ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Members of Eli Nicolosi’s campaign are accused of forging signatures of nursing home residents on his petition to run against Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) to represent the 35th district.

According to a criminal complaint filed on April 21st, five residents of the Cedarhurst Senior Living Center, 7130 Crimson Ridge Drive, are victims of aggravated identity theft against a person 60 years of age or older for signatures that appear on Nicolosi’s petition.

Both Syverson and Nicolosi collected signatures from nursing home residents. While some of the names are the same on both men’s petition forms — itself an anomaly, since voters are asked to choose one candidate over the other — the signatures do not appear to match.

“We work very very hard to make sure our election process is clear and as clean and as above reproach [as possible], and so, when you find cases where forgery is occurring, especially against seniors, that is really disappointing,” Syverson said Tuesday. “It’s wrong under Illinois law. It is illegal. It is a felony.”

An investigation is currently underway by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Nicolosi responded, saying the accusation against him is just a distraction during the election cycle. “If there are bad signatures, pull those signatures out. As long as you have enough signatures, you’re on the ballot. This doesn’t make any sense at all.”

On Thursday, Nicolosi released images from petition forms of State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-69th) which contains 2 of the signatures in question, claiming the signatures on his forms match those on Sosnowski’s — but not those on Syverson’s.

“After recently learning of these allegations, I had my office contact the board of elections, after learning I was not the target of the investigations, it was brought to our attention that this matter had previously been brought before them and was rejected by them,” Nicolosi said in a statement.

“By manipulating the State’s Attorney’s office in this manner is a blatant attempt to manipulate the
democratic process,” Nicolosi continued. “The people of this district deserve better than that.”

Nicolosi has been a subject of some controversy, as several members of the Winnebago County Republican Party called for him to resign as chairman in May after his wife filed an order of protection against him. She later dismissed the order and has since appeared publicly in support of her husband.

The Winnebago County Sheriff, Winnebago Board County Chairman, and Loves Park Mayor signed a letter calling for Nicolosi’s resignation. 

“I am definitely not stepping down, I’m definitely not dropping out and I’m definitely not going to step down from political bullies,” Nicolosi said at the time.

But then, according to Nicolosi, on June 2nd, the three leaders met with him and offered their support for his “continued service to the Winnebago County Republican Party,” at which he suggested appointing a vice-chair to oversee day-to-day operations, in order to prevent his leadership role from being a campaign issue.

Illinois’ Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, June 28th.

CORRECTION: A prior version of the story said the discrepancy was uncovered by the Illinois State Board of Election.