By Ken Davidson- “If I had to guess, John Buncich will accept a plea deal from the Federal Government sometime this summer, admit his guilt, agree to pay the citizens of Lake County thousands in Restitution. He will then be marched off to prison, with other similarly situated felons, spending most of the remainder of his life counting the days away.” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott,, Jr.
March 2, 2016-Indicted Lake County Sheriff and Democratic Party Chair John Buncich took to e-mail this morning to attack former Party Chair Thomas McDermott, Jr. In a letter which was sent to over 1,000 precinct officials county wide, Buncich “As you know, in 2015 I successfully sought the vacated seat of the Lake County Democratic Central Committee Chairmanship. I recognized at that time that our Party was suffering from infighting and special interests of certain individuals that was leading to a deterioration of our organization” Buncich wrote in the letter. “When I assumed the office of Chairman WE HAD OVER 200 VACANT PRECINCT/VICE COMMITTEE PERSON POSITIONS…WE WERE SENDING ONLY A HANDFUL OF DELEGATES FROM NWI TO THE DEMOCRATIC STATE PARTY CONVENTIONS… WE HAD NO ACTIVE YOUNG DEMOCRAT ORGANIZATION!. These were clear indications of mismanagement, self- interest and lack of leadership of basic Party functions. All while we faced critical upcoming Republican State and National election challenges at a time when our Party had a significant chance of success with our Democratic slate of Candidates” Buncich continued (emphasis in original).
McDermott took to social media to fire back. On Facebook, McDermott stated:
Obviously, Sheriff Buncich thought I was a poor Lake County Chairman, he makes it clear with this message which he mailed out to over 1,000 Democratic precinct committeemen countywide. In this letter, Buncich says that I “omitted” my duties as Chairman, that I “mismanaged the organization”, that I was a poor fundraiser and was constantly distracted only by my own “self interest.” I disagree strongly with Buncich’s evaluation of my term as Chairman.
I try to keep in mind that this attack against my Chairmanship is only one man’s opinion, that there are hundreds of other people out there that think I was a fine Chairman. I try to keep in mind that this attack comes from a Sheriff that was recently INDICTED by the US Attorney’s Office. Sheriff Buncich has been accused, by the US Attorney and the FBI, of taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from towing companies. This Chairman and Sheriff is set to go on trial in April of 2017, and is facing decades in prison if convicted.
Why the Chairman feels the need to attack me personally with this missive is beyond me. One thing I can tell you, I didn’t embarrass the organization STATEWIDE and NATIONWIDE while holding this position. I may not have been the best Chairman of all time, but I never embarrassed and damaged the organization the way Buncich has during his short tenure.
The damage Buncich’s GREED has done to the Lake County Democratic Precinct Organization will take years, if not decades, to restore. People will always remember the “crooked” Lake County Sheriff that stole money and was indicted while wearing the proud uniform of the Lake County Sheriffs Department. We had credibility issues with the downstate Republicans already, this latest episode only reinforces what many already suspected about our local elected officials. For that, I say “thanks John Buncich!”
Being an attorney, believing in the concept of a person’s innocence until proven guilty, I’ve kept quiet on this matter. But why would a person in John’s position send such an letter, filled with lies, out to over 1,000 people in the Precinct Organization countywide? You would think a person in his position would just shut the hell up. After all, who cares what he thinks anyway, he has his own legal issues to deal with that are WAY more important than who the next Chairman will be?
If I had to guess, John Buncich will accept a plea deal from the Federal Government sometime this summer, admit his guilt, agree to pay the citizens of Lake County thousands in Restitution. He will then be marched off to prison, with other similarly situated felons, spending most of the remainder of his life counting the days away. In the meantime, the Lake County Democrats, under new leadership, will again start the process of rebuilding the credibility we lost under Buncich’s short reign as Lake County Chairman. Then again, what do I know? This is only one man’s opinion.
Buncich is backing Attorney Jim Wieser in his bid for County Chair. Wieser is attorney to the corrupt Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration as well as the Lake County Auditor. Wieser will face off against Commissioner Mike Repay on March 4. The Party Chair is selected by all Democrat precinct committee chairs and vice committee chairs in the County. Rogelio “Roy” Dominguez, who serves as a part-time Comissionner in Judge Marissa McDermott’s Lake Circuit Court and who oversaw the illegal sales of machine guns while serving as Lake County Sheriff, is working on Wieser’s campaign for Party Chair. Repay meanwhile has admitted that convicted political operative and “dirty trickster” Robert “Bob” Cantrell is working* on his behalf. The Gazette reported exclusively last year how Cantrell inserted a sham hispanic candidate in the Lake County Commissioner race to pull votes from Christine Cid. Cantrell connected crony Chevis Sneed then received hundreds of thousands of dollars in no bid contracts from Lake County.
Clearly, no matter which candidate wins, the voters of Lake County will be the losers in this race.
* This story has been updated due to reader input. Thank you.