Metro-East News

Union leader tells crowd to play ‘East St. Louis rules ... vote early, vote often’

A local union leader made a comment about “voting often,” presumably in jest, that has Republicans saying he was encouraging voter fraud.

Charles “Totsie” Bailey, who is the business manager for the Steamfitters Local 439, was speaking at a labor union meet and greet on Saturday in Caseyville, prior to various Democratic candidates spoke to the crowd.

Bailey said to the crowd that J.B. Pritzker, who was in attendance, is a great candidate for governor.

“He won’t win if we do not get out and vote. You need to early vote, like I say, we can play East St. Louis rules..., vote early, vote often, whatever you can get away with,” Bailey said to a crowd that began laughing. “I shouldn’t say that, but I really don’t care.”

Bailey did not immediately return a phone call for comment Tuesday.

Among those in attendance of the candidate meet and greet was state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who is running for Congress in the 12th Congressional District, state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey.

The event also had people running for judge as well as county-wide offices in both St. Clair and Madison County.

The Illinois Republican Party said the matter should be referred to the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

“This is yet another example of the corrupt and unethical behavior celebrated within the Illinois Democratic Party and Brendan Kelly’s campaign,” said Travis Sterling, a spokesman for the Illinois GOP. “Voter fraud is nothing to joke about. It is despicable that Brendan Kelly, the person within the county most entrusted with the responsibility to defend our democracy against this fraud, would stand by while such crime is encouraged by one of his key supporters.”

Kelly said he was not initially aware of the comments at the event.

“I did not hear the remark, but as a state’s attorney who’s prosecuted more state election charges than any prosecutor in southern Illinois and sent people to prison for it, let me take this opportunity to remind the public they can report election misconduct to the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force Tip Line at 618-589-7353,” Kelly said in a statement to the media.

Pritzker’s campaign in a statement, encouraged people who are eligible to vote.

“Voting is no joking matter, particularly in an election with so much at stake. Illinois can’t afford another four years of failure from Bruce Rauner and JB is proud to be running on real plans to get Illinois back on track,” said Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for the Pritzker campaign. “Whether during early voting starting September 27th or on Election Day, J.B. encourages all Illinoisans, who are able, to exercise their right to vote.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter
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