied."
Cason and Republican precinct committeeman Carlous Huston of Belleville, who said he witnessed the event, told O'Fallon police that Enyart came up behind Cason during the parade, made a comment that she was wearing a sweatshirt for his opponent, Republican Jason Plummer, and pushed her left upper arm, forcing her to the side. He then handed his campaign flyer to the same person to whom Cason was attempting to hand her flyer.
"I have been bullied and pushed around by the St. Clair Democrat Machine before," Cason said, "but it's never gotten physical. Enyart took it too far."
Cason is a Republican candidate for circuit judge in the Nov. 6 general election. She faces fellow Associate Judge Zina Cruse, a Democrat. Cason, formerly a Democrat, was passed over by her own party for the circuit judge spot and then joined the Republicans.
Enyart, a Democrat, is a retired two-star Army general and former head of the Illinois National Guard. He is running against Plummer in the contest for the 12th District House seat.
Capt. Mark Berry of the O'Fallon Police Department said an investigation is under way and should be completed this week and will then be presented to St. Clair County Brendan Kelly for review. Kelly said he cannot comment because, "I haven't seen anything."
As of 11:30 a.m. today, police had yet to interview Enyart, his spokesman Bresler said.
The Plummer campaign declined to comment.
Huston, the precinct committeeman, said he told police essentially the same story as did Cason. Huston and Cason also said that after the contact, Enyart's son held up one of his father's campaign posters and "danced around" Cason as she continued to walk in the parade.
As for Cason wearing a Plummer sweatshirt, Cason said only wore it because she was cold and asked a Plummer supporter if she could wear one temporarily.
The Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct urges judges not to get involved in politics beyond handing out their own political literature and speaking about their own campaign.
However, Cason can be seen in a photo on her website standing with Jon McLean, a Republican candidate for St. Clair County Board chairman and the county GOP chairman, and Plummer.
Asked whether such a public association with political candidates might violate the judicial ethics code, Cason said, "No. Absolutely not. We are running on the same ticket. So we can support each other.
Cason has filed a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Board alleging that Cruze, her opponent in the election, improperly hears divorce cases where her campaign manager is one of the attorneys. The Cruse campaign has stated that she has not made any ethical violations by hearing these cases.
The state Judicial Ethics Board recommends that judges running for office divest themselves of all cases where their campaign managers represent of the litigants.