State Sen. Suzi Schmidt Won’t Step Down, Will Run Again
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UPDATED 10/06/11 9:33 a.m.
LAKE VILLA, Ill. (CBS) – State Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa) acknowledged on Wednesday that it was “inappropriate” for her to request special treatment when she called 911 last Christmas during a marital dispute, but said she is not stepping down as some had expected.
Schmidt has been under fire recently, after Lake County Sheriff’s police released 911 tapes from repeated domestic disturbances at Schmidt’s home.
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In one of those calls last Christmas, Schmidt identified herself as the former Lake County Board Chairman and told the operator to ignore any calls from her husband.
In a prepared statement on Wednesday, Schmidt said she has no plans to step down from her seat amid the controversy and plans to run for re-election next year.
“I believe I can and will continue to serve the citizens of Lake County with the same dedication and energy I’ve had for the past 25 years, and the issues in my personal life will not prohibit me from doing the job they elected me to do,” Schmidt said. “I am continuing to circulate petitions to run for re-election in 2012, and I hope I continue to earn the support of the citizens of the 31st District.”
In that Christmas call to 911, Schmidt told the operator, “I was the Lake County Board Chairman for ten years” and later said the operator should ignore any calls from her husband.
“Listen, I’m having a little problem with my husband right now,” Senator Schmidt says in the call.
“Like a domestic type problem?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes, but it’s fine,” Schmidt adds. “So, if he calls you, Bob Schmidt, you can ignore him.”
The senator later explained to the operator that she had locked her husband out of the house because she’d caught him with another woman, so he might be calling police for help.
“He might (call), except he’s kind of afraid of me because he knows I have connections,” she told the operator.
In her statement on Wednesday, Schmidt apologized for what she admitted was “inappropriate” behavior.
“In the emotion of the dispute, I placed a call to the Sheriff’s office on Christmas morning that was inappropriate. My embarrassment and extreme disappointment with our situation in no way justified or excused my behavior, which was wrong,” she said. “As one might expect, I was concerned that the humiliating details of our marital dispute would be disclosed in the public arena, and this fear clouded my judgment. Again I offer my sincere apologies to the citizens of Lake County for this lapse in judgment, and I hope my constituents can forgive me.”
Schmidt also said she has begun counseling “to help in resolving the issues in my personal life.”
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Schmidt “has clearly accepted responsibility for her inappropriate behavior in dealing with a very difficult personal situation.”
“She has acknowledged that her actions were wrong and has asked for the forgiveness of her constituents,” Radogno added. “She assures me she is taking the appropriate measures to continue to address these issues while maintaining her focus on the needs of the district.”
Radogno previously said Schmidt had abused the public trust.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said he’s “very disappointed” with Schmidt’s behavior, saying “the 911 calls were inappropriate [and] we expect a higher standard of behavior” from party members.
Brady is considering running an opponent against Schmidt in the 2012 GOP primary.
In all, Lake County Sheriff’s police have released recordings of 911 calls from four domestic disputes between Schmidt and her husband.
Officers say they’ve been called the home twice in the last two months. One call came Aug. 16, when Robert Schmidt complained his wife hit his car with hers near Cedar Lake and Fairfield in their Lake Villa subdivision.
No one has been charged in any of the incidents.
CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.