Politics & Government

Black candidates for Obama's Senate seat charge racism

An Illinois civil rights leader has asked the U.S. attorney's office to investigate whether challenges to the nominating petitions of four candidates for U.S. Senate from Illinois, all of whom are black, represents discrimination.

The Rev. Johnny Scott, head of the East St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, said he sent a formal request Thursday to U.S. Attorney Courtney Cox in Fairview Heights to investigate an allegation raised by Carl Officer, one of the four black Senate candidates.

The attorney for two Chicago residents who filed the objections, William C. Dorf, called the allegation "despicable. ... I didn't even know the race of some of these candidates."

Dorf, of Chicago, is the general counsel for the campaign of Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulius. Dorf once represented the Illinois Democratc Party and former U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Giannoulius is in a highly contested race with his main Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk.

"This is a clear pattern of civil rights violation and discrimination," said Officer, "They didn't bother any of the white candidates."

However, all 11 candidates from non-established parties, including white candidates, have objections filed against their petitions by other objectors, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Officer said his claims of discrimination stem from the focus of the attorney and objectors of the Giannoulius campaign to object only to black candidates.

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