Calumet City, IL. (ECWd) -
UPDATE 12-19-2021: The complained of published piece referenced in this article was taken down by Kitty Lampe this afternoon.
Today, Kitty Kurth, of Kurth Lampe Worldwide, published a piece on prlog.org which is full of blatant lies, the extent of which we have rarely seen, and is unbecoming of an honest public relations firm. This is not the first time this group has published false information about us (both dealing with Calumet City issues).
The original published "article" said it was "by Nyota Figgs" (the Calumet City Clerk) - she told us she did not write it. Now it says "by Kurth Lampe Worldwide." Why would this firm publish something under someone else's name, do they always do that?
Here they are:
- Kurth: "Officials in Calumet City were tipped off months ago that the moves that Benford and Jones are making are strikingly similar to moves that Benford and colleagues with the "Edgar County Watchdogs" group have made in other municipalities"
We are not "colleagues" with Benford and have never made any "moves" with Benford in other municipalities. We did join one lawsuit filed for violations of the Open Meetings Act in DuPage Township, who later admitted in writing that it was an illegal meeting.
- Kurth: "Their modus operandi seems to be to tie up municipalities in court and make money from the legal fees. Jones and Calumet City are just their latest pawn and playground."
We have never "tied up municipalities in court" nor "made money from the legal fees." We have never used Calumet City for anything, and certainly not for a pawn or a playground.
- Kurth: "Reporters should examine the situations that Benford and the Edgar County Watchdogs have been involved in other locations in Illinois. The pattern of behavior is reported to be that Benford comes in to do her audit and certain files go "missing".
What "pattern of behavior" and what involvement in other locations in Illinois? What files have gone "missing" that Benford has worked on? We would love to know, as that would be an excellent article for us to write about how an auditor makes files go "missing" - the fact is, it never happened.
- Kurth: "In other cases, Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) then file FOIA requests for the disappeared documents which the unit of government can't comply with for obvious reasons."
Please show any FOIA requests we have filed for "disappeared documents" - it never happened. Besides, if a public body does not have a specific record, that is a legitimate reason for them to not provide it when requested under FOIA, and an affirmative defense in a lawsuit.
- Kurth: "ECW then sues the unit of government and everyone gets a nice pay day."
Flat out lie - especially in the context it is presented to the public. Yes, we sue units of government for public records when they wrongly withhold them. As far as "everyone gets a nice payday" - we have no idea what you are talking about. The only "paydays" go to the attorneys, which is what the Legislature intended when they amended the Freedom of Information Act to mandate attorney fees.
- Kurth: "Amazingly, things are playing out exactly this way in Calumet City as they have in municipalities where Benford has previously been engaged."
False. Name the other municipalities and produce any records to prove your statement.
Ms. Kurth, any honest person would refrain from publishing such fabricated and unsubstantiated nonsense.
We suggest you reevaluate your sense of decency and retract the above statements and issue an apology. You should also send that retraction and apology to everyone on the email list who receive the originally published lies.
People are smart enough to know what is going on, and people know that office is in the midst of a forensic audit - some, or maybe most, of which occurred prior to the current clerk taking office. You do yourself no good and impugned your own integrity by publishing these falsehoods.
The more you lie about some things, the less chance people will believe you when you do tell the truth.
We thought you were better than that.