Prior to dropping out of the village presidential race, sitting village trustee Simone Boutet filed a police report over a text message sent to her by village trustee candidate Anthony Clark. The text message implied that Boutet was involved in the electoral challenge made against Clark’s candidacy.
According to the police report, obtained by Wednesday Journal through the Freedom of Information Act, Boutet wished to have the Oak Park Police Department document the text message, which read:
“I know you are behind this & funding [redacted]. So go as far as you would like to go & I will be sure to do so as well. All the truths will be exposed. Good luck with your race.”
Boutet received the text message Jan. 4, four days before she filed the report. The police report states that the responding officer arrived at Boutet’s home at 5:32 p.m., Jan. 8, where Boutet sent the responding officer an image of the text message for documentation. Boutet, who withdrew her candidacy Jan. 17, did not request that the officer contact Clark regarding the incident, according to the police report.
She declined to comment to Wednesday Journal on the text message or police report, however Clark confirmed he had sent the message to Boutet, whom he said he considered a colleague.
“I’m disappointed and disheartened to hear that the police were contacted based upon a private message that I sent a colleague,” said Clark.
Clark told Wednesday Journal he believed he and Boutet had a cordial working relationship and that they previously met on multiple occasions to discuss issues facing the community.
He revealed that the redacted name in the police report belonged to Kevin Peppard, the man who filed a challenge to Clark’s trustee candidacy. The challenge was ultimately dismissed by the local electoral board.
Clark said a village trustee, whose name he would not share, had told him that Boutet, a municipal attorney by training, was helping Peppard in his campaign challenge against Clark and that he sent the message to inform Boutet.
“How is that a threat?” Clark said. “I’m a Black man. [She] literally called the police on a Black man.”
Boutet never responded to the message, according to Clark.
Clark took issue with Boutet for preaching racial equity but calling the police over a text message. He also said Boutet did not reach out to him after a brick carrying a racial slur was found outside his shared campaign headquarters.
Beyond the account from the unnamed trustee, Clark said some members of the community have long conjectured that Peppard, who has challenged several candidates over multiple election cycles, was receiving assistance in carrying out his cases.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Clark said.
Peppard also filed a challenge this year against trustee candidate Chibuike Enyia, which was dismissed as well. As both Clark and Enyia are Black men, many have speculated that the challenges were racially motivated, which Peppard has categorically denied. Peppard has, in past years, challenged the petitions of both Black and white candidates.
While he has no concrete evidence linking Boutet to Peppard, Clark said he has screenshots of public posts made by Peppard that indicate the two are in sync – one of which was a comment Peppard posted on the Wednesday Journal website.
“If Simone Boutet filed paperwork for her new party listing its officers, which I recommended,” Peppard’s comment began.
Peppard posted the comment Jan. 17, in response to the article announcing Boutet had withdrawn from the village presidential race and refers to Boutet’s slate of trustee candidates. Wednesday Journal has since moved to a new website model that does not support reader comments.
Peppard did not respond to requests for comment.
Clark also said that his election lawyer, Ed Mullen, believed that Peppard’s closing arguments made during Clark’s challenge hearing were not written by Peppard.
He maintained that the text message sent to Boutet was nothing more than him letting her know that he believed she was working with Peppard.
“It was not a threat; I essentially informed her what I was told by a colleague of hers,” said Clark.
If the situation had been reversed and Boutet had sent the message to him, Clark said he would have handled it differently.
“One thing I definitely wouldn’t do is contact an agency that systemically throughout history has been shown to have adversarial relationships with my demographic.”