After reading Marty Kovarik's sworn statement for the Jim Oberweis campaign last week, I came to the conclusion that his story has more holes in it than Dick Cheney's hunting buddy. Kovarik was Judy Baar Topinka's deputy treasurer in 1995. He was her Senate office chief of staff for several years before that.

Kovarik approached the Oberweis campaign a couple weeks ago with a long story about alleged corruption in Topinka's office. The Oberweis campaign took a sworn statement from him.

Oberweis is now trumpeting Kovarik's statement as "vindication" of one of his TV attack ads. Tying your credibility to someone else is always risky, but doing so without first vetting that person's story is reckless to the point of insanity. Let's hit the high points:

· Kovarik's claim about who ordered the shredding of a hotel-loan-related document is in serious question.

Kovarik claims Topinka ordered the shredding when her spokesperson Jim Howard called Topinka's home. Howard claimed years ago that he told Kovarik about how the document had been discovered while he was in Kovarik's office and claimed that Kovarik immediately ordered it shredded.

Kovarik told the State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg that he ordered the document shredded. But he said in his sworn statement that he would never shred a state document.

In any case, the document was never shredded. Topinka released it to the media.

· Kovarik claims in his statement that he wasn't in on that controversial 1995 hotel-loan deal with Republican fundraiser Bill Cellini's business partners.

"I was not in on any part of the deal except that I knew what had happened at the end," Kovarik swore. At the time, though, Kovarik was described in press reports as an integral party in the negotiations, and he told the Associated Press of meetings he had held with hotel negotiators. Kovarik did not return two phone messages and an e-mail message last week.

· Oberweis has been trying to tie Topinka to Bill Cellini for weeks. Kovarik's statement seemed to put everything together, but his story has been completely challenged.

Kovarik claims that Cellini introduced Topinka at Republican Day events at the Illinois State Fair. Cellini "religiously introduced Judy Baar Topinka," Kovarik claimed. "I mean, it was always, you know, my good friend, senator from the 22nd District, and the next treasurer of the State of Illinois." Kovarik claimed that Topinka would then come up to the dais, "and of course they would exchange a hug, and - and in her usual manner she would give him a kiss on the cheek or wherever he wanted to be kissed."

Trouble is, Cellini apparently never did any such thing. Anyone who knows Cellini knows that he's a back-of-the-room type of guy, if he shows up at all. Cellini flatly denied ever introducing Topinka at such an event, and Irv Smith, the former Sangamon County Republican Party chair, said he couldn't ever recall anything like that happening. Other local Republicans backed them up.

Kovarik also identifies Cellini in his statement as the chair of the Sangamon County GOP who "owns and operates an asphalt paving company." Both statements are false.

· Kovarik specifically names three people in Topinka's former legislative office who, he claimed, were ordered to do campaign work. Except that one of those people was a political staffer paid with campaign funds. Oops. The others deny they were ordered to do campaign work on state time or that they did anything else improper and have threatened to sue Kovarik unless the statement is retracted.

If Oberweis had questioned the ethics of Topinka hiring an alleged boyfriend to be her deputy treasurer, he might have been branded a cad but he would have made a good point. Her move, if true, showed a lack of professionalism, to say the least. Instead, Oberweis dragged out a smear that is almost laughable on its face.

But my favorite part of this whole thing is the little nugget in Oberweis' press release last week, entitled: "Jim Oberweis vindicated for 'Take a Closer Look at Judy Baar Topinka' ads."

Oberweis is quoted in the release as saying: "Only Ms. Topinka's current confidant Nancy Kimme can be said to have a relationship nearly as close as that between Mr. Kovarik and Ms. Topinka."

Class. Real class.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter. He can be reached at (

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