An Illinois appeals court recently found a political candidate in Madison County could not be held liable for defamation for statements in a press release finding that the allegedly defamatory statements were privileged and thus immune from liability. Former Madison County IT director, Rob Dorman and former administrator Doug Hulme filed the lawsuit claiming that the press release statements were false and defamatory and ultimately cost them their jobs.
In April 2020, Robert Daiber, the Democrat candidate for county board chairman was identified as one of several local Democratic politicians calling for the dismissal of top officials in Madison county board chairman Kurt Prenzler’s administration. In the press release Daiber was quoted as saying “[a] criminal investigation by six law enforcement agencies has made it clear how extensive corruption and abuses of power are in the Prenzler administration. Madison County must act now to restore public trust by immediately dismissing the Prenzler aides who have committed these truly shocking actions.”
The press release also cited affidavits released from the investigation as providing “conclusive evidence that top aides . . . attempted a pay-for-play scheme by offering a county job to a congressional staff person in exchange for the appointment to a U.S. Attorney position of their political accomplice” and “a scheme to hack into and spy on e-mails of the Madison County judiciary and the offices of elected county officials (neither of which are under the jurisdiction of the County Chairman or County Board) for political purposes.”
Days after the publication of the press release Dorman and Hulme were fired from their positions with the county. Dorman filed suit against Daiber several months later and Hulme joined as a plaintiff shortly thereafter. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the statements in the press release were false and defamatory and that they had been exonerated from any wrongdoing at the conclusion of the investigation and a subsequent probe by the Attorney General. Despite being exonerated, the plaintiffs alleged that the statements in the press release had caused them to lose their jobs. Continue reading ›