ILLINOIS (WMBD) — As we inch closer to the June primaries, Illinois residents are starting to see more and more political campaign ads, especially in the race for governor.

Whether it be on social media or TV, advertisements for or against most candidates on the ballot have popped up.

One ad was released by the Democratic Governor’s Association, based in Washington, D.C. It said, “Irvin’s been getting rich putting violent criminals back on our streets.”

The DGA tells WMBD’s Matt Sheehan their ad is referring to a criminal case back in July 2010.

Richard Irvin was a defense attorney and represented Luis Hernandez of Geneva. Hernandez was facing criminal sex abuse charges involving a child, and up to 60 years in prison. Hernandez pleaded not guilty in this case.

Irvin tried to withdraw from the case, but judge Timothy Sheldon denied his request, after figuring out Irvin had already received $4,000 from Luis and his family. This is all according to the court documents.

The Irvin campaign told Sheehan Irvin did not want to withdraw from the case because of the money. The campaign said the defendant was calling the victim, who was a family member, from the jail urging them to flee the country. That is all in hopes the victim would not be able to testify against him.

The victim ended up fleeing the country, according to Irvin’s campaign.

With no victim to testify, the original charges had to be dropped. Hernandez was ultimately charged with obstruction of justice and sentenced to 237 days in jail, which he had already served awaiting trial, the campaign added.

Found in a web archive, Irvin’s law office stated the following on their website.

“There are several circumstances in which a domestic battery charge can be successfully defended, including:

  • If the victim is the only other person present when the battery occurs, and the victim does not appear in court, the state cannot prevail in the case.
  • Most individuals will claim that the battery occurred in self-defense.”

The Democratic Governor’s Association is heavily funded by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois). Pritzker has given the DGA more than $3 million over the past five years.

The Irvin campaign calls the DGA’s claims a “false ad,” saying Pritzker is trying to hijack the Republican primary.

“My opponents all want to talk about my representation of the constitution. What they don’t want to talk about, is my time as a prosecutor. Taking violent criminals off the streets,” Irvin said. “Gang bangers, drug dealers, wife beaters. Shutting down crack houses.”

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Springfield) said Democrats want to smear Irvin because they do not want to face him come November.

“It’s disingenuous. But it’s also desperate that J.B. Pritzker does not want to see Richard Irvin to be the nominee for republicans. For him to come out this early, and get involved in the Republican Primary, is unprecedented,” Durkin said.

This would not be the first time Pritzker and his allies have gotten involved in a GOP primary.

Back in 2018, the DGA released two campaign ads just days before the primaries.

One ad attacked former Gov. Bruce Rauner. The other called Rauner’s opponent, Jeannie Ives, “too conservative for Illinois.”

“Obviously, they’d rather have Jeannie Ives be the general election opponent, and I don’t blame them. It would’ve been an easy race,” Durkin said.

Rauner defeated Ives and went on to face Pritzker that November, only to lose.

“But Bruce Rauner, at the end of the day, did not have the heart to run in those last few months,” Durkin said.

Irvin is not just on the receiving end of the political banter. He has released his own ads attacking GOP opponents Darren Bailey and Jesse Sullivan, saying they “supported Obama.”

Sheehan has a full report on these ads which will air Wednesday night, May 18, on WMBD News at 10.