WINFIELD | Lake County Republican officials say one of their candidates hurt the party by friending a Democratic candidate's Facebook page.
Dan Dernulc, county GOP chairman, said Wednesday, "Paulette Skinner ... has been censured, but she will not be removed as a precinct committee person, a position she ran for and won."
The finding of a three-member GOP committee made public Wednesday recommends Skinner remove from her Facebook page all references to Democratic candidates, party or public officials and write a letter of apology to her fellow GOP committeemen.
The committee also recommended, "Ms. Skinner is hereby directed to receive education in the use of (Facebook). This need not be formal. A grandchild, high school student, etc., could assist her."
This comes less than four weeks before voters choose between Skinner and her accuser, incumbent Winfield Township Trustee Roland "Rollie" Brauer Jr. The two are vying for control over township government affairs in the suburban and agricultural township east of Crown Point.
Skinner said Brauer is retaliating for unwanted attention Brauer has received for driving the township-owned Chevrolet Suburban SUV to his private business in Crown Point. Brauer told The Times it is an authorized take-home car, and he doesn't use it for private business.
Brauer demanded Skinner be drummed out of the Republican precinct organization when he brought his complaint of Skinner's social media activities to Dernulc's attention.
Skinner said Wednesday, "This is much ado about nothing." She considers the order to take Facebook training from a grandchild as an insult.
Brauer couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.
The row began late last month after Karen Smiley, a candidate for Winfield Township advisory board, invited several Democratic and Republican Facebook friends, including Skinner, to respond to her campaign's Facebook page, urging people to vote in the primary election.
Facebook provided Skinner with three optional responses, "Going," "Maybe" and "Invited." Skinner, who knows Smiley through town government, chose "going."
Brauer, who told the committee he doesn't have a Facebook account, learned about the Skinner-Smiley exchange from other GOP committeemen who do. Brauer told the committee Skinner was endorsing the Democratic candidate and believes Skinner is sharing party strategies with Democrats.
Skinner said she only intended to mean she would be voting in the election.
The committee accepted Skinner's assurance she didn't intend malice against her party or to endorse Smiley, one of three Democrats who want to unseat all Republicans on the township board, including Brauer's wife, Margaret "Marge" Brauer.
The committee said Skinner appears to be an inexperienced Facebook user, but nevertheless disapproved of her actions as an unintentional endorsement of Smiley.
Daniel J. Buksa, chairman of the investigation committee, said members concluded Skinner's ignorance of party rules or Facebook etiquette was no excuse. He said the county and state Republicans parties should draft social media rules for party and elected GOP officials.