Kevin Ake, who was convicted of a felony hate crime in 2001, turned in his signatures last week to run as a Republican for the County Board’s 15th District in the June 28 primary. The 15th District seat is currently held by Kevin Morrison, the first out gay man to hold the seat.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Ake was found guilty of a felony hate crime in 2002 when he made more than 100 harassing phone calls to a lesbian YMCA director who denied him permission to hold a bible study at the facility. He was sentenced to two weeks in jail and two and a half years probation, which he was able to complete early.
The Tribune also said that Ake is the treasurer for the Elk Grove Township Republicans.
Russell Nowak, Elk Grove Township GOP committeeman, told the newspaper that he didn’t know about the conviction and didn’t dig into the past.
“What they did years ago shouldn’t matter,” Nowak said.
Ake told the Tribune he wasn’t sorry for the calls and downplayed the conviction, calling it a persecution.
“I left a bunch of messages on the executive director’s answering machine,” Ake said. “They blew it out of proportion and charged me with the felony hate crime.”
The newspaper reported that the transcripts show him repeatedly berating the director and calling being gay an “abomination.”
“I’m gunna (sic) come after you with all that I have through my heavenly Father,” Ake said, according to court records researched by the Tribune. “… You better watch out … I’m coming. The holy spirit is coming after you.”
Morrison said that hate has no place in the county and the 15th district was a very diverse community.
“At a time where we see legislatures across the nation attacking LGBTQ youth and families, I find it very troubling that an individual convicted of a felony hate crime for harassing a lesbian has no remorse for his actions, and is instead seeking office,” Morrison said when reached for comment. “Voters in our district have made it clear that they support leaders who will fight for an inclusive and welcoming Cook County, and I look forward to earning their vote once again.”
Matt Dietrich, the public information officer for the Illinois Board of Elections, said a felony conviction doesn’t make someone ineligible to be on the ballot.
“If he were to win, however, the state’s attorney would invoke the felony conviction as making him ineligible to assume the county board seat,” he said.
In theory, Dietrich said, a candidate could have their conviction expunged or receive a pardon between filing and assuming office. Then they could hold the office.