On February 25, 2019, Rocky Caylor, candidate for mayor of Naperville, wrote an Open Letter to The Community, denouncing the hiring of an opposition research company "…in an attempt to damage my reputation by impugning my service to this country, the operation of my company and attacking me personally.” Rocky Caylor is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
On February 26, 2019 Mayor Chirico wrote a message on his campaign Facebook page
including: “…it is common for candidates in large cities …to perform professionally vetted opposition research on their opponent and many do opposition research on themselves to discover what is being said about them as well. I did both. “
The mayor also wrote: “While I agree that negativity and partisan politics should not play a role in this election, I also believe in unbiased research and information gathering, which is why these reports were commissioned.” And: “It has come to my attention that my opponent's military background has been called into question as a result of this research. “
A story regarding this issue published February 27, 2019 in the Daily Herald notes “Chirico said he has never questioned Caylor's service as a Marine," and that Chirico said the Stonebriar report contains a statement saying Caylor served in the military, but "nothing derogatory or questioning."
So on February 26th, Mayor Chirico wrote that Rocky Caylor’s “military background has been called into question as a result of this research,” yet an article published in the daily Herald on February 27th states that the mayor never questioned Rocky Caylor’s service as a Marine, and the report he received contains “nothing derogatory or questioning” regarding that service.
How does the same person make those two statements one day apart from each other? One day "my opponent's military background has been called into question" and the next day "nothing derogatory or questioning" about his military service.
In his opening comments at the March 4th Mayoral Forum, Rocky Caylor noted the methods used in the “unbiased research and information gathering” of the firm hired by Mayor Chirico.
Both candidates were later asked their views on releasing personal information about a candidate.
Notice, Mayor Chirico didn’t answer the question, but talked about “candidate research”.
Redacted military-related documents containing Rocky Caylor's personal information, including social security number, were sent over the internet via email without Caylor's knowledge or consent, in an attempt to generate a misleading narrative about that service. According to Mayor Chirico, that's just “candidate research (which) is very, very normal in virtually every aspect of life, whether it be sports or business or a political race.”
Just very innocent, standard “candidate research", according to Mayor Chirico, comparable to a “…football coach…reviewing the films of his next game.” And his supporters on social media are now comparing that conduct to a background check. A background check, including criminal and financial information, is standard. The conduct of the firm Mayor Chirico hired is not.
Put aside the issue of trying to call into question the honorable service of a United States Marine, for political purposes, for the moment. (Also put aside Mayor Chirico writing that service was called into question, and the next day saying to the Herald it was not.) The activities of the firm he hired are, per Mayor Chirico “…very, very normal…” In today's age of identity theft, how would you feel about someone, without your knowledge or consent, sending around your social security number? If you are in business, does your firm do that? Would you consider that “…very, very normal…?”
So who is the firm hired for the "very, very normal" and “unbiased research and information gathering?” Stonebriar Research, LLC, in Dallas TX, which describes itself as “a boutique consultancy providing opposition research for political campaigns seeking a winning narrative.”
The description of its opposition research services includes: “We uncover facts and develop narratives” and “We don't just deliver reports and walk away, we work with your team to ensure information is leveraged and communicated properly.”
Probably not what most people would call a standard background check, or how they would define “unbiased research and information gathering.”
John Lappe, the founder of Stonebriar Research, in a YouTube podcast entitled “Opposition Research & Running for President with John Lappe” discusses exactly how focused he is on that “unbiased research and information gathering” for which Mayor Chirico hired him.
A portion of the interview can be heard here.
Mr. Lappe states that a private investigator or attorney has a higher standard than he does of what constitutes proof, which isn't relevant in the court of public opinion, when you're "trying to disconnect a candidate from the voting public."
Mr. Lappe also states that “…facts are important, but they can be massaged.”
What was that again, Mayor Chirico, about "very, very normal, in virtually every aspect of life" and “unbiased research and information gathering?”