Homeless man gathered thousands of signatures for both men
By TIM NOVAK and ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporters / firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Rev. James Meeks (top left) and Rob Halpin (bottom) submitted petitions gathered by a homeless man who gave his address on those petitions as a government-subsidized warming center for the homeless in Uptown.
The same homeless man was used to gather thousands of signatures to help two supposedly rival mayoral hopefuls - state Sen. James Meeks and Rob Halpin, who continues to be a burr in the side of his landlord, Rahm Emanuel, yet another mayoral candidate.
Despite that, Meeks said Monday there isn't any coordinated effort between his campaign and Halpin's to defeat Emanuel.
"I don't know Rob Halpin," Meeks said in an interview. "I don't know the homeless person" who gathered signatures for his and Halpin's campaigns.
Meeks' attorney, Burt Odelson, filed a lawsuit last week arguing that Emanuel shouldn't be allowed to run for mayor because Emanuel leased his home to Halpin when he went to work for President Obama and hasn't lived in Chicago for the past year, as the law requires to run for mayor.
Halpin, who's never sought public office before, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
He and Meeks both filed their nominating petitions with the Chicago Board of Elections on Nov. 22 - the last day to file.
In an unusual move, both Halpin and Meeks submitted petitions gathered by the same person - Arthur J. Hardy Jr., a homeless man who gave his address on those petitions as a government-subsidized warming center for the homeless at 4615 N. Clifton in Uptown.
Hardy hasn't been seen there since before Thanksgiving, according to Andre Caldwell, a manager for Cornerstone Community Outreach, which runs the warming center.
Hardy collected 3,160 signatures for Meeks, about 6 percent of Meeks' total, and 3,990 for Halpin, about 22 percent of the signatures Halpin turned in to secure a spot on the February mayoral ballot.
Odelson said the Meeks campaign, like the Halpin campaign, hired people to circulate petitions and that it shouldn't be a surprise that some of those circulators might also be working for more than one campaign and that it didn't signify any link between the two campaigns.
"There are some people out there who are for sale," Odelson said. "This guy probably circulated for other campaigns besides Meeks and Halpin."
Meeks acknowledged that he used some paid circulators but said most of his signatures were gathered by volunteers.
Odelson said he suspects that Halpin, being a political novice, had to rely on paid circulators for a greater percentage of his signatures than Meeks did.
Odelson said he inspected Meeks' petitions to make sure they would withstand any legal challenge.
Odelson also said he has interviewed Halpin, who will be a witness in Odelson's court case trying to get Emanuel thrown off the ballot.
Emanuel has maintained that he has continued to be a legal resident of Chicago. He found another place to live when Halpin wouldn't move.