Candidates in Illinois are jockeying for the position to replace now-resigned Congressman Aaron Schock in the Illinois 18th Congressional District. But one candidate, whose family is firmly entrenched in the Illinois GOP establishment, has a history of incompetence and, at least once, revealed anti-gun sentiments.
Illinois State Senator Darin LaHood was one of the first to announce his intention to seek Aaron Schock’s 18th District seat as soon as Schock resigned due to months of accusations of corruption.
LaHood, senator for the 37th District, is the son of former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. But before becoming a state senator, LaHood was a prosecutor in the Tazewell County, Illinois, State’s Attorney’s Office and also served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas.
LaHood has earned a reputation for fiscal conservatism since first being appointed to the state senate in 2011 to fill out the unexpired term of retiring Senator Dale Risinger. He won his own term in 2012.
But LaHood also earned a reputation for slipshod work in the office of the United States Attorney in Las Vegas. He was cited several times by various officials as having bungled cases by misstatements at trial.
In a piece by USA Today in 2009, it was noted that the prosecution of a felon in possession of a firearm was botched by LaHood who “made improper arguments at trial” in 2003.
The paper continued saying, “LaHood told jurors they should believe the police officers who testified against Weatherspoon and should convict him because it would ‘make you comfortable knowing there’s not convicted felons carrying around semiautomatics.'”
It was the third case in two years that improper statements by LaHood required the appeals court to overturn a conviction.
At some point, the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked for LaHood’s name to be deleted from the opinion, even though he was the prosecutor in the case.
In another report of the Weatherspoon case, it was reported that LaHood made the improper argument that the jury should convict on the gun issue to “alleviate social problems.”
When invalidating LaHood’s work on the case, Circuit Judge Stephen Trott—himself a former federal prosecutor—said LaHood crossed the line by arguing that jurors convict the accused in order to protect the community from an armed convicted felon.
“Trott’s politely brutal opinion,” the Las Vegas Review reported in 2009, “said Bogden recognized LaHood’s mistakes and ascribed them to lack of supervision on the part of Bogden’s office and LaHood’s lack of training and experience. Bogden told the court LaHood’s errors were because of a management failure in his office.”
Even though LaHood had four years of experience as a state prosecutor in Illinois, “he needed better supervision in the federal system and didn’t get it,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden said.
LaHood’s discredited tactic seems to denote an anti-gun sentiment behind his arguments.
Regardless, at the time, many hoped that better supervision of LaHood’s work would help make “missteps vanish” in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.