Candidate caught in flap over use of Obama in election signs

Karen McDonald

Though an official with presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign says it didn’t approve of joint election signs with 92nd District candidate Jehan Gordon, there’s nothing illegal about them.

The political signs featuring the two Democratic camps with Obama’s “Yes we can!” logo recently began popping up around the city. They’re the work of a group Citizens for a Better Peoria that wanted to give a boost to Gordon’s campaign, said member Jackie Petty.

“Quite frankly, we feel that she really needed it. Quite frankly, I feel like she’s gotten poor press,” Petty said.

Justin DeJong, Illinois director of communications for Obama for America said, “We were not aware of, nor did we authorize use of the Obama logo on the signs.”

Gordon and her campaign also were unaware of the movement.

“We didn’t authorize the use of the name, we didn’t design the signs and we didn’t put the signs up, so as far as we’re concerned, they’re not our problem,” said Gordon’s campaign manager Bob Denneen.

Under state election law, committees must register with the Illinois State Board of Elections once they have received or spent $3,000. Citizens for a Better Peoria isn’t registered, Petty said, because they did not cross that threshold with the 25 signs they had printed.

Republican congressional candidate Aaron Schock and Gordon’s opponent, 92nd House Republican candidate Joan Krupa, also share campaign signs. Both Schock and Krupa authorized them and paid their half of the costs, said Steve Shearer, Krupa’s co-campaign manager.

“The Obama/Gordon signs, which mysteriously appeared and for which neither the Jehan Gordon’s campaign, the Obama campaign or the Peoria County Democrats claim to have produced or distributed is yet another episode in the pattern of deception by Jehan Gordon’s campaign.  It is abundantly clear that the Obama campaign did not authorize these signs,” Shearer said.

Election authorities say no permission is needed from any candidate to use their name.

“I thought it was a nice gesture. They were completely surprised. It’s just an African- American group of people that wanted to do that, and that’s the end of it,” Petty said.

Karen McDonald can be reached at