O’FALLON — Associate Judge Laninya Cason, a Republican candidate for circuit judge, on Saturday gave a videotaped statement to the O’Fallon Police Department alleging that congressional candidate William Enyart, a Democrat, pushed her aside as she tried to hand out one of her campaign flyers at a parade.
Enyart’s campaign denied the allegation, saying he accidentally bumped into Cason.
Cason, a former Democrat who was passed over by her former party for its nomination as the circuit judge candidate, said she would sign a statement asking that Enyart, a retired two-star general in the Illinois National Guard, be charged with battery, a misdemeanor. The alleged incident occurred during the O’Fallon High School homecoming parade.
O’Fallon Police Sgt. Jim Cavins said Saturday that his department is investigating Cason’s allegations of battery. He said officers would be sent to talk to witnesses and, when the investigation is complete, it will be presented to the office of State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly for review, who was not immediately available for comment. Police declined a reporter’s request to view the videotape of Cason’s statement.
The Enyart campaign, when asked for comment, said he accidentally bumped into Cason and immediately apologized to her.
“On a crowded parade route, people bump into each other all the time. It’s a low-key, fun event for voters to meet candidates at all levels,” said Enyart campaign manager Jason Bresler.
“Bill accidentally bumped into a Plummer supporter and immediately apologized, but somehow, between laughing, joking and now, this has become political,” Bresler said. “This is the type of ugly politics that people in southern Illinois are sick of, where something as simple as a parade could become grounds for political gamesmanship.”
Annie Dauber, a 16-year-old Belleville West High School junior, who said she was passing out political stickers at the parade, said she saw the incident but thought Enyart and Cason “just bumped into each other.” Dauber, whose name and telephone number were supplied to the BND by the Enyart campaign, said she couldn’t recall whether both were walking, or whether Enyart came up behind Cason.